The great American movie icon, Samuel L Jackson, will be honoured by the Dubai International Film Festival, opening on December 7. He will be presented with the festival’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
An equally iconic actor from India, Rekha -- who has enthralled millions with her riveting roles in Utsav, Umrao Jaan, Silsila and Khubsoorat --will also be honoured, as reported earlier in these columns, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jackson will receive the accolade during the festival’s opening ceremony on December 7.
Two days later on December 9, fans will have an unique opportunity to hear Jackson speak about his eventful life and illustrious career. The session, In Conversation, will also include a question-answer segment with the audience.
Jackson got into movies in 1972 with Together for Days -- a romance between an African-American and a Caucasian, and the turmoil this causes in the two families. This film reminded one of a Sidney Poitier starrer, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, in 1967 that also dealt with an inter-racial relationship.
After playing a motley group of characters, Jackson emerged with his breakout performance in Spike Lee’s drama, Jungle Fever (1991). As drug addict Gator, he walked away with a Special Jury Prize for a supporting role at the Cannes Film Festival.
It was, however, Quentin Tarantino’s blood-and-gore Pulp Fiction in 1994 -- which incidentally was Jackson’s 13th movie -- that firmly established the actor as one of Hollywood’s greats. The number 13 proved lucky for him, and he clinched the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for his supporting part as Jules Winnfield. He was also nominated for the Golden Globe and Academy Award.
Ironically, he almost lost the chance to play in Pulp Fiction when he was overshadowed by Paul Calderon, but Tarantino accepted a suggestion from his producer to put Jackson through a second audition, and he won by acting out the dinner scene with a touch of brilliance. Pulp Fiction got the Palm d’Or at Cannes.
In a four-decade career, he made a mark as the highest grossing actor in the history of cinema, and he has had the magnificent opportunity to work in over 100 movies with celebrity directors like George Lucas, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Kevin Spacey, Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis and Robert Downey Jr.
Jackson’s upcoming films in 2017 include Kong: Skull Island and The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
Jackson -- who will be in Dubai for the first ever time -- will join the ranks of such famous men and women as Omar Sharif, Catherine Deneuve, Faten Hamamah, Adel Imam, Jameel Rateb, Sabah, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, Shah Rukh Khan, Daoud Abdel Sayed, Youssef Chahine, Rachid Bouchareb, Martin Sheen, Nabil El-Maleh, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Terry Gilliam, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz and Sami Bouajila.
Let us conclude with a couple of highlights from Jackson’s life that were published in The Guardian last June. The Legend of Tarzan actor, Jackson, told Tarantino after reading his script, Django Unchained: “So you really want me to play the most hateful black character in cinematic history, huh? OK, let’s do it!”
Earlier on, “he had started boozing, smoking weed and doing LSD at college in the late 60s, and has said that until he got clean in 1991 - after a crack-induced meltdown that involved his eight-year-old daughter finding him zonked out in the kitchen among his dimebags and paraphernalia - he had never set foot on stage without some kind of substance in his body”.
But then Jackson had this amazing ability to shake himself out of this mess and give us some outstanding movies
(Gautaman Bhaskaran will cover the Dubai International Film Festival.)