The following article features SPOILERS for the opening of Life Itself. Please don’t read ahead if you’re yet to see the dramedy.
“Life Itself” is a unique movie.
Not just because it brazenly wears its heart on its sleeve, but also because it meshes together various storylines that are set decades apart in different parts of the world.
But arguably the most surreal part of the whole movie unfolds at the very start, where we hear Samuel L Jackson’s very meta narration over the top of a scene featuring Oscar Isaac and Annette Bening.
It concludes with Being being hit by a bus and then Jackson emerging on-screen to reveal his dismay at what he’s just seen. I recently had the chance to speak to “Life Itself’s” writer and director Dan Fogelman, who broke down Samuel L Jackson’s cameo, which he admitted was “odd.”
“The ambition was, I knew the movie was going to take a lot of risks and that it was going to switch tone and kind of surprise the audience.”
“I really wanted to start with something that told the audience, ‘You don’t exactly know what is going to happen here. This movie is going to switch languages half way through.’”
“Just by having something so odd and unusual at the beginning it kind of puts people in that headspace tonally. That was part of it.”
“I wrote it chronologically. That was the first scene I wrote. I wrote it for Sam Jackson. And then suddenly we had to go and get Sam Jackson.”
“I basically sent him the pages through his agent. I asked him, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And he said, ‘You wrote my name in it! I have to do it.’”
“We got him for a couple of hours for one day, then we shot it. He did the voiceover. And we did it. It was a really fun part of making the movie.”
“Life Itself” is now in cinemas.