Jackson Takes it to the Hoop
January 14, 2005

Samuel L. Jackson is calling the shots on and off the basketball court in his new film, "Coach Carter," and "Extraís" Tanika Ray hit the filmís red carpet premiere in Hollywood Thursday night, where she went one on one with Sam, co-star Ashanti and the real coach Carter himself.

The movie is based on the controversial real life high school coach Ken Carter who famously forced his players to put schoolbooks before basketball. He even benched his undefeated team because of bad grades.

So just how close is Mr. Jackson to the real Coach Carter? "Miles!" Jackson told us. "I got a lot more money than he got."

But the real Ken told us that he and Samuel really arenít all that different: "We both run a tight ship and weíre extremely serious about how we go about things."

Since filming, Jackson and Carter have become fast friends, even attending a Lakers game together. "Ken is a man with standards and principles," Jackson said. "He doesnít compromise."

And when Tanika sat down with Carter, she discovered that there was a very short list on his choice for the man who would play him. "Yes maíam, I wrote down one name, Mr. Samuel Jackson," Ken revealed.

But a modest Samuel insisted, "Oh thatís what they all say. They always say that to the guy who gets the job."

The film also features beautiful R&B superstar Ashanti in her very first movie role. Ashanti plays the pregnant girlfriend of a high school hoops star played by Rob Brown, of "Finding Forrester" fame.

"So many teenagers nowadays deal sometimes with even harder problems than some adults," Ashanti said of her character. "And [Brown] was just cool. He made me feel really comfortable and easy to work with, as you saw, some of the scenes were a little bit steamy."

But Ashanti certainly had a good role model on the set -- Jackson revealed that he actually coached his young co-stars between takes: "It was my job to be in place, on time, know the lines and show them it's possible to have a really good time making a movie, but youíve got to be serious while doing it."

"Coach Carter" is in theaters now.


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