Samuel L. Jackson: Starstruck by King Kong, Sidney Poitier and Gregory Peck

KongSamJackson1
Samuel L. Jackson and Toby Kebbel in "Kong: Skull Island."

LOS ANGELES - At the recent round table discussion for Kong: Skull Island, Samuel l. Jackson was told that many young members of the cast talked about how cool it was to meet and work with him - and asked how that makes him feel.

"Makes me feel old, I guess," Jackson joked. "You know, it is a badge of honor, of sorts. I remember, when I first got to Hollywood, there were particular people I was impressed with - like when I first met Sidney Poitier."

"We sat down and hit it off, so that was memorable,' Jackson continued. "I also remember meeting Gregory Peck and going, "'Awesome!'! In fact, I remember I had a message on my phone from him and kept it for three years and played it for people! I was like, 'It's Gregory Peck!'

"So, it's cool, but I don't know if I'm as cool as I thought those guys were, you know? There was a time you never thought you would meet people like that. Now, stars are somewhat more accessible."

Although Jackson is at the point in his career where his status allows him to be picky about roles, he instantly knew he wanted to be in "Kong: Skull Island" as soon as the script hit his desk - and without reading it.

"It was a no-brainer," said Jackson. "I was like, 'What's that?' and my agent said, 'It's a King Kong movie' and I was instantly like, 'Alright. I'm in.'

"I had no second thoughts whatsoever," said Jackson. "Even though the job was somebody else's first (J.K. Simmons was originally tapped) and that person didn't want to do it because they didn't want to be away from their family as long as were shooting this film, I was like, 'Cool! I'll do it!' Plus, I got to film in Hawaii and Vietnam."

Jackson's character Preston Packard, a United States Army lieutenant colonel, becomes obsessed with revenge after a slew of his men are slaughtered on Skull Island.

"There is that revenge factor. There is an Ahab ideal," said Jackson. "He's like, (Kong) killed all those men of mine and I want to exact some revenge - but there's also his belief in the basic tenet of, 'Man is stronger than everything on this planet. We've been here forever and there's always been things bigger and stronger and faster than us. But we have ingenuity. We've figured out to survive.'

"So, even though you are telling (Packard) that this is the only thing standing between us and those other things that are gonna kill us (his mentality is), once we kill Kong, then we'll kill those other things, too. Because that's who we are."

Having the film take place in the 1970s and having Packard be a Vietnam veteran added to his motivation.

"He's saying, 'I just lost a war. I'm not going to lose another one.' He's a survivor and a soldier," said Jackson. "His pride is wounded in a very real kind of way."

"Of course, in a pragmatic world, in the scene where he comes out of the water and he's knocked out, I would have picked up a rocket launcher and walked over and shot him through the eye, into his brain and he'd be dead," Jackson concluded. "But in the movie world, I have to go into a monologue and give him time to wake up! It's a Kong movie, man!"