Samuel L Jackson is thinking about staying young and staring 91 in new series

Jackson went without spandex or snakes for a softer role (Picture: Apple Studios)

Samuel L. Jackson is in a reflective mood.

We’re used to seeing him shine on screen with his larger-than-life personality and colorful language – but the Hollywood legend has a much softer role this time in his new Apple TV series The Last Days Of Ptolemy Gray.

There’s no spandex this time – no snakes either – instead Jackson plays 91-year-old Ptolemy Gray, who suffers from dementia and is given one last chance to get his memories back in order to put things right before he dies.

Heavy stuff, but something he has personal experience with.

“I was about to. My mother, grandfather and aunt all had dementia and I watched them worsen in certain ways,” recalled Jackson, now 73, although you’d never believe it.

“I remember how touched they were when I spoke to them and saw the looks on their faces as they tried to remember something I thought they should remember… until I learned, such questions don’t.” to deliver.


Jackson has been trying to bring the project to fruition for over a decade (Image: Apple Studios)

“It wasn’t always a sad situation. I remember my mum and aunt were at my house and walking around the garden together and they both had Alzheimer’s but were having fun together like they were two kids.

“There’s all kinds of wonderful memories and all kinds of sad memories that go into it and hopefully I’ve been able to find ways to bring those things to screen.”

It’s undeniably powerful stuff and a personal project that Jackson has been trying to bring to fruition for over a decade – after all, speaking of working in television, he said, “I’ve always been interested in working in television, they just got me.” don’t let it go!’

However, what makes it work is seeing Jackson, a man we associate almost exclusively with strong characters, looking so weak and dependent on others.

Ptolemy has lost his wife and lives alone in misery, the only person who seems to care about him is his nephew, and when he suddenly disappears, all he’s left with is Robyn (Dominique Fishback), a family friend who lives in enters his life and who is almost 70 years younger than him. It’s a show about family, and again Jackson looks back.

“When I was a kid, we didn’t have a TV for a very long time. In the evenings I listened to a lot of radio plays with my grandfather on the veranda. I listened to stuff like The Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Gangbusters and they were just voices but to me they were amazing,” Jackson smiled.

“My aunt was a school teacher and she was always putting on pageants and plays and she never had enough boys, so I ended up being there with everything she was doing. There’s something special about having a little kid who stutters but still performs, and at the end someone applauds and pinches your cheek and says, ‘You’re so cute!’ You get used to that!’

It’s odd to think of Jackson as an old man, but he kind of is, and The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray has a lot to say about how we treat our elders in modern society.


The real Jackson is still very much on the pulse (Image: Hopper Stone)

“I don’t know if young people sit down and talk to old people like they used to – I used to sit down and talk to my grandfather a lot because we spent a lot of time together,” he said.

“Part of that is that when you grow up around an old person you know different things about them and I was taught to speak respectfully to the older people in my neighborhood and they were all part of my upbringing.”

But don’t fret. Jackson has hardly gone into “old man yells at cloud” and still has his finger on the pulse.

“The information superhighway is one of those things where young people’s opinions matter as much as older people’s opinions, and there was a time when they weren’t,” he laughed.

“I remember at a certain age trying to use my voice and opinion and fight against those in charge and I think that will always be a part of that.”

But the whole point of the show is this miracle drug, which gives Ptolemy his memory and strength back – but comes with a deadly side effect, as he will die just days later.

Given his family history, it’s clear that Jackson is at risk of contracting the disease himself, so if he were in the same situation and faced with the same opportunity, would he take it?

“As a risk-taker, which I’ve always been my whole life, I probably would, yes, because I want to fix some things.”

The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray will stream on Apple TV starting Friday.

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TV Samuel L Jackson is thinking about staying young and staring 91 in new series

Ryan Sederquist

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