How Sam Jackson managed to play a much younger Nick Fury in 'Captain Marvel'

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in Captain Marvel. (Photo: Chuck Zlotnick)

By Kevin Polowy, Yahoo Entertainment

“What is the aspect of Nick that’s the most different from the one we’ve seen?” Samuel L. Jackson was asked last spring on the Culver City, California set of Captain Marvel.

“He’s younger,” Jackson shot back bluntly in true suffering-no-fools fashion.

Prodded, the 70-year-old actor who’s portrayed S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury in eight previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, finally relented. “About 30 years younger. And not as jaded about the world yet. He hasn’t grown into his cynicism yet.”

Captain Marvel, which introduces to the eponymous intergalactic hero played by Brie Larson, is set in the 1990s (just how ’90s is this movie? Check out the official website , which is amazingly retro, or the Russian teaser, which shows Fury messing with a familiar pager), which means Jackson is de-aged by CGI using the same techniques Marvel previously employed for younger looks at Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym in Ant-Man (2015), Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Kurt Russell’s Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017).

The major difference: While those previous effects were done for specific flashback scenes, Jackson is de-aged for the entirety of the movie – a movie in which he is second billed. “There is a Nick Fury origin story in there,” said executive producer Jonathan Schwartz. “It becomes a two hander for parts of it. So. We sort of wanted to give the audience that kind of young Nick Fury origin story and it’s all there. Hopefully in a way that compliments Carol’s adventure, too.”

Another major character: Young Phil Coulson, another renowned agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., reprised by a de-aged Clark Gregg.

“Thankfully, both Clark and Sam look amazing, which is a big help for us,” said Schwartz. It’s certainly more shots than we’ve had to do in other movies. We’ve de-aged Robert, who looks amazing, and Kurt, who also looks amazing. We’ve been very lucky with the actors who’ve gone through this process. But this will be significantly more in a movie than we’ve ever done before, which is a fun challenge to have. But I don’t think we could ever ask someone to step into Sam Jackson’s shoes, so I’m glad we’re doing it.”

As for Fury’s character arc, “We’re meeting Nick Fury at a very interesting time in his life,” Schwartz said. It’s kind of the mid 90s the Cold War is over, the war on terror hasn’t begun yet. It’s a little bit of a slow period for worldwide espionage. And I think Fury is kind of wondering what his place in the world is, in a world where he feels maybe a little obsolete. And then aliens come down from outer space.” Added Jackson: “The next problem will be convincing everyone else that that’s true.”

Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Captain Marvel’ (Disney/Marvel)

Carol Danvers (Larson), then, becomes the first superhero Fury ever encounters when the pair team up to battle the hostile alien Skrulls. “She sort of gets to be the window to him for this entire, bigger universe,” Schwartz explained. Ironically, the film’s events should ultimately provide plenty of context for that end credits sequence in Avengers: Infinity War – the last time Fury interacted with a superhero – when it was revealed that he was attempting to page Captain Marvel.

In this film, we’ll then see Fury evolve from desk jockey to director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Jackson explained.

Notably, the younger version of Fury in Captain Marvel is not donning his usual eye patch, so that it stands to reason that we’ll finally see how we lost it. (“Pass,” Schwartz answered coyly when asked if that’d be the case.)

Asked what the most enjoyable part of playing Fury at this stage in his life as opposed to when we normally see him, Jackson reverted to his half-jokey stoicism.

“Payday,” he said simply.

Again, given a moment, he elaborated.

“Yeah, [the] payday’s nice. Most enjoyable thing about him… he’s not burdened by the weight of the world the way he is [in later movies] and he hadn’t come to resent the powers that be in terms of how they view the world and how they view what he does. And the seriousness of the situation. They’re totally unaware of it right now. So his next challenge is convincing them that we do need to enlist people who have extraordinary gifts that can help us defend not just the country but the world.”

And look good – or at least 30 years younger – while doing it.

Captain Marvel opens March 8. Watch the latest trailer:

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