Samuel L. Jackson resisted calls to make The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey into a movie because he felt the story needed to be told as a series.
In the series adaptation of Walter Mosley’s novel, Jackson plays Ptolemy, a 91-year-old man with dementia who is temporarily able to remember his past and uses the time to investigate the death of his nephew.
Jackson has been trying to get the adaptation made for around 10 years and kept having to push back against the suggestion that the story should be told in two hours.
“They’ve been trying to force an hour and a half to two-hour formats down our throats for a while, and I’ve resisted that because I felt the story needed to be longer and aired out,” he explained to Collider. “But nobody wanted to do that. So, there was some resistance there. We’d let the rights run out, and then we’d pick them back up and run somewhere else to see if we could do it again.
“But we finally reached a point where the format and the timing came together, where the characters would have an opportunity to breathe and give an audience the opportunity to take a trip with those particular characters, that hopefully is satisfying and adds colour and depth to a story that I don’t think could have been told in an hour and a half.”
The Avengers star explained that his make-up artist and hairdresser have been ready to transform him into Ptolemy for years but they had to wait for the script to be ready. Jackson felt unsatisfied with the scripts he received and ended up hiring Mosley to write the series.
“Even when I bought the rights in the beginning, Walter was not the scriptwriter,” he continued. “We hired several other people to write it, who wrote interesting scripts, but like nothing was gonna tell this story in an hour and a half or two hours, in a way that was gonna be satisfying for me, so I just couldn’t let that happen.”
The series is streaming on Apple TV+ now.