Samuel L. Jackson’s new series is one that he’s been trying to bring to the small screen for a decade.
It’s one thing when family and friends have forgotten you due to debilitating health, but a whole different story when you begin to lose yourself in the process.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey isn’t your average story about the toll that dementia can take on a person, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. It offers a glimmer of hope, not only to the people who have suffered from memory loss that doctors have yet to find a cure for, but for those loved ones that endure a similar pain that comes with watching someone they love slowly fade away in the process.
Samuel L. Jackson, who embodies Ptolemy Grey, tells Shadow and Act that after sitting with this character for nearly a decade, the journey to becoming the man who has been forgotten by everyone he loves, even himself, has been quite the journey.
He admits that this particular project is bigger than him, it shares the story that has affected so many families, including his own.
The actor told us, “It’s been 10 years so there were disappointments and there were also high points where I thought it was going to happen, and then it didn’t and just realizing I had to keep pressing through all these other things and knowing that I was trying to tell a particular story to fulfill a dream of putting out there the story of people that are like my mom, my brother, my grandfather, my sister, or people who were affected by this disease and what that effect has on [the] people around you, and not leaving them isolated and alone. Or, you know, tossed to the side.”
“There’s a ton of value in these people and the information that is locked inside of them and how we try to access it,” said Jackson.
In Ptolemy’s case, it’s a family member who isn’t necessarily blood that encourages him to show up more in the world around him in turn, helping him to come out of years of isolation during a turn of events when he loses the one family member who refuses to let me miss a doctor’s appointment or trip to the bank.
Robyn, an orphaned teen (played by Dominique Fishback) placed in the care of Ptolemy becomes his chosen family and as fate would have it begins to play a vital role in his life despite the setbacks caused by the memory loss.
“We all have that kind of aspect, in terms of who we are or the people that are a part of our families that [make] people go, ‘well, is that person really related to you,” Jackson explained that getting Hollywood behind a concept that is the norm within Black families was one of the most challenging aspects of bringing the story adapted from renowned American writer, Walter Mosley.
“They’re bonded to me in a real kind of way that has nothing to do with blood or genetics,” the 73-year-old actor shared.
“It’s just the fact that I love that person and that person is a valuable person to me and that was always a part of the issues when I was trying to get the story done,” Jackson recounted. “People would go, ‘we need to make Robyn a real relative’ and I’m like ‘no, she doesn’t need to be a real relative, Black people will know who she is when they watch it.’ You know, because we all call somebody or you are uncle to somebody that you’re not really related to.”
Watch the riveting story of a man as he learns to reconnect with himself and others around him in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey starting Friday, March 11.
The first two episodes will be available with one new episode every Friday on Apple TV+.
Watch our full interview with Jackson, Fishback and Cynthia Kaye McWilliams below: