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Samuel L. Jackson Trashes Ending Of Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 2, 2013 2:47 PM
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Lincoln Samuel L. Jackson

With votes due in just a couple of days, Oscar campaigning is nearly over, and the last few weeks have seen a fair bit of mudslinging. "Django Unchained" has been accused of playing fast and loose with the "n-word," Kathryn Bigelow is a torture-loving patriot, Tom Hooper is too in love with his fish-eye lens and every single movie is too long. Drag out an Oscar contender, and you can find some dirt on it. But Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" has largely gone by unscathed, except perhaps for some folks finding it too talky or stuffy. But leave it Samuel L. Jackson to throw some barbs at the movie.

Now, spoilers ahead for those of you who still haven't seen the movie, but essentially, Spielberg's film -- which mostly concerns itself with the political intrigue behind Lincoln's bid to end slavery -- ends with the President's off-camera assassination and death. Some have questioned why it needed to be in the movie at all, including Jackson. "I don't understand why it didn't just end when Lincoln is walking down the hall and the butler gives him his hat," he said. "Why did I need to see him dying on the bed? I have no idea what Spielberg was trying to do."

But that's not all. "I didn't need the assassination at all. Unless he's going to show Lincoln getting his brains blown out. And even then, why am I watching it?" Jackson continued. "The movie had a better ending 10 minutes before."

However, Spielberg has addressed the reasoning behind keeping John Wilkes Booth -- both in name and person -- out of the story. "We just knew we wouldn't show the assassination, because it would sensationalize the story. It would have suddenly focused the movie on the shooter, not the president," the director explained.

Of course, one could argue Jackson's complaints about "Lincoln," and how it could've ended earlier, could also apply to "Django Unchained," but that's neither here nor there. However, it's more industry cross talk as everyone in Hollywood makes the final push before voting wraps up on Friday. Stay classy, Oscars... [LA Times]

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  • Holly | September 30, 2013 7:49 PMReply

    Why does Samuel L Jackson think he is now the authority on all things? Just because you are an over paid over sensationalized actor, does not give you the right to climb up on your soap box constantly criticizing our President for not doing this or for doing that, for the movie Lincoln, which is about the most important things about Lincoln. Getting shot was history! It was HIS-STOR-Y! Not yours! The movie was excellent, the ending was touching. Where I saw the movie, not a dry eye in the house. Isn't that what you want from a movie? To be touched to tears?

  • Stephanie O'Daniel | March 27, 2013 10:51 PMReply

    Lincoln movie was a bore. It was about freeing slaves no more no less. The actors were good for the most part but the movie was long and drawn out and boring. The best part of the movie was the long list of actors but even that did not keep me awake. Sometimes movies are nominated for awards and win and people feel the movie is a hit because the academy awarded them. Sometimes the movie is just a bad movie that did not deserve the honor but let the academy nominate it and award a movie and people feel its a great movie when in actuality the movie deserves a rating of one star, at best and not the glory the academy gave it. I saw over the weekend 3 movies ... Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln and I could have waited for them to be on the TV networks. Neither was better than the other and not one deserved the praise they were given, never mind an Academy award. Good actors but bad scripts.

  • The Truth | March 27, 2013 11:08 PM

    It's called History, you shallow sap. Sorry that real circumstances hinder your precious time

  • innerjuju | February 25, 2013 1:37 PMReply

    Jackson has no right to comment on 'Lincoln'. Not after agreeing to be in DJango which was one of the worst movies of 2013... unless you are an avid Tarrantino fan.

  • ESTEBAN | February 25, 2013 4:35 PM


  • - | February 21, 2013 5:37 PMReply

    He's right, but it's pretty ironic that he says that when the last 15 minutes or so of Django mess up what would have otherwise been Tarantino's best film since Pulp Fiction.

  • DDman | February 25, 2013 2:14 PM

    15 minutes? How about 45 mintes were a disaster

  • Jason | February 21, 2013 5:11 AMReply

    Lincoln has received plenty of real criticism, regarding the fact that Spielberg completely left Frederick Douglas out of the movie. It makes the movie feel more 'white-savior' -esque, and there is really no valid reason to leave him out.

    No argument wanted, just pointing out that Lincoln does indeed have its skeletons

  • JD | February 18, 2013 6:27 AMReply

    A friend of mine gave the following reason as to why the ending is the way it is - It's because the film is told from the perspective of Lincoln's youngest child. He says that most of what happens during the film is told from his perspective in that most of the meetings take place when the child is around & we dont know about the eldest son until the youngest son brings him up. Would kinda agree with this but there are parts of the movie that the youngest child couldnt have known about, mainly the scenes between Lincoln & Molly/Mary what ever her name was.

  • Groggy Dundee | January 22, 2013 9:51 AMReply

    What's the story here? Jackson doesn't badmouth Lincoln as a whole - it's implied, almost, that he liked it except for the ending. I loved the movie but still thought it went about 15 minutes too long. It's a valid criticism.

  • cliff | January 17, 2013 10:49 AMReply

    I actually liked the ending.. It left me with a sense of incredible sadness at how the great man died after accomplishing his great act of abolishing slavery and uniting america. The scene allowed me to recognize the great loss we suffered when he died. It made me question myself what great deeds and positive impact will I create in this world before my own demise. It was inspirational and beautiful.

  • Sasson | January 15, 2013 5:55 AMReply

    Samuel Jackson, Sir?
    Please PAY MORE ATTENTION to the shitty roles you're doing in your crappy movies,
    instead of finding faults in far better movies than the terrible and often stereotype-portraying-enhancing movies which you choose to appear in.
    (BTW, I'm not a white person. I'm Indian, from India).

  • Donella | January 16, 2013 6:16 PM

    Quentin Tarantino yanks Samuel L. Jackson's chain, Jackson barks like a junkyard dog.

  • Moshe | January 15, 2013 3:36 PM

    Spot on, Sasson. It could not have been said better. I take issue with Samuel L. Jackson. He has a right to his opinion, and so do I. His role in Django Unchained was despicable. As an actor who commands $20 million dollars/film, it is unbelievable how Samuel would accept the stereotypical, "buffoon, Steppin'Fetchit" role that he did in Django. Amos 'n' Andy are alive and well in 2013. One comedian once said of black actors, "We will never play Rambo, until we stop playing Sambo". When it comes to demeaning, stereotypical roles - "Just Say NO!!!"
    BTW (I am an educated, African-American and I love myself and my culture enough to not use the N-word. No self-respecting person would.)

    "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds."

    - Bob Marley

  • Sheldon | January 14, 2013 11:31 PMReply

    They should have had Sam play Frederick Douglass in the film.

  • Bebe | January 14, 2013 2:25 PMReply

    Although I found 'Lincoln' to be an outstanding film. I have to agree with Mr. Jackson as well. I thought the walk down the hallway was a more powerful image after the butler handed him his hat. The end credits could have stated that the president was shot and killed at the hands of booth.

    One more scene was with the son which I thought could have been left out as well. It really didn't bring anything more to the film that could not have been explained from other characters.

  • Chris | January 15, 2013 7:16 PM

    I agree...I found myself researching John Wilkes Booth as soon as the film ended then I looked up Lincoln, his children, and the 13th Amendment....

    JWB should not have been a focal point (even though he wasn't mentioned, his action spoke louder than words)

  • Cyndi Cady | January 10, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    I had the identical comment as Mr. Jackson. Ending with Lincoln walking away to his inevitable fate would have been a beautiful ending. Anything after that was extraneous.

    I felt that the film needed some serious editing throughout...for example, there were numerous demonstrations of Lincoln's "folksiness" that didn't do a thing to move the plot along. One or two carefully selected moments would have done it (like when he knelt before the hearth to put a log on the fire, a gesture that told us more about him than 100 lines of dialog). I was so looking forward to this film and it dragged so much in places that I actually fell asleep TWICE.

    The film wasn't about Lincoln's life, just the events surrounding the end of the war and the 13th amendment signing; we didn't see his birth, we don't need to see his death.

  • illside | January 8, 2013 4:38 PMReply

    Why didn't they show the assassination? I watched "X" and watched Malcolm X die terribly, and it made you incredibly sad...and then it picked up with everyone vowing to continue his legacy to promote peace and equality. Is Lincoln too good to have his death depicted? Every Sunday school kid has seen Passion of Christ by now. Omit Wilkes-Booth? Why take the villain out of a good epic?

  • Royal Tenenbaum | January 8, 2013 12:58 PMReply

    Sadly Spielberg has been unable to end a movie properly for years. They just seem to trail off rather than have a proper full stop.

  • Bill Wenham | January 14, 2013 11:38 PM

    Gregg Calumet - those weren't aliens. You missed the point of the ending if that's what you thought.

  • Gregg Calumet | January 8, 2013 7:19 PM

    Thank you. You just helped me understand that. The same goes for "Artificial Intelligence"...that film should have ended with the android stuck under water. But Speilberg HAD to put some aliens in the film.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 1:42 PMReply

    obama is black
    he loved LINCOLN
    the majority of american people are scared shitless
    they won't dare say a word against spielberg's movie

  • RUF | January 28, 2013 8:26 AM

    What? You do realize we just had an election and the haters lost. Get a life!

  • Expert | January 4, 2013 6:15 PMReply

    "Of course, one could argue Jackson's complaints about "Lincoln," and how it could've ended earlier, could also apply to "Django Unchained,""

    No, no it couldn't. It ended with Django exacting his revenge, the entire point of the film. Ending it earlier would have made no sense. Author of this article is clearly a Spielberg fanboy who is upset Sam Jackson pointed out just one huge flaw in that disgrace of a movie.

  • Justin Zarian | January 8, 2013 12:51 PM

    I'm a fan both of Tarantino and Spielberg and I can tell you that both of their film's endings went too long. I actually agree with SLJ saying that last scene was unnecessary. Django's is having two endings with the first shoot out that climaxed the narrative and then going on after that for a second climax that threw off the plot's structure. The structure was already totally disorganized for Django long before that though, while Lincoln was actually a solid and literate script all throughout.

  • John Martin | January 4, 2013 1:47 PMReply

    Samuel are you still pissed cause you didn't win the Oscar for Pulp Fiction? If you remember the real ending of Lincoln came after showing him in the bed. It was a wonderful scene of Lincoln giving a speech and it blended beautifully with the understanding of the tragic consequences concerning the nature of Lincoln's life. If it makes you feel any better I thought you should have won for Pulp Fiction too. Now stop horsing around and find a role that will give you another chance.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 1:42 PM

    he should have won the oscar for JUNGLE FEVER

  • Justin | January 4, 2013 1:38 PMReply

    I completely understand where Jackson is coming from, and I think it would have been a good ending without the assassination... but I have to admit I choked up a bit at the end because of the assassination (offscreen though it was), so I'm glad Spielberg left it in.

  • E-FORCE | January 4, 2013 8:32 AMReply

    "Of course, one could argue Jackson's complaints about "Lincoln," and how it could've ended earlier, could also apply to "Django Unchained," but that's neither here nor there."

    May I hear your ending or from someone who wasn't interested in seeing Django complete his revenge? The celebration horse dance was the perfect ending. Everyone already knew how Lincoln passed. Bringing the movie to end on that note just didn't make sense to me.

  • Jen | January 4, 2013 3:15 AMReply

    Django's ending wasn't all that either.. that movie should've ended after the first shoot out. The second one was honestly dull and pretty much a carbon copy repeat.

  • | January 3, 2013 5:00 PMReply

    I agree with Samuel Jackson, the movie should have been cut with his walking down the hallway. The theater bit and death bed scene were totally unnecessary and added nothing. I might have gone from the hallway scene to a full screen, night-time shot of the Lincoln memorial with the reading of his inaugural address voice over.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 1:45 PM

    me too
    i agree
    the whole point of the movie was him trying to get rid of slavery NOT his life story
    the movie had no need to show him after he got rid of slavery

  • Don R | January 4, 2013 11:16 AM

    Right on!

  • Alan | January 2, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    "Trashes" is a little overheated. He didn't like the ending and thought it should have ended earlier, big deal. Credit to the 'Django' guys for being the only filmmakers who have seen the films they've talked about to the media. Spike Lee, John Singleton, David Cronenberg etc. have all talked about 'Django' or 'TDKR' without bothering to see those respective films, so I appreciate people like Jackson and Tarantino who want to discuss films in an informed way, rather than give a dumb, uninformed opinion.

  • Black Jesuscom | January 2, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    The omission of Frederick Douglas is just a
    portion of the convenient oversights in this
    film. To get the real truth about Lincoln
    and slavery you must listen to noted historian
    Lerone Bennett.

  • Alan | January 4, 2013 1:14 AM

    I am not sure whether you are trying to take my identity or not, but there is another Alan on this board, so maybe we should use different usernames, OK. I'll be Alan B from now on ...

  • Alan | January 3, 2013 9:00 PM

    Take it from a historian - Bennett's work is based on faulty research and a narrow political agenda. A more accurate portrayal of Lincoln and his personal and political views on slavery is The Firey Trial by Eric Foner.

  • Glass | January 2, 2013 5:08 PMReply

    Agreed, we didn't need to see his lifeless body carried into a bed. It overbaked the film. I can't believe Lincoln has so many passionate supporters now - I thought we all agreed it was manipulative and forgettable Hollywood crap?

  • William | January 3, 2013 9:43 AM

    Nop,most people do not think it's forgettable Hollywood crap,quite the opposite in fact.

  • Conor | January 2, 2013 4:33 PMReply

    I actually totally agree with him.

  • Daniel | January 2, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    I liked Lincoln quite a bit, but agree with Jackson; ending as he walks out would would have been an elegant ending to a very focused film, one that up til that point avoids most of the tableaux-tropes of a Lincoln story. Weirdly, even though Jackson is suggesting a very un-Tarantino ending, everyone seems to forget this in favor of commenting on how bloodthirsty he his for the last, and clearly joking, part of his statement. The guy is saying, unless you are going to really say something with a scene, then don't do it. Sounds like a decent motto for good filmmaking.

  • jay | January 2, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Mr jackson loves to hear himself talk its obvious it lashed out here because of so much flack his movie is recieving .Lincoln is and actual historical peice where as django unchained is blaxploitation film.Ones educational ones purely entertainment

  • Donella | January 14, 2013 12:27 PM

    Samuel L. Jackson didn't get nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, did he? I wonder if that bothers him?

  • PT | January 2, 2013 4:05 PMReply

    ""I didn't need the assassination at all. Unless he's going to show Lincoln getting his brains blown out." Real telling.

  • K.C. | January 4, 2013 1:16 PM

    How about finishing the quote? "And even then, why am I watching it?" That changes the whole meaning.

  • Megan | January 2, 2013 3:41 PMReply

    While I think Sammy is mostly running off the mouth as Sammy will often do, I agree. We all know how the story of Abraham Lincoln ends. I feel like his assasination was shoe-horned in out of necessity. I had actually anticipated an ending similar to what Jackson described: Lincoln calmly leaves for his evening at the theatre, and the rest is history. It would've given a grander and more mythic tone to the film. But that choice wasn't a terrible one, and it was an excellent movie.

  • Les | January 2, 2013 3:40 PMReply

    I think Mr. Jackson has been in one too many Quintin Tarintino movies. I saw it yesterday and have no problem with the way it ended. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is a historical fact, but I'm fine without seeing the act itself in the movie. Not everything has to be about blood and guts, dispite the way it seems these days.

  • maryooch | January 2, 2013 9:41 PM

    Cant wait till your movie comes out this year I'm sure it will be a blockbuster hit!!!! They didn't show the actual assassination they showed the play his son Willie was at the night he was assassinated, not Ford's theater. Mr. Jackson is all about blood and guts and bull**** science fiction crap, aka Quintin Tarantino.

  • regi | January 2, 2013 3:39 PMReply

    my response to this critique is a deep shrug. it seems like little more than a quibble about a rather arbitrary artistic choice, imo. i'm surprised he didn't point out the more profoundly troubling lack of a serious presence by black abolitionists at the center of the slavery debate: where, for instance, was frederick douglass? he wasn't even mentioned from what i recall. also, while his performance is enigmatic and skillful, i'm left wondering about day lewis' portrayal of lincoln when he is talking to black people: he seems to treat them with a sort of condescending offhandedness. much like what was his apparent political perspective (if i have to free them, i will, but if i don't have to, i won't), he seems to deal with them like someone reconciled to cleaning up after his dog. was that verisimilitude?

  • Caleb | January 4, 2013 5:23 PM

    Old Abe was actually kind of racist. I just watched the film for a second time today and this scene really struck me because of how accurately I felt Daniel portrayed how Lincoln would have held a conversation with an African American.

    I'm not saying this to attack Lincoln as he is by far my favorite president; and I'm aware of his friendship with Frederick Douglass. But you are right when describing his political perspective. He agreed that African Americans were intellectually inferior during the Lincoln-Douglass debates and favored the notion of transporting the freed slaves to Africa well into his presidency.

    I see Lincoln as a product of his time. He recognized the injustice of slavery and wanted to halt its expansion, but he didn't feel it could be ended constitutionally. I believe his apparent lack of sympathy stems from him never dealing with African Americans personally until his time in office. The idea of abolition was deemed "radical" during this time period and Lincoln never liked including emotion in politics.

  • Kerry | January 4, 2013 1:11 PM

    Sorry to nit pick, it was his son Tad who was seen at the theater reacting to the news of his father's death. Willie had died a couple of years earlier of an illness. I also agree that Frederick Douglas should have had his contribution at least mentioned. And, I think the best one volume book on Lincoln was "With Malice Towards None", by Stephen Oates.

  • Todd | January 2, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    Shorter Jackson: Spielberg hasn't called me since 'Jurassic Park'

    Also, I might have watched 'Lincoln' if DDL had blown up Congress and then rode off with Sally Field.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 2:01 PM

    Shorter Jackson: i can tell the truth about the end of Lincoln
    because i am black
    but since my latest movie (django unchained) has some violence in it
    people want to bitch and cry
    just because some sicko killed a bunch of people the week it was supposed to hit cinemas

  • Daniel | January 2, 2013 3:23 PMReply

    I'm with Samuel on this one.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 2:04 PM

    me too
    about time people grew a pair
    and told the truth about LINCOLN
    if that movie was released when bush was president
    we would all be honest
    and say it is the exact same as clint eastwood INVICTUS
    great performances
    but feels like a fu***** lecture from start to finish

  • curious | January 2, 2013 3:22 PMReply

    "Unless he's going to show Lincoln getting his brains blown out"

    No thank you Mr. Jackson not everybody has the same desire of blood and gore you seem to be having. Lincoln is perfect the way it is. From start to Finish.

  • Smile | January 2, 2013 5:27 PM

    We "All" agreed? Why should everyone have your opinion? There are many, many, many people out there that consider it one of the, maybe even the, best movie of the year

  • No | January 2, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    Interesting. While I agree with his take on the Lincoln ending, Jackson is still complaining about a film that shows its lead character mortally wounded while he's in a film that has two bloody shoot-em ups and goes on for way too long.

  • Toro | February 18, 2013 9:30 PM

    Gerard Kennelly is an insane moron. That is all.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 2:08 PM

    @ NO ...

    jackson's in a film that has two bloody shoot-em ups and goes on for way too long ....

    if django unchained was based on a true story and obama ''loved'' it you would all be falling over each other to go on about how much you lovveeee lincoln

  • GERARD KENNELLY | January 6, 2013 2:07 PM

    @ NO ...

    jackson's in a film that has two bloody shoot-em ups and goes on for way too long ....

    if django unchained was based on a true story and obama ''loved'' it you would all be falling over each other to go on about how much you lovveeee lincoln

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