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John Singleton on Why He Never Wanted to ‘Do Violence Just for the Sake of Violence’ in His Films (Exclusive Video)

Watch highlights from the legendary filmmaker’s conversation with TheWrap at TheGrill 2017

Last Updated: April 29, 2019 @ 6:53 PM

John Singleton never wanted to make violent films “for the sake of violence,” he once said. He always wanted to make sure there was an “emotional attachment to the violence” in his films.

“One of the things I  did, I tried to — and think I’ve been pretty successful with — is not to have violence as a consequence of… people always say there is action violence, action for entertainment violence,” Singleton said at TheWrap’s TheGrill conference in 2017. “At film school, I said I’m not going to do violence just for the sake of violence — I would always make sure there is some sort of emotional attachment to the violence in my films.”

And he stood by it, until about five movies in, he joked. “Shaft” featured a scene where Samuel L. Jackson shot someone point-black in the head. But in other films, like one of his most famous movies, “Boyz N the Hood,” there was always “a reason” for violence.

At the media conference, Singleton also gave credit to himself and Quentin Tarantino for contributing to more “holistic” American films.

“What I love about the media landscape now in terms of film and television, it’s become more holistic — American film and American television and American media as a whole has become more American,” he explained. “It’s multi-plexi, it’s multi-ethnic — it’s not cool if you’re not multi-ethnic now. I hope I have contributed to that and I think certainly Quentin Tarantino contributed to that with the success of ‘Pulp Fiction.'”

Singleton died on Monday at the age of 51. Singleton suffered a stroke 13 days ago. He died after a decision was made to remove him from life support. A statement from his rep said the director “passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends.”

Singleton was the first ever African American and the youngest person to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, which he earned for his 1991 debut film “Boyz N the Hood.” Singleton’s stark and intimate portrait of life on the streets in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles helped make movie stars out of Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube and Angela Bassett. The story also netted Singleton an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His credits also include “Four Brothers” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

Watch the video above.