Samuel L. Jackson on aging, ‘fighting the fear’ of Alzheimer’s

Samuel L. Jackson is gearing up for the Apple TV+ release of one of his most personal projects yet. In the new show The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Jackson plays a 93-year-old man suffering from dementia.

“I’m getting older every day,” Jackson, 73, tells U.K.’s i newspaper. “I’m kind of old. I know a lot about getting old! I have been around for a while.”

Samuel L. Jackson at The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey premiere in Los Angeles on March 7, 2022.Samuel L. Jackson at The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey premiere in Los Angeles on March 7, 2022.

Samuel L. Jackson at The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey premiere in Los Angeles on March 7, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

Jackson prefaces the show is “not just a dirge about Alzheimer’s dementia,” revealing there’s a sci-fi element and “a lot of other different things.” But for the Oscar-nominated star, the project hits close to home. Several of his own family members, including his mother and grandfather, suffered from Alzheimer’s.

“As they passed on, I just became more determined to tell this story and get it out there. And make sure people understand that the people they loved are still there, inside that person, so you can’t throw them away. You have to care for them and love them as if they’re still contributing to your life,” he explains.

Although Jackson admits he thinks about the possibility of suffering from Alzheimer’s down the road, he’s doing what he can to keep his mind sharp. The actor is preparing to return to Broadway for the first time since 2011 and is starting to memorize his lines.

“I don’t know if I’m as facile as I used to be in terms of learning that much dialogue. Knowing that I can get up every day, regurgitate dialogue and do all this stuff helps me fight off the fear of genetically being caught up in everything my parents and grandparents were,” Jackson shares.

It’s not often we see a serious side from the Pulp Fiction, Avengers and Snakes on a Plane star, but Jackson says this project was important.

“I think there’s a place for stories like this, that need to be told,” he adds. “I just don’t tell them that often.”