Legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson marks “the biggest name to ever be a part of a Saw movie,” which is all thanks to Chris Rock’s involvement.
Chris Rock is the reason why Samuel L. Jackson boarded Spiral: From the Book of Saw. The horror franchise started in 2004 after it made waves out of the Sundance Film Festival. With 9 films now being a part of the series, the franchise has grossed over $1 billion worldwide over the course of its lifetime. The door has been left open for the potential for further sequels and spin-offs.
Spiral is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II–IV) and written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, who previously wrote Jigsaw and Piranha 3D together. The film’s concept was pitched directly by Rock to Lionsgate. Having been a massive fan of the horror franchise, he wanted to get involved and take the series in another direction that would still live within the Saw universe.
In a special feature released on YouTube by Lionsgate Movies, major players in the film talk about how Jackson got involved in Spiral. Marisol Nichols, who plays Angie Garza, explained how Rock’s involvement intrigued her, but Jackson’s casting particularly caught her attention. Stolberg, Rock, and Goldfinger each went into detail how it occurred and what it meant for the film. See below for their statements:
Stolberg: “As a writer, when you’re writing a screenplay, you have these visions of sugarplums in your head about the kinds of actors that are going to be playing the roles. And, typically you don’t get those actors. This was one of those situations where right off the bat, we knew we had Chris Rock being the head of your film. But then, when you get a call that, ‘Oh, by the way, Sam Jackson is going to play his dad,’ immediately the first thing I thought was, ‘Well we’re writing the word motherf*cker in there somewhere, because it’s gotta be that.’”
Rock: “I remember they said, ‘What do you think about Sam?’ I’m like, ‘Whatever you have to do to get Sam. Sam Jackson, one of the greatest actors that ever lived. Whatever you have to do. Except take my money. No, you can take my money.’ The day they told me they got Sam, I was like, ‘Wow. It’s on.'”
Goldfinger: “Sam Jackson would not have come on board if it were not for Chris Rock. Let’s start right there. All the props go to Chris Rock for Sam Jackson coming on board. But, when Sam Jackson came on, it suddenly, now truly the biggest Saw movie ever, just in terms of noticeable cast. I mean, we were already there with Chris. I mean, Chris Rock would have been the biggest name to ever be a part of a Saw movie, and now you have Samuel Jackson coming in, so everything gets bigger.”
Fans of the franchise were already taken by surprise to hear that a comedian like Rock would be starring in a Saw film and being the creative mind pitching the concept. Next, to have Jackson involved is an entirely other level. While the legendary actor truly proved himself with his performances in films such as Pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight over many years, Spiral isn’t the first time that he’s taken on a surprising role. People still quote his iconic line in 2006’s Snakes on a Plane and he delivers a great Nick Fury across the Marvel movies.
The horror genre can be a tricky one. It certainly has a very dedicated fan base that remains very loyal and is the source of a lot of pop culture references. However, it’s typically not taken very seriously by various portions of Hollywood or audiences. While there are successful studio films that belong to the genre, such as The Conjuring universe, the independent horror scene is what’s truly keeping the genre fresh. Saw delivered that with the franchise’s first entry, although the most recent addition to the series had a rough time with the goal of satisfying longtime fans and relative newcomers to the series. Only time will tell how Spiral will impact the franchise moving forward.
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