While David Yates has spent the better half of the last decade embroiled in the magical world of Harry Potter, the director made a detour to the realm of men and beasts with his upcoming spin on another beloved fantasy classic, Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Tarzan. The Legend of Tarzan picks up eight years after the original Tarzan ends, with the character leaving the jungle behind for a domesticated life in Victorian London as Jon Clayton III, Lord Greystoke with his beloved wife Jane (Margot Robbie). He finds himself called back to his roots as the Lord of the Apes when he becomes a pawn in the game of the Belgian Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), a fiendish mastermind on a mission of greed and revenge.
Yates is also bringing an unusual spin to Tarzan’s cinematic history by exploring the real-world historical conditions that populated the heroes time period, including King Leopold’s atrocities in the Congo. While at CinemaCon, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Samuel L. Jackson, who stars in The Legend of Tarzan as George Washington Williams, a real-life Civil War veteran and historian, about why the “historical significance” of the events at the heart of The Legend of Tarzan made him want to be a part of the film.
Here’s what he said:
“It’s one of those movies that I’m doing because it’s the movie I would have gone to see if I was a kid. I loved Tarzan movies when I was a kid. I watched a bunch of them on television and at the movies, so it was really a no brainer for me. But upon reading the script I realized the historical significance of what we were talking about in this film and shedding a light on what actually happened in the Congo with King Leopold and how that was the first sort of Holocaust that actually happened on the planet, all the Africans that he killed in his quest for diamonds, ivory and rubber.”
Jackson also talked about how Yates’ vision as a filmmaker helped articulate both the historical elements of the film’s narrative and Jackson’s character work in the films.
“David’s a very smart and accomplished filmmaker. He knows what he wants to do and he knows how he wants to do it. In the midst of all that he gives us tremendous freedom to create these characters and bring all these things to what we’re doing. The fact that I was able to read King Leopold’s ghost and figure out who George Washington Williams was as a real person, who was sort of the first African American to go into the Congo and discover what King Leopold was doing. He helped me find who that guy was and what his intentions wee and how we were going to make it work in terms of me being a catalyst for Tarzan going back home, in terms of what kind of guy I was going to be when I got there, David had a very clear idea of who those characters were and what their interactions were.”
And of course, Steve asked about Jackson’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury, the Avengers-herding badass who is noticeably absent from Captain America: Civil War. When Steve spoke with directors Joe and Anthony Russo at the Civil War junket, they hinted that Fury’s whereabouts would be revealed in Avengers: Infinity War. While Jackson naturally played coy about what his role may be, he did confirm that he’s had discussions to appear in both parts of the two-film saga saying, “I hear I’m in 3 and 4, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
For more of our CinemaCon coverage click here, or peruse our recent links below.
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