Although it’s been 19 years since the last movie called Shaft, the newest incarnation is a very different beast. First, there’s Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his role from the 2000 John Singleton movie, as well as the original Shaft Richard Roundtree, his role changed a little since last time. They’re joined by John Shaft Jr. aka “J.J.,” as played by Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence), who brings a very different dynamic to the new movie.
This time around, the Tim Story-directed Shaft is more of an action-comedy that plays on the awkward relationship between father and son Shafts as they try to work together to solve a case and stop a Harlem-based drug ring. J.J. is far more “woke” than his foul-mouthed father, who often feels the need to resort to violence to get the answers they need. While Jackson’s previous foray as John Shaft was R-rated, this one takes that R-rating to a new level.
I spoke with all three actors at the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem – probably some of the best junket food I’ve ever eaten, mind you!
Topics discussed in the video interview below include:
- What it took to get Roundtree and Jackson back in their roles as Shaft and why it took so long.
- How they hadn’t been developing a Shaft sequel/remake since 2000 and that producer Jon Davis had to be reminded that Jackson played Shaft in that movie.
- Jessie Usher talks about his own experiences with Shaft and refamiliarizing himself with that world to play J.J.
Roundtree talks about the more comedic angle the new Shaft takes compared to the previous movies.
- Jackson talks about what having stronger female characters in the movie and what they bring to the story.
Incidentally, after the video stopped rolling, I did ask Jackson about him returning to play Nick Fury in the MCU, and he was fairly non-committal:
“I don’t ask questions,” he told me. “I just kind of show up and do what they ask me to do. I’ve learned a long time ago that I’m not gonna ask, ‘I need a Nick Fury movie!’ I don’t know if I do or don’t. People would like to see it, and if you do it, fine, do it. If you don’t, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I go to work.”