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Samuel L Jackson Talks About 'Mother and Child'


Samuel L Jackson and Naomi Watts Photo Mother and Child Movie

Samuel L Jackson and Naomi Watts in 'Mother and Child.'

© Sony Pictures Classics
April 19, 2010 - Samuel L Jackson plays a powerful, widowed lawyer in writer/director Rodrigo Garcia's Mother and Child. And Jackson, who will be competing against himself on opening weekend with Mother and Child hitting theaters the same day as Iron Man 2, said it was just as exciting for him to step into the character of Paul as it was to become Nick Fury in Iron Man 2.

At the Los Angeles press day for Sony Pictures Classics' Mother and Child, Jackson explained the appeal of Garcia's film. "It’s the story. That’s the exciting thing. Being able to service it and put that character on the inside of that story and have him be part of the dynamic of what’s going on between his character and Naomi [Watts] and to move the story along in that particular way. Rodrigo did an amazing job of writing a story, especially about all these women. I say, 'How does this dude get in touch with his feminine side that well to make that happen?' I’m just thankful that he wrote a role like that for a guy."

Mother and Child follows three very different women as they try to come to terms with relationships and motherhood. Annette Bening plays a tough, introverted woman who gave up for adoption the daughter she had when she was just 14. Naomi Watts plays Elizabeth, a woman who was adopted as a baby and who never forged close bonds with her adopted family. Elizabeth is an ambitious lawyer who seduces her much-older boss (Jackson) while also carrying on an affair with her married neighbor whose wife is expecting a child. And Kerry Washington stars as Lucy, a woman seeking to adopt her first child.

In real life, Jackson's been married to actress LaTanya Richardson since 1980. In the film, Paul's a widower who doesn't mind talking about his deceased wife with Elizabeth. "When she asks questions, he answers them honestly. He didn’t give that bullsh*t like, 'Well, my wife was sick for a while so we grew apart.' He says, 'Me and my wife were close. My kids even noticed that we were tighter than we were with them. It kind of disturbed them.' Then when she asks him, even before the seduction, 'What is it you miss about her? Like I’m going to replace that for her.' He said, 'I miss the closeness. We were close, intimate.'"

"That’s the one thing she could never be, which is what happens. When he ends up in that relationship where he started out as the hunter and became the hunted, when he tried to regain power by making her the offer of, 'Look, let me help you. Let me help you do this, let me help you do that.' She went, 'Nah.' At a certain point he realizes that there’s a wall here. There’s an emotional wall that we’re never going to be equals. She’s never just going to open up to me like I’m opening up to her. Fortunately he’s old enough and smart enough and been there that he can say look at, ' You know what? It’s nice, but it ain’t that nice. I don’t need this grief.' So he walks away."

The film's central theme binding all three main female characters together is adoption, and Jackson shared his opinion on the subject. "Adoption’s one of those things that’s cool. Everybody knows somebody who was adopted or everybody threatened you with the fact that, 'You know you were adopted!' Everybody’s heard that sh-t. Your momma said it to you: 'You know you were adopted. I can send you back.' Your sister or brother tells you that sh-t. They do that to their brothers and sisters all the time."

"It’s interesting the way Rodrigo played with the whole thing, because you have a woman who’s life is kind of ruined because she gave a kid away, can’t figure out why she can’t commit. You’ve got a girl who’s life is kind of jacked because she wonders why her mother didn’t want her and her foster home situation or whatever didn’t work. That’s a group of kids that I don't know if you know, but I knew kids that lived in the orphanage that never got adopted because you get too old, nobody wants you. Those are kids who kind of had that emotional thing about, 'Why does nobody want me?' They fight a lot and get angry. Then you’ve got a girl who’s kind of having a kid who doesn’t know if she wants to keep the kid or not keep her kid. Her mom’s telling her, 'What would’ve happened to you if I’d done that to you and I was pregnant at the same time when I was a teenager. Don’t mess up the family, keep the kid, I’ll help you with the kid.' She’s like, 'You didn’t help me when you had me, so why should I trust that?' The dynamic is great."

"I guess it might appear to a lot of people, or I hear a lot of people say in Hollywood that the adopted kid is like the new Sharpay or some sh-t in Hollywood because you go out and adopt kids and show them off. 'Look, I got a black kid. Look, check me out. I’m all liberal and sh-t.' I’m taking care of the greening of the world by having this kid. I think people that want children should be able to get children, that are really about loving a kid and enhancing the kid’s life, aside from those people that get kids because they think they can get more money from the system because of it. There’s different schools on that."

"I don’t have anything against that woman that sent that kid back to Russia. If you adopt a kid and you want to make the kid’s life’s better, the kid can’t wake up one morning and tell you, 'I hate you. I’m going to burn the house down with you in it.' You know, you might be happier back in Russia. So that’s what you do, send them back to the place they might be happy."

"But I have a friend who has an adoption foundation, Victoria Rowell, Vicki. She’s adopted and she has a great foundation. She sends kids to camps and schools and helps them find homes. She does all kinds of stuff for adopted kids because she had a great adoption experience and she wants that to be a great experience for other kids who are going through it or have a support system for them."

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