Samuel L. Jackson Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Donald Trump is off the table, but for all else Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson was game.

The In Conversation With Samuel L Jackson on the afternoon of December 8 at the Dubai International Film Festival was as exciting as one of his Quentin Tarantino hits … gloriously messy and shockingly frank.

Gulf News tabloid! gives you the highlights of the segment as the affable actor looked back on the milestones in his life ...

On his drug addiction
“I have often actively wondered whether I would be able to act if I had no substance in me. I have often wondered if I will be a fun person to be around and I wondered if I would be brave enough to step in front of the camera without substance. But the clarity I gained after getting sober gave me strength to do what I do.”

On his role in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever
“That role came at the height of my addiction … I was using more and more cocaine and that role came when I was in rehab. So I knew I had already done research. When I shot Jungle Fever, I was two weeks out of rehab, so I didn’t need make-up for any of my scenes. What you see on screen was who I was … Lots of people had lost their husbands, brothers, sons and family members to drugs, so many related to my role. It was resonating with all those who had a crackhead in their homes … That role kept me sober in another kind of way.”

On his role in Pulp Fiction
“When I read the script, I thought: ‘no [expletive] way’. Then, I read it cover to cover again … I didn’t know if people would love it, but I loved it and I knew that my friends would love it. Although the part was written for me, I had to audition for it … I had never realised that Pulp Fiction had international appeal … At Cannes, when Pulp Fiction won, I didn’t realise that the audience were so critical. So when Quentin went on stage, somebody screamed: ‘you’re a piece of [expletive].’ Not a day goes by when somebody doesn’t stop me and say a line from that film. That’s rare and it’s a blessing.”

On his role in Django Unchained and working with Quentin Tarantino
“It’s difficult not to have fun playing a character who’s unapologetically evil … The beauty of working with Quentin is that he understand the value of rehearsals. We rehearsed for at least a month before getting to work. Quentin also has the most creative film set, there are no phones or iPads. When he says cut, people don’t check mails, they talk to each other. But there’s music, different kinds of music playing, so we dance a lot on his sets. Quentin has one of the most encyclopedic cinematic minds. He’s that guy who keeps everyone engaged. Even the sweeper mopping the floor feels invested in his filming process.”

On A Time To Kill
“How did I not win an Academy Award for that? [after watching a clip from A Time To Kill]”

On Oscars this year
“This time of the year is always interesting. Last year we had the OscarSowhite rhetoric … This year seems to be different. We have all these films like Moonlight, Birth Of A Nation … The politics that happen during this time is always interesting. There are discussions like Manchester By The Sea may be interesting to some people, but it’s not inclusive or that Moonlight is all black film … There are all these Oscar bait movies like the one with Will Smith that has that life is so wonderful, just smell the roses theme.”

On his political activism
“My politics are my politics. Some say I am a role model because I am an actor. But I feel I am a role model because I am a husband, am a father and a college graduate. I am one of those rare black people in America who has not gone into jail … I had no police encounters … I am who I am. I say things about my country that lot of other people don’t want to say. Just like what happened recently [the gun shootings in Chicago during the Thanksgiving weekend], I am not shocked by it. I understand because I lived in that part of the town. All I can do is the best person I can be.”

His thoughts on US president-elect Donald Trump
“My agent won’t let me answer that question”

On being a Muslim American in the US now
“What’s that amazing series about the Muslim kid who goes to prison [HBO series, The Night Of]? You get to see a Muslim family going through something and you feel that’s some black [expletive]. Muslim Americans are getting arrested the way the Black Americans got arrested in the past. Like somebody said, Muslim Americans are the new black people in America … But the Muslim community is a vital part of our country.”

On his down time
“When I am not acting, I watch movies, read books and play golf a lot.

On wanting to branch out
“I like Bollywood movies. I would love to act in one … If you have contact, my agent is right down there,”

Samuel L Jackson auditioned for a role in Reservoir Dogs. But he didn’t get the job. So when he met Quentin Tarantino at a film festival who asked him what he thought of the guy who got his job, Jackson said he would have done a better job.