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‘I suggest ideas to Armani’: seven minutes with Samuel L Jackson

You’ve seen him in Shaft’s leather coat and Jules’ skinny suits, but this weekend Samuel L Jackson will be all dressed up to play himself – as a model, on the catwalk. Along with Luke Wilson and, tantalisingly, Alice Cooper, the peacocking is for a very good cause: One for the Boys, the charity Jackson chairs, which aims to encourage men to talk about cancer. On the eve of the show we had seven minutes on the phone to talk about personal style and straw fedoras.

Fashion is the way we get people to pay attention to us – and I want to use this event to get men to pay attention to their bodies and themselves. Women have tests and scans but guys don’t necessarily talk to doctors about aches and pains – they only don’t go to doctor if they get hurt. We want guys to be as aware of their bodies as women are.

It’s like guys are ashamed to be ill. Once I started working with this charity it was amazing how many people told me they had had a cancer related illnesses and hadn’t said anything.

My choice of clothes depends on where I’m going. If it’s a premiere I try to choose something appropriate to the theme of film. If it’s a serious film, I’ll wear a suit. If not, I’ll present myself as Samuel L Jackson who likes to have fun.

I had a good understanding of the clothes coming out next season at an early age. My mum worked for people who had a clothing store, and would come home with samples of clothes that would come out next year. I paid attention to fashion magazines, too, and by the time I was at college I was aware of all the major brands, although I couldn’t afford them.

When I worked in the theatre it didn’t necessarily matter if I didn’t specifically look sharp. I wore jeans with oversized tuxedo shirts over T-shirts. I created my own style.

The long leather coat I wore in Shaft is one of those iconic things people always ask me about. Occasionally I’ll wear it – I actually keep a lot of the clothes from things I do, from movies to photoshoots. I have a huge wardrobe over a couple of floors.

The first things I bought when I became successful were an Armani double-breasted blazer and a Hugo Boss trench coat. I developed a great relationship with Mr Armani, who knows my taste so well now that I can suggest ideas to them.

I own in the neighbourhood of two to 300 hats. I’ve had a collection for going on 20 years. [My favourites] are probably the bucket hats, because I play a lot of golf. They have become my signature – how people know it’s me on golf course. I’m also getting into straw fedoras.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned there are occasions when my comfort shouldn’t trump the event. Sometimes, I need to get over that and wearsomething that makes me feel as if I fit in as opposed to standing out.

A group selfie at last year’s inaugural One For The Boys Fashion Ball, featuring Samuel L Jackson, David Walliams, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Piven. Photograph: Mike Marsland/WireImage for One for the Boys

Follow @One4theBoys on Twitter for more information on the charity

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