Samuel L. Jackson and director Matthew Vaughn teamed up for his spy film Kingsman: The Secret Service. But although Vaughn was initially excited to bring Jackson onboard his new film, that excitement later turned to concern.
This was because Jackson suggested performing his character in a particular way that Vaughn initially couldn’t get behind.
Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter while growing up
Although he’s known for his hard-hitting dialogue, Samuel L. Jackson once revealed he grew up with a slight speech impediment.
“I stuttered really, really, really bad for a long time…to the point that I stopped speaking for, like, almost a year in school,” Jackson said in an interview on The Howard Stern Show (via GQ).
However, he revealed that the word m***** f***** helped curb his stutter. Although, he wasn’t sure how exactly it helped.
“I have no idea [how] but it just does,” he said. “It clicks a switch that stops the d-d-d b-b-b.”
Samuel L. Jackson’s stutter helped inspire his performance in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’
In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Jackson plays Richmond Valentine, a supervillain with aspirations to wipe out a good chunk of humanity. When he got on board, the Pulp Fiction star had a few ideas for how he’d wanted to perform this supervillain. Jackson added a lisp to the character, and also gave him an aversion to blood. But when he showed these ideas to Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn, all it did was worry the filmmaker.
“When he first did it, I was like, ‘Oh God, that’s not good.’ Because I was a little bit paranoid, because, I was worried he took it too far,” Vaughn said in an interview with Cinemablend.
But after Jackson explained his ideas, the director eventually came around to Jackson’s vision.
“Sam explained to me that when he was younger, he had a lisp and a stutter, and it really drove him on to want to be famous, to succeed,” Vaughn recalled. “He said, ‘Look, trust me, if you were a guy, if you’re Steve Jobs and you’ve got everything — you’ve got money, you’ve got power, you’ve got everything you want — but you’ve still got this God damn stutter and lisp, and people aren’t 100% taking you seriously, it can take you to that next level of going mad.’”
This gave Vaughn more confidence in Jackson’s performance “because … he played this character as someone who had slowly lost the line between, you know, what should happen and shouldn’t happen, which I thought was a great way of doing it.”
Samuel L. Jackson used Mike Tyson to convince Matthew Vaughn about the lisp
As already noted, Jackson knew what it was like to have a speech impediment, something he factored in creating his character.
“So speech impediments are something that I understand because I stuttered when I was a kid, so people kind of dismiss you and go, ‘You can’t be interesting because you sound funny.’ So I’m sure Valentine had used that as a motivational tool in a certain kind of way because people had dismissed him,” Jackson once said according to Belfast Telegraph.
When he first brought the idea to Vaughn, Vaughn had a similar reaction to Valentine’s lisp. But the actor used boxing legend Mike Tyson to further convince Vaughn of his vision.
“It was interesting for me to present that to Matthew, because he sort of did the same thing. And I said just listen, listen! And we got to the point where I said, ‘One of the baddest people on the planet had a lisp.’ He said, ‘Who’s that?’ Mike Tyson. And he goes, ‘Oh! Right.’ And I said, ‘Can we go with that?’ And once he listened to it more and more he sort of fell in love with it too,” he explained.
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Matthew Vaughn Once Feared Samuel L. Jackson Would Go Too Far With His Performance in ‘Kingsman’