How Samuel L. Jackson shed his star power for Broadway’s ‘Piano Lesson’

Jackson’s celebrity was a selling point for the August Wilson revival, but his disappearance into his character made it work.

Samuel L. Jackson. With more than 200 screen credits, the name alone shines with celebrity. That name comes attached to major movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shaft” and franchises like “Star Wars” and the Marvel universe. But walking into Jackson’s temporary apartment in Atlanta (where he just wrapped the film adaptation of August Wilson’s drama “The Piano Lesson”), I find Jackson with his feet kicked up on a coffee table, eased back on the couch, no sheen.

He’s relaxed. He’s in no rush. He’s not performing. Jackon’s voice loosens into a slightly deeper register than when he is heard on the radio or appears in a TV interview or advertises Capital One. He’s not jazzing it up. He’s even-keeled.

In fact, Jackson seems a bit like Doaker Charles — the contemplative character he played in the 2022 Broadway revival of “The Piano Lesson” (a role he will reprise on film and that recently earned him his first Tony Award nomination).

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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