Samuel L. Jackson portrays real-life unsung hero in 'Legend of Tarzan'

Jun 25, 2016
samuel l. jackson george washington williams legend of tarzan

Samuel L. Jackson stars in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Legend of Tarzan” as George Washington Williams,  Tarzan’s unexpected ally in the film and real-life but relatively unsung hero from 19th-century American history.

“George Washington Williams was a man of so many talents and such bravery – to be this 14-year-old kid and go off to fight in the war between the States,” Jackson details. “And he went on to run for office, became a preacher, and did so many other things. So it was an opportunity to let people know that there was this man, historically, who actually went to the Congo and wrote a letter to King Leopold II about what he was doing to its population. Hopefully, people will see this movie and dig out their phones – or, as we used to say, ‘go to the library’ – and Google George Washington Williams and find out what actually transpired in the Congo.”

Of course, the real Williams didn’t race through the Congolese jungle with Tarzan, but Jackson says it “makes for a fun relationship” between the mismatched pair, and is part of the story’s subtle nod to the dark period in Africa’s history in which it’s set. “We’re obviously telling a fictional story,” Jackson observes, “but I love the reality of what’s going on inside of it, and [director] David Yates deals with those elements in a very real and positive way.”

samuel l. jackson george washington williams legend of tarzan

Jackson is clearly having a blast on the project, and admits that his childhood affinity for the Tarzan legend might have something to do with it. “I’d swing on ropes in my neighborhood and everywhere else, pretending and playing Tarzan.”

On his collaboration with Alexander Skarsgård and creating the camaraderie that develops between their characters, Jackson shares, “It’s a fun relationship. Tarzan doesn’t want to like George, but once he realizes his tenacity and his commitment and loyalty, he begins to understand him a bit better. George is considerably older than everybody in the film, and Tarzan, Kwete [played by Osy Ikhile] and the other tribesmen, they run everywhere. So I decided that George would always be trying to keep up, saying, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m right behind you.’ But by the time I show up, they’ve already made a plan and are getting ready to go somewhere else. I’d be like: [Mimes panting]. And they’d just look at me and take off running again [laughs]. But George keeps his determination up, and every time they think they’ve lost him, he shows up, so that kind of makes them look at him in another way.

samuel l. jackson george washington williams legend of tarzan

“But I met Alex as a little kid when I was doing `Deep Blue Sea’ with his dad [Stellan Skarsgård],” continues Jackson. “Alex would always be in Stellan’s dressing room playing on the computer. So when we saw each other again on this film, I was like, ‘Man, you grew up!’ It was kind of fun to see him become what he’s become.”

From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures comes the action adventure “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård as the legendary character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The film also stars Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou, with Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

samuel l. jackson george washington williams legend of tarzan

David Yates (the final four “Harry Potter” films, upcoming “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) directed “The Legend of Tarzan” from a screenplay by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, story by Brewer and Cozad based on the Tarzan stories created by Burroughs.

Slated for release across the Philippines on Thursday, June 30, “The Legend of Tarzan” is distributed in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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