Pure Flix Entertainment opens Samson nationwide on February 16th, 2018. Please click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is so iconic about the story of Samson and Samson himself?
Taylor James: It's one of the most physically powerful stories within the bible for me. I also think that it's a beautiful arc of a story. He's a reluctant hero at the beginning of his journey. He's sort of impulsive and hot-headed and makes foolish, youthful and arrogant decisions. Then when he loves and loses his love, he's faced with a lot more difficult challenges. At the end of the film, being blinded and losing his strength, he ultimately sees clearest through the humility and the giving to God. That ultimately makes him stronger, so I believe that that's a very powerful story because it has both the physical and the emotional connotations.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like to get into character physically and emotionally?
TJ: I wanted to make sure that Samson wasn't just a hunk of meat on the screen. I think it's too easy for audiences to see a very physically strong man and to believe that it's possible him to do physically strong human feats. I was conscience of the power and strength coming from God, and I wanted to give the audience that surprise of a man being a slightly less in size than one would expect of Samson. That answers the question that he must get his strength from God. His people, throughout the story, are suffering from starvation. It wouldn't be fair if Samson looked over-healthy and eating 4 meals a day. So, I just made sure that I tapped into that physical training and mindset and diet related to being as lean as I possibly could. My many years of times in the gym helped for that, anyway. For the emotional side, I'd like to thank my mother. [laughs] For many years, I've worked with many fantastic actors and directors which has enabled me to always see a character and always see an emotion. I feel that within the story of Samson, I, as well as the audience, am blessed with seeing a plethora of emotion that he has to go through. It's fun to play falling in love. It's fun to play anger and jealousy. That's how we managed to break the 2D version of Samson that some people see that's just some human meathead on the screen.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is the purpose of struggle? Would you like to wake up one day and have nothing to struggle with?
TJ: I say I quote to myself every single day before I step into a cold shower: "If you're only doing in life what is easy, life will be hard, but if you do what's hard, life will be easy." In there, you master the smiles behind the efforts that go into a struggle. If it were so easy to play the piano, we'd all do it and wouldn't have the desire to sit and listen to someone who spent 10 years mastering the piano. Whatever emotion that you're going through with everything in life, the struggle for me is what makes it all worthwhile.
NYC MOVIE GURU: A perfect blend of Truth and Spectacle are what makes a truly great film according to Francois Truffaut. Do you agree with him? Do you think that Humanism can be both Truth and Spectacle?
TJ: I think that, at it's core, it really is. It's a beautiful thing. It's why some people, when they watch TV films, can happily watch someone making a cup of tea without anything said, and that simple level of humanism can be fascinating to watch because it's truthful. On the other side, someone throwing a man off a mountain and defeating the Philistines is also a spectacle. It's like your first question about the physical and emotional side. I feel that they both have their yin and yang of humanism and spectacle.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Samson goes through anger and rage. I think that there's an unfair stigma to anger because there are healthy forms of anger. What do you think?
TJ: If you're asking Taylor James, I'm going to support what you're saying and say, "Yes! I think you're 100% right." If someone can learn to channel anger. Jealousy is also an emotion. We shouldn't let our emotions control us; we should learn to use our emotions to help us get from A to B. If your life is continually angry, then that's a different thing. That's not what we want. I think that you can channel anger and rage into a more productive manner.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If were to meet Samson, what questions would you ask him? What would you talk to him about?
TJ: I would ask him a question that I would ask a new person going into business: "Do you think that the company of 100 employees that you have could survive without you? Or do you think that you run that company?" I would want to make sure that every single employee of his company feels the value of what they're doing. I feel that Samson is squandering an opportunity, at the beginning of the film, to be a leader. I would try to mentor him in that early stage to make the right decision and to make sure that the partner bestowed upon him is a blessing and that instead of going for the short-term adulation, he should go for the long-term adulation.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would it be fair to compare Samson to Marvel superheroes like Wolverine or Spider-Man? Those stories also incorporate love and rage.
TJ: I think that there, essentially, is only a certain amount of stories at the core. Samson is one of the most iconic stories of all-time, and that's why it's been redressed and reformatted through time, but at the heart of it, they've kept the same core. So, themes of love and rage that you're talking about will go on and on throughout other superhero films because of the originality of stories like Samson. I do believe that Samson is the first original superhero. That would be the link to all of the Marvel superheroes.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Why do you think that superhero movies are so popular today? Meryl Streep was once asked that question and said that maybe superhero movies are something that we just need. Why do we need superhero movies today, though?
TJ: From an emotional view, I think that there's a little bit of fantasy and escapism when our lives get a little difficult in which there's something heightened that we can have either protect us or allow us to become that person. "What would your superpower be?" is a very popular question. I'm sure many people get asked that question---even probably Meryl Streep! I think that there's something fantastical about suspending your disbelief and escaping into the moment of that world, so to go to watch a film that you can fully get into that world for a couple of hours is very addictive. On the other side, it comes down to the word "inspirational." I believe that we put our superheros on platforms like the demigods, Samson and all the people that have come through the past. So, I believe that it's a combination of inspiration and escapism.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would Samson work in 3D?
TJ: Some of the 3D projects that I've been witness to have been absolutely fantastic. I don't think that this film really needs to have 3D. That's my personal opinion. If there are some screens out there that are doing it in 3D, I would be very intrigued to go watch it. It'd be a nice excuse to watch it more than once. I feel that Samson is such a story of emotions, characters with passion, drama and love that it doesn't really need to be in 3D.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that something would be lost by watching Samson on the small screen?
TJ: I think film is intended for the big screen. If it's simply 51% vs. 49%, I would lean to a very small percentage. I saw it on the small screen and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music is stunning. It has the most tiny little musical strings in the background that you don't even notice. Even on the small screen, you can still enjoy it. I haven't seen it on the big screen, yet, but I am so excited to see it there when it opens.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What would be a great double feature with Samson?
TJ: I'm going to cast that to a couple of people who are older than me: some of my peers who I well respect withing the London theatrical circle. They have said that it has that Cleopatra and Ben-Hur and Spartacus. Because we're setting it in its original time, you fall into that world straight away. It's so grand and heightened and opulent in some aspects, but, on the other hand, it's so dusty, real, tangible and believable. I think that it's an epic film and, therefore, needs an epic partner. So, I have to say that Cleopatra, Ben-Hur, Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia are wonderful classics films that would be great double features with Samson.