If you want audiences to know immediately that a character is to be respected, can handle just about anything, will put up with no b.s. and is absolutely cool without having to explain all of the above, your best bet is to just cast Samuel L. Jackson. This isn’t to say that the Washington, D.C.-born actor can’t play tender, confused, vulnerable or pretty much anything else –Jackson has proven his extraordinary versatility many times over on film and on stage – but he’s become big-budget movie shorthand for badass authority.

No wonder then that when S.H.I.E.L.D. Initiative Director Nick Fury had to turn up at the end of IRON MAN (and again in IRON MAN 2, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and CAPTAIN AMERICA), Jackson was cast in the role. Therefore, when it came time to bring all those Marvel superheroes – plus Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye –  together in Disney’s THE AVENGERS, Jackson is back as Fury, who is trying to both wrangle all of the disparate personalities under his purview while also saving the world.

In person, Jackson can be a lot more playful than his onscreen persona. When someone asks at a press conference which other character he’d most like to play if he couldn’t play Fury, Jackson responds, “I want to be Scarlett.” Over the ensuing laughter, he adds, “I just want to be that cute for fifteen minutes.”

More seriously, Jackson explains what he admires most about his character. Jackson cites Fury’s sense of gratitude to the Avengers for saving the planet from whatever forces may threaten it. “I just like the fact that Nick Fury believes that these unique individuals deserve the love and admiration of the world and who pretty much owe everything to, because there are things out there greater than us.”

Jackson credits AVENGERS writer/director Joss Whedon with maintaining a cohesive vision for the film, starting with letting each character have his or own viewpoint. “Everybody shows up that first day and it was the second big day when we were on the bridge, we’ve got the script, we were reading it. That was an interesting scene, because I didn’t really know all that was going on in that scene, when everybody starts talking at once, until all of a sudden it happened, we were just kind of,’“Oh, we’re having an argument. Nobody’s listening to anybody. We’re just kind of batting stuff around, I’m blaming you for this, you’re blaming me …’”

The scene also includes Fury’s realization that the alien Loki (Tom Hiddleston), adopted brother of fellow alien Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is causing major problems on Earth. Jackson says Fury’s essential reaction is, “’I don’t care about you motherf**kers, I don’t come to your world and tear shit up.’ What I kept wanting to say is, ‘I don’t come to your world and blow shit up,’ but they wouldn’t let me say it.”

The shoot progressed from there, Jackson relates. “We had that moment when we all know each other and we all laugh together and once we saw each other again in that particular setting, it was like, ‘Okay, we’re actually going to do this, it’s going to be a lot of fun.’ And it’s almost like an OUR GANG movie – you know, ‘I’ve got some costumes,’ ‘I’ve got some film,’ ‘My dad’s got a studio.’ And we just decided, we’re going to have fun.”

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man was allowed some improvisational freedom with the dialogue. Jackson, on the other hand, says that Whedon wanted him to say the words as written. “I noticed while he was filming this – I’d be, ‘Why does Robert get to say all this nice cute s**t?’ But if I would change something, [Whedon] would come to me like the Line Police, and go, ‘You can’t say ‘it’s.’ You have to say ‘it is.’ ‘Really? Okay.’ So he was always on me and I was talking to the Line Police a lot, and he let those guys [play with the dialogue more], but the exciting feeling was there. Joss set up the rules and we showed up and we played by the rules of that world. Certain people had license. [Downeyis] the rich smartass guy, [Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk is] the little guy with the big words that might turn and f**k you up at any moment, and [Hemsworth as Thor is] trying to make him do it, which is like the battle of the brothers. It was a great time doing that, and being in that space, and allowing an audience to see that, ‘Okay, these guys have superpowers, but they have a normal kind of attitude. They get pissed with each other and they can argue about petty s**t and they can be smartasses and they can be heroes and they can just be jerks, but they eventually are going to find a way to love each other.’ And thank God we had somebody [Whedon] there to guide us in that direction.”

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Related Link: Interview: Mark Ruffalo Hulks Up on THE AVENGERS
Related LinkInterview: THE AVENGERS’ Chris Evans Talks Being Captain America once again
Related LinkInterview with THE AVENGERS star Chris Hemsworth
Related Link: Will the AVENGERS shoot a new scene for the movie before its release? Robert Downey Jr. says so

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Article: Interview: THE AVENGERS’ Samuel L. Jackson on the fun of a big budget action epic 

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