Jackson Heroically Defends Campy Title for 'Snakes'

ByABC News
July 25, 2006, 12:33 PM

July 25, 2006 — -- "Snakes on a Plane" doesn't slither into theaters for several more weeks, and already it's a cult phenomenon. If you're still wondering why, perhaps you're not laughing hard enough at the over-the-top title.

In the movie, Samuel L. Jackson plays a reptile-wrangling FBI agent who squares off with the poisonous snakes who attack passengers on a flight heading from Hawaii to Los Angeles. But here's how Jackson really played hero: The one-time Oscar nominee fought New Line Cinema not to change the movie's campy title.

"People either want to see this movie or they don't," Jackson told an audience at a special screening of the horror film at San Diego's Comic-Con, a comic book convention.

Arguably, most summer movies are all about a marketable title that appeals to kids on school break looking for action. Jackson said he reminded New Line executives that the studio revived two moribund movie franchises -- "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th" -- because of snappy titles.

"That little movie you did called 'Freddy vs. Jason' -- it wasn't [called] 'Bad Movie Guy Fights Bad Movie Guy.' Let 'em know what they're going to see, OK?" he said.

But "Snakes on a Plane" means more than marketing to Jackson, who loves science fiction.

He said he nearly twisted George Lucas' arm to play Jedi Knight Mace Windu in "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith." Jackson told comic book fans that it was the title of the film, which was originally set to be helmed by "Freddy vs. Jason" director Ronny Yu that compelled him to ask for a part.

"I was sitting at home reading the trades, and I saw where it said 'Ronny Yu Fights Snakes' and I went, 'What is this?' So being friends with Ronny, I e-mailed him [and] said, 'You really doing a movie called 'Snakes on a Plane'? Can I be in it?"