SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Savannah College of Art and Design honored veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson on its opening day of the virtual 2020 SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
Jackson, who participated in the first session of the festival’s “In Conversation” series on Saturday, was given the Legend of Cinema Award.
“This is kind of amazing and serendipitous in an interesting sort of way,” Jackson told the online audience after receiving his honor. He says he began his cinematic career in the Peach State and adds that he’s honored to receive SCAD’s award.
“I owe a lot of my success to Georgia, I feel like a native son,” said Jackson, who has starred in over 100 films in his decades-long career, including “Django Unchained,” “Shaft” and “Pulp Fiction.”
His 2006 film, “Black Snake Moan,” was also shown at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival on Saturday.
Jackson says while he’s flattered for the Legend of Cinema Award recognition, the humble actor doesn’t exactly consider himself a legend.
“Legends are people who accomplish things that can’t be accomplished by other people or did something that’s super extraordinary,” the 71-year-old shared during the In Conversation virtual talk. “I just kind of persevered through hard work and doggedness to get where I am.”
Entertainment Weekly’s executive editor, Sarah Rodman, chatted with Jackson about his accomplishments and career, including whether or not he ever stops to watch any of his own movies while channel surfing.
“I’ve stopped on ‘Pulp Fiction,’ for sure, I stop on ‘Jackie Brown’ because I love that movie,” Jackson said, adding, “I stop on ‘Deep Blue Sea’ if I haven’t been killed yet!”
He also spoke about the important role that theater can play in a person’s acting journey.
“When young actors ask for my advice to help them succeed in this business, I always say, ‘you need to go New York,’” Jackson said, adding, “That may have changed forever, considering climate we’re in now and what’s going on with the pandemic, I don’t know if theater is ever gonna come back the way it was, but there’s just something about being able to go onstage and do something in front of live people that allows you to find out, ‘can I do this or not?’”
The actor added that Atlanta and several other cities he’s visited have thriving theater communities.
“There’s a vibrant theater community almost everywhere in the United States that you can go; I’ve worked in, you know, Louisville, Seattle,” Jackson said.
The actor says the neo-noir crime black comedy “Pulp Fiction,” which Jackson co-starred in with John Travolta and Uma Thurman in 1994, still seems to be popular with younger generations even over two decades later.
“‘Pulp’ is like the gift that keeps on giving because every year, there’s a group of kids who come of age that can watch it and all of a sudden, they think it’s the hippest thing they’ve ever seen in their lives,” Jackson said. “I get six million new fans every year that can just watch that movie.”
Ahead of the upcoming presidential election, Jackson also emphasized the importance of voting.
“It has become more incumbent upon people to understand that the only power we have is our vote right now,” he said. “We need to prove that we know how to do things the right way, and to make change through policy and everything else, and we need to put the right people in there to make that happen.”
In addition to Jackson, among the 2020 SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s honorees are Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Hudson, Millie Bobby Brown and Billy Crystal.