While Oscar Pistorius was winning fans during last year’s London Olympic Games, he was also winning over some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
The most vocal of those is one of Tinseltown’s top actors, Samuel L Jackson, who stars in Django Unchained, which opened on Friday. Jackson is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the highest-grossing actor of all time.
Months after the Olympics, Jackson says he remains a huge fan of the Paralympics star. It started when Pistorius became the first double amputee to participate in the men’s able-bodied 400m race. Jackson began tweeting his admiration to his almost 2?million followers on Twitter.
“I’d been watching him for a while,” he said during an interview in New York to promote Django’s release.
“It’s very inspiring to see the dedication of an athlete who can achieve what he’s achieved and I was just so glad that they decided to let him compete in the ordinary Olympics.”
The Oscar-nominated star became the highest-grossing actor in Hollywood in October 2011. His films have brought in an estimated $7.4?billion (R66?billion) – and counting – at the box office, setting a new record that doesn’t look like it will be broken any time soon.
When it comes to the other Oscar, some movie pundits were unhappy that Jackson’s character in Django Unchained didn’t earn him another nod from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for playing what some have called one of the most hated black men ever put on film.
Jackson plays a slave who rats out others to gain favour with his white master in the antebellum South of Quentin Tarantino’s Western.
Tarantino picked up a Best Screenplay Award for the movie at the Golden Globes last weekend. The film’s subject matter of slavery, and his frequent use of the n-word and violence – hallmarks of Tarantino movies – have courted controversy, especially in the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 27 people were killed.
But Jackson says he has much admiration and respect for the director and the film. “Tarantino has a way of making people laugh at detestable things.
“He has a way of making it more palatable sometimes. The things that are said and the things that are seen on screen – the visuals of it – kind of change people’s attitudes.”
Jackson, a notable figure in the Civil Rights Movement, hopes Django Unchained will resonate around the world.
In a nation with South Africa’s history, it should.
Jackson’s appreciation for the country began before he started spreading the word about Pistorius, having filmed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission-inspired drama In My Country. More recently, he lent his voice to the South African animated film Adventures in Zambezia.
He was also due to film with David R Ellis in Johannesburg before the director was found dead in his hotel room, the cause of which is still unknown.