Among Samuel L. Jackson’s most distinguishing, amusing and popular trademarks are his caustic, often foul-mouthed rants he has fired off in films such as “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown” and “Snakes on a Plane.”
But when Jackson unleashed a vicious tirade at KTLA-TV Channel 5 entertainment reporter Sam Rubin during a live segment Monday after Rubin apparently confused him with Laurence Fishburne, it turned out to be one of the most humiliating moments in the veteran reporter’s career.
Or, to quote Jules Winnfield, the Bible-quoting hitman portrayed by Jackson in “Pulp Fiction,” there was “great vengeance and furious anger” aimed at the mortified Rubin.
Rubin, who was in KTLA’s Hollywood studios (like The Times owned by Tribune Co.), was conducting a remote interview with Jackson, who was promoting his new film “RoboCop.” The segment started out shakily when Rubin asked the actor, who was in Atlanta, if he was surprised that “the phone rings as much as it does.” Jackson seemed taken aback and a bit insulted.
After discussing the trailer for the upcoming “Captain America” film which costars Jackson that aired during the Super Bowl, Rubin continued to praise the actor, and asked him if he got a lot of reaction “from that Super Bowl commercial.” A confused Jackson asked, “What Super Bowl commercial?”
Rubin appeared befuddled and looked off camera, but Jackson instantly sensed that Rubin was confusing him with African American actor Fishburne, who was featured in a Kia commercial that was broadcast during the Super Bowl.
“You’re as crazy as those people on Twitter,” scolded Jackson, pointing a finger at the camera. “I’m not Laurence Fishburne! We don’t all look alike!”
Rubin clumsily admitted he had made a mistake and tried to make light of the misstep, but Jackson relentlessly pressed on, clearly gleeful at Rubin’s embarrassment.
“You’re the entertainment reporter?” he said to Rubin in an incredulous tone. “You’re the entertainment reporter for this station and you don’t know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?”
“My mistake,” said Rubin. “My big mistake. I apologize.”
Jackson lashed out, “There must be a very short line for your job.”
Though Rubin made several attempts to recover, Jackson wouldn’t let up. When the reporter said, “Let’s talk about ‘RoboCop,’” Jackson gleefully said, “Oh, hell no. Really? Really?” He told Rubin he was also not Morgan Freeman, and he had never appeared in a commercial for McDonald’s or KFC.
In a later segment, Rubin profusely apologized for the mistake, though he tried to put more of the weight of the mistake on Jackson than himself, saying the actor was confused by what commercial he had been referring to.
Still, he admitted that Jackson gave him a shellacking that was “well-deserved,” and that he was “really embarrassed” by what was “a very amateurish mistake.”