So a few weeks ago I sat down with Samuel L. Jackson and he was ready to walk away from Marvel Studios and all of their big plans for him as Nick Fury, the one-eyed Marvel character that has been fighting the good fight against Nazis, spies and aliens for decades. The issue, of course, was money.
“There was a huge kind of negotiation that broke down,” Jackson told me during the interview at the Four Seasons Hotel. “I don’t know. Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury. Maybe somebody else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it. There seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world so [they're saying to me], ‘We’re not making that deal.’”
Well, it turns out that hardball is a lucrative sport. Here’s the story from the trades, written by Borys Kit, one of Hollywood’s busiest reporters:
The actor, who just weeks ago was seemingly on the outs with the studio over reprising his role as Nick Fury, agent of spy outfit S.H.I.E.L.D., has signed an unprecedented nine-picture deal to play the character in a series of Marvel movies.
The movies include “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America,” “The Avengers” and its sequels.
Also on the table is the possibility of toplining a “S.H.I.E.L.D.” movie, which is in development.
The actor, repped by ICM and Anonymous Content, made a surprise appearance as Fury at the end of the first “Iron Man,” throwing geeks into a tizzy and showing the first glimpse of Marvel’s plan to link all their slate of movies into one filmic universe.
Jackson and Fury were expected to be part of the sequel, but as Marvel negotiated with its cast, deals proved hard to come by. Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle. Mickey Rourke still doesn’t have a deal for the part of a villain despite almost two months of negotiations.
When I met with Jackson he seemed really bent out of shape but, well, he is an actor. Regardless, I’m sure he is smiling today. A nine-movie deal is quite a bit of job security for an action hero who blew out 60 candles on his last birthday. And the commitment by Marvel also assures the star that he will be the glue that holds together the Marvel Universe on screen during the ambitious plan to interconnect movie franchises on an unprecedented scale.
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Credit: Samuel L. Jackson in January 2009, photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images