Get Out star rebuts Jackson's black comment

British actor Daniel Kaluuya plays an African- American man who has a white girlfriend in Get Out.
British actor Daniel Kaluuya plays an African- American man who has a white girlfriend in Get Out.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

LONDON • Daniel Kaluuya, star of the satirical horror movie, Get Out, has countered Samuel L. Jackson's comments that he would have preferred to see a black American actor in the movie's lead role.

Get Out stars Kaluuya, who is black and British, as a young African- American man who visits his white girlfriend's family and quickly discovers that their antipathy towards black people extends beyond subtle jabs.

"I love all my black brothers and sisters worldwide and that's my position," the actor told the BBC in an interview, which was partially published online on Tuesday.

"I've lost out on a lot of roles because I'm black," he added.

In an interview with GQ published online on Monday, he praised Jackson - "he has done a lot so that we can do what we can do" - but found fault with his critique.

"When I'm around black people, I'm made to feel 'other' because I'm dark-skinned," he said. "I've had to wrestle with that, with people going 'You're too black.'"

"Then, I come to America and they say, 'You're not black enough'," he continued. "I go to Uganda, I can't speak the language. In India, I'm black. In the black community, I'm dark-skinned. In America, I'm British. Bro!"

Last week, Jackson told New York radio station Hot 97 that he thought an "American brother" would have added perspective to the lead role in Get Out and suggested that the United States has a more arduous relationship with race than Britain does.

Jackson, who said he had not seen the movie, said: "There are a lot of black British actors that work in this country. All the time. I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that... Because Daniel grew up in a country where there has been interracial dating for a hundred years... What would a brother from America have made of that role?"

Jackson, 68, later said his criticism was aimed at Hollywood as a whole, rather than at the creative team of Get Out.

With his comments, he stepped into a growing debate in Britain about the lack of opportunities for minority actors in British movies and TV. British actors including Naomie Harris, Idris Elba and David Oyelowo have all publicly addressed the issue.

In his interview with GQ, Kaluuya seemed to rebut Jackson's comments about the black experience in Britain being less fraught than that in the US.

"Police would round up all these black people, get them in the back of a van and wrap them in blankets so their bruises wouldn't show when they beat them," he said, citing riots in London that have pitted black citizens against the police.

"It's not in the mainstream media. Those stories aren't out there like that," he said, adding, "I just want to tell black stories."

Black British actors in movie roles about African-Americans have included Elba in The Wire and Oyelowo in Selma.

Still, Kaluuya, 27, does not see the issue. "I see black people as one man," he told GQ. "When I see people beaten on the streets of America, that hurts me. I feel that."

Over the weekend, the writer and director of Get Out, Jordan Peele, made history as the first black movie-maker to earn US$100 million (S$141 million) with a debut film. Get Out will be released in Britain tomorrow.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Get Out star rebuts Jackson's black comment'. Print Edition | Subscribe