From ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Jackie Brown’ and ‘Django Unchained’ and countless, it’s undisputed, Hollywood veteran Samuel L. Jackson, 73, the highest grossing actor of all time, has cemented his legacy in the sand of time.
Looking back at his journey, the Star Wars and The Avengers star in a recent chat opened up about his drug addiction – and how his wife of 41 years, The Fighting Temptations star LaTayna Richardson Jackson, 72, saved his life – “She didn’t have to try to fix me,” he said.
‘She hung in there … she gave me the chance to be the man I was supposed to be.’
Speaking on People’s podcast program People Everyday, Jackson talked about his drug battle and how the unwavering support of his wife LaTayna during the toughest time in his life helped him pull through.
Born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Samuel L. Jackson’s father, Roy Henry Jackson, who he barely knew was an alcoholic. In the 1970s when his acting career just started kicking off, Samuel Jackson became addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
LaTayna described a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they were living in a New York brownstone with Samuel battling his addiction as “a villa in hell.”
Samuel added: “I was like the troll in the basement, and every now and then I’d come upstairs and hover around to do something.”
“I was addicted and being crazy,” he said.
When their daughter Zoe, 39, who was only eight at the time, found Samuel passed out on the floor, his wife ordered him into rehab.
“She hung in there,” Samuel said.
“She could’ve just said, ‘get out’, and let me out into the world, let me go and be whatever I was going to be.”
But a determined LaTanya stuck by unshaken and helped him through.
“I felt as though God had spoken to me and said, ‘you can’t leave this young man like this. Give him some help. And then, if you feel like leaving afterwards, we’ll talk about it’,” LaTayna explained.
“There was a lot of repair work that had to be done, a lot of trust that had to be rebuilt.”
After coming out of rehab, Samuel was cast by Spike Lee as Wesley Snipes’ crack-addicted brother in Jungle Fever, which came out in 1991. He then began to get noticed by other directors and big roles began flooding in. Today he’s a multi award winner and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Recalling further, he said:
“I didn’t have time to stop and think about my addiction,” said the actor, who has now been in recovery for three decades.
“My life was changing artistically to the point where it was like all the things I had wished that I could do when I was that young drunk actor running around New York started happening.
“In my mind, if I did any of the things that I used to do, all those things would be taken away from me, because I knew how easy it was to slide down the other side.
“You go down quicker than you go up.”
Samuel and LaTayna who met in college have now been married for 41 years. They have daughter, Zoe, 39.
LaTanya, 72, shared, “In the beginning, we always said the most revolutionary thing that Black people could do was stay together, raise their children with the nucleus of having a father and a mother, since everybody likes to pretend that that’s not the dynamic of the African-American family. That it’s just children out here being raised by women, which we know is false.
“In order to change that narrative, we made a decision to say, ‘We are going to stay together no matter what. We’ll figure it out.’”
Mega successful and famous, regardless of it all, Samuel L. Jackson remains modest about his career, insisting: “Coming from the kind of backgrounds we come from and the people that raised us, we learn that we’re not better than anybody else. A job is a job. We were fortunate enough to have a job.”
The power couple are now co-producers on the Apple TV+ limited series “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”, a drama starring Samuel as Ptolemy, a man with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.
The project was personal to Samuel because his grandfather and mother had Alzheimer’s.
“I’m amazed at how busy we are in our seventh decade,” LaTanya gushed. “I’m grateful because I think of all the things that could be.”
Samuel added of the secret to a successful marriage: “It’s two people who respect each other, love each other, and look out for each other.”