Samuel L. Jackson calls his new TV series, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, premiering Friday on Apple TV+, a modern-day fairy tale.
In the adaptation of Walter Mosley’s book, Jackson, 73, plays Ptolemy Grey, a 91-year-old man with dementia given a chance to temporarily regain his memories.
Do the Right Thing was Spike Lee’s charged racism drama. Jackson played a homeless man in The Caveman’s Valentine and Resurrecting the Champ.
He played a veteran with PTSD in Home of the Brave and bluesman who holds a sex addict prisoner in Black Snake Moan. Like his other dramatic roles, Jackson said playing Ptolemy Grey did not weigh on him after wrapping.
Jackson said he always separates his work from his real-life emotions.
“I’m not a method actor,” Jackson said. “I just kind of turned on the emotional asset that I’m able to access. Then when I get off, I talk to my agent on the phone about things that I need to do later on.”
But he can relate to simple memory loss issues.
“Every time I walk into a room, and I can’t remember why I walked in there, or I can’t remember the name of an actor in this movie, all those things mean something to me,” Jackson said. “It’s an honest and, hopefully, endearing assessment of the deterioration of life that a lot of us face.”
Jackson said he hopes to continue to work into his 90s. Though his family has a history of Alzheimer’s, Jackson said they also have a history of longevity.ADVERTISEMENT.
Despite Samuel L. Jackson’s lengthy acting career — from his role in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to his many appearances as Marvel character Nick Fury — he has yet to lead a television series. With Apple TV+’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, that is about to change. Jackson stars and executive produces the project, which follows the story of Ptolemy Grey, an elderly man struggling with dementia who’s living in solitary squalor, and the loved ones who offer support for (or take advantage of) his deteriorating condition.
Inspired by the critically acclaimed book by Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress), who also executive produced the six-episode limited series, the program features a talented ensemble that includes Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah) as his young caregiver Robyn; Damon Gupton as Coydog, Ptolemy’s uncle and mentor in flashbacks; Omar Benson Miller as his beloved nephew Reggie; Marsha Stephanie Blake as his mistrusting niece Niecy; Cynthia Kaye McWilliams as his one true love Sensia; and Walton Goggins as Dr. Rubin, the man whose experimental treatment gives Ptolemy a temporary sense of clarity and a new (albeit brief) lease on life.
Jackson spoke about the long-gestating project during the 2022 Television Critics Association Winter Tour and, weeks later, during the show’s official press day, Mosley and members of the cast spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about the deep importance of the show’s subject matter, the use of memory as a storytelling tool, the unique love story that resides at the show’s core, and much more. Here are six things you should know about The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.