Samuel L. Jackson's craziest movie stunt involved jumping into freezing cold water repeatedly in -37 degrees

In his many interviews over the years, Samuel L. Jackson has often been asked which of his movies is his personal favorite. Rather than an installment from one of his iconic franchises like the Star Wars prequels or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jackson usually lists 1996's The Long Kiss Goodnight. But when the actor appeared on The Jennifer Hudson Show on Monday, he said the film also involved his craziest (and seemingly most painful) stunt ever.

At one point in The Long Kiss Goodnight, Jackson's character Mitch Hennessey and Geena Davis' amnesiac spy Charly escape from pursuers by jumping out a window and firing a machine gun at the ice below so the water can cushion their fall. Jackson told host Jennifer Hudson that filming the scene required the actors to actually be submerged in freezing cold water... again and again.

THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, 1996, (c)New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection
THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, 1996, (c)New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection

New Line Cinema/Everett Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson in 1996's 'The Long Kiss Goodnight'

"It was -37 degrees that day," Jackson recalled. "They cut a hole in the ice and they put a hot tub in it to make sure we didn't float away, because there was a current in the lake. They had to break the ice because it would freeze over between shots, and we would get in. They told us to count to five, and we would come up. Then we'd crawl across the ice, and they'd put us in a hot tub while they looked at the replay."

Unfortunately, the initial replay wasn't good enough for director Renny Harlin, who was married to Davis at the time. So, as if that subzero swimming wasn't hard enough, Jackson and Davis had to perform the stunt repeatedly.

"We did it five times," Jackson said. "I have never felt anything like that in my life. You know that headache you get when you drink milk too fast? Multiply that by 20. Oh, Lord! My brain was like, 'What are we doing?!'"

Davis also happened to talk about the stunt recently, during an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden last October. She said the actors only did it three times, but given the excruciating pain of that freezing water, it's understandable that she and Jackson have slightly different memories of the moment.

"It was like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer," Davis said of the experience. "I couldn't see or think or hear."

For those interested in seeing the results of Jackson and Davis' dedicated stunting, The Long Kiss Goodnight is currently streaming on HBO Max. Watch their interviews above.

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