Samuel L Jackson has signed on to reprise his role as NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons alongside Vin Diesel in the upcoming third film of the xXx franchise, titled XXX: The Return of Xander Cage. Diesel, who portrayed Xander Cage in the original 2002 film, announced Jackson's return on his Facebook page.
"Excited to work with Sam again... his portrayal of Gibbons was so good... timeless. Welcome to the Xander Zone!," he captioned the pic.
Directed by D.J. Caruso, xXx 3 will also mark UFC Featherweight Champion Mark McGregor's acting debut. Sources says the details on his role are yet to be finalized.
Jackson starred in both XXX and 2005's XXX: State of the Union sequel, which Diesel did not return for. State of the Union was directed by Lee Tamahori and starred Ice Cube in the lead role as the new xXx. Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen, director of the original, had signed up before xXx was released, but both dropped out as Diesel was committed to work on The Pacifier while Cohen was busy making Stealth.
.@SamuelLJackson is set to star with Vin Diesel in "xXx" sequel. https://t.co/zkLJyZuiTs pic.twitter.com/LgoejzpdbYIn the original xXx, Vin played a rebellious thrill seeking extreme sports enthusiast-turned-reluctant spy for the National Security Agency who is sent on a dangerous mission to infiltrate a group of Russian terrorists in Central Europe. The film was made on a budget $70 million and earned $277.4 million at the global box office.
— HYPEBEAST (@HYPEBEAST) December 17, 2015
The follow-up film was panned by critics for the overuse of CGI as opposed to live-action stunts, a poor performance by Ice Cube, and an illogical story. The film was also a financial disaster, produced on a $113.1 million budget and earning a measly $71 million at the box office.
Two different scripts were drafted for the sequel, with the one written by Simon Kinberg selected for production, while the other script is suspected of being the basis for the forthcoming third installment.
Samuel L. Jackson will return for xXx 3 with Vin Diesel: https://t.co/myAjiM538f pic.twitter.com/X3njoP0gzbAs Digital Trends reports, Diesel gave fans a sneak-peak at the concept art for the upcoming xXx 3 – peep it here. The video was accompanied with the caption, "Sharing some concept art before heading to my meeting. So excited to start filming xXx, it's been a while since we've entered the Xander Zone..."
— IMDb (@IMDb) December 17, 2015
Meanwhile, Samuel and Quentin Tarantino are ready to continue their dynamic partnership with The Hateful Eight, a racially charged western that serves as their seventh film together. Their partnership began with Tarantino's 1994 cult favorite Pulp Fiction, which was written and directed by Quentin. One film, True Romance (1993), was written by Tarantino but directed by Tony Scott, with Jackson in a minor support role as Big Don, as the Toronto Sun notes.
In The Hateful Eight, Jackson plays violent bounty hunter Marquis Warren, a former Union Army major during the U.S. Civil War. He uses a personal letter from the late president, Abraham Lincoln, to gain respect among white men who despise black people.
QT & Sam Jackson dans Variety. https://t.co/D6kNUAtw5HTarantino and Jackson have spoken about their longtime collaborations, which are often heavy with the use of the N-word. "It all comes out very genuinely," Jackson says of how he and Tarantino debate race and storytelling.
— f l o r e n t (@facts_and_lies) December 15, 2015
"In the real world, that's a very real thing right now!" Jackson says of being a black man in America. "We have to be these 'very nice kind of Negroes' so we feel safe walking around. Because, if you present yourself as any other thing, then people call people on you."
You can catch Samuel L. Jackson and his Hateful Eight co-stars when the film hits theaters December 25. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is currently in pre-production and has yet to set a release date.
[Images courtesy Frank Micelotta/Getty Images/Twitter]