Samuel L Jackson and Salma Hayek are husband and wife in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. They tell Laura Harding about filming their passionate scenes and why Jackson never usually plays a romantic lead

SAMUEL L JACKSON does not kiss many women on screen. He has made well in excess of 100 films but reckons he has locked lips with no more than five leading ladies.

This is perhaps unsurprising. His most fruitful and famous collaboration - with director Quentin Tarantino - has not resulted in many love scenes. But he makes up for lost time in his new film The Hitman's Bodyguard, which sees him passionately smooch his on-screen wife Salma Hayek at great length.

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The movie, which sees Jackson cast as Darius Kincaid, the hitman of the title, and Ryan Reynolds as Michael, the bodyguard assigned to protect him, does not sound like a great love story at first.

But then we meet Hayek's Sonia, Darius's yoga-practising, foul-mouthed and incarcerated wife, who Darius is desperately trying to free from prison and we understand why it was actually the romance at the heart of it which was the film's first appeal for Jackson.

"That was totally part of the allure for me," he says. "There is a love story in there. And I'm giving relationship advice to a guy that I hate on this road trip and it's all about the words and the things we are talking about and what's happening and it's not just about killing and getting away, it's stuff, we connect through that and he learns something about me and I learn stuff about him." Gesturing to Hayek, he adds: "And our relationship is kind of the anchor of the movie."

Hayek agrees: "For me that is all there is. For me it's all about this love affair with my husband that continues to be a love affair and it's full of passion and I think that it's a different kind of romance. When somebody tells her in prison 'we are going to kill your husband' and she kind of looks at him and goes 'No you can't kill him, he's unkillable, it's not possible'. There is a lot of romance but funnily enough it's a romance girls are going to love and guys are going to love. It's a romance for everybody, sometimes guys are 'aargh' but they are going to love this relationship."

As a duo they complement each other perfectly, on screen and in person. Hayek, whose hair is a chocolate waterfall so shiny it reflects the light, is dressed in a black bomber jacket with red polka dots, while Jackson sports an all-white ensemble, with dark-framed round glasses but minus the trademark hat which fans are accustomed to seeing him don.

Before they settle down to be interviewed, they are gossiping about pilates instructors, with Jackson encouraging his pal to visit the London-based teacher who trained him and Margot Robbie for The Legend Of Tarzan. "He's here! He trained Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman. He had me and Margot on Tarzan, he's awesome," he tells her.

Jackson has spent so much time in the capital that he once even talked about living here, although he says that never materialised.

"I never actually did scout locations to live here. I did six out of eight films here in the last two years. I walk around all the time, people either got used to me or they don't notice me as much as they used to, which is fine. I have my earphones in and I walk around all the time. I'm always perusing streets I haven't been down and looking for shops that have things that are interesting."

Of all those films he made, none gave Jackson, who has been married to wife LaTanya Richardson since 1980, the chance to flex his romantic muscles on screen.

Looking at Hayek, he muses: "We had that conversation earlier today, when I told her she is one of maybe five women I have kissed in my cinematic history," he says. "It's all fresh to me because I don't do it that often, so it's always kind of an experiment."

Hollywood being what it is, Hayek, 50, is a very experienced on-screen smoocher, having locked lips with co-stars including Colin Farrell, Pierce Brosnan, Matthew Perry, Adam Sandler and Antonion Banderas, and gives Jackson the firm thumbs up.

"I feel bad, because he's such a good kisser. I feel bad for the best of the actresses that have been missing out. I feel bad but I feel honoured at the same time.

"In contrast I have kissed almost every actor I have ever worked with and I've done I don't know how many movies. Lately less, I'm surely I will be retiring from the kissing very soon, but I'm always the girl that gets kissed in the movies and I've got to tell you that Sam is up there as one of the best ones."

She tells him: "You are very romantic in life," adding: " I know his wife really well which is why I get to say these things. I wouldn't dare if I didn't!"

The on-screen snogging has even prompted Jackson, now 68, to contemplate a new era in his working life, which started in 1972 with a role in the film Together For Days.

"I'm going to start a whole new section of my career," he says. "Maybe I should do some rom coms. I would try it, I have got no fear of it."

  • The Hitman's Bodyguard is in UK cinemas now