Kurt Russell On Why He Wouldn’t Voice Solid Snake For Hideo Kojima in the ‘Metal Gear’ Series, his Aversion to Sequels, and the One Piece of ‘The Thing’ Wardrobe He Couldn't Stand: “I Said, 'I'm Not F**king Wearing That'”

Let’s compare LeBron James to Kurt Russell for a second. (We promise we’ll land this analogy, like an ultralight glider touching down on top of a skyscraper.) Whenever the King — now in his 21st NBA season at 39 years old, with no signs of losing his edge — plays a particularly great game, the refrain that goes around is that fans shouldn’t take him for granted. The same applies to Russell. The 72-year-old actor is just as locked in on any given episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters as he was in any of his beloved classic roles.

For further proof that we can never overvalue Kurt Russell, look no further than GQ’s very own Iconic Characters interview with the legendary actor. GQ asked Russell about the rumor that Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima wanted him to take over as the voice of MGS commando Solid Snake in the gaming series. Kojima is a die-hard film fan — if you need further proof, look at his Death Stranding series, which counts directors Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, Jordan Rogt-Roberts, and George Miller amongst its supporting cast — who’s acknowledged the namesake, eyepatch, and overall surly attitude of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York lead as a major influence on his game’s protagonist.

Russell’s answer is a perfect distillation of why he’s so beloved. Joking that he’s “pretty lazy by nature,” he went on to illuminate his creative process. “I don’t know—I’m a movie guy,” he shrugs. “You have to understand that from my point of view, whether it’s Elvis, or Snake Plissken, or Jack Burton, or R.J. MacReady, that was that project. That was that thing. You get into that mindset. You create that. You want to make that world happen.

“I used to do interviews when Elvis was coming out,” he continued, “and they would say, ‘C’mon, do a little Elvis for us.’ It doesn’t work that way—you don’t just slide in and out of Elvis. You go to work on it. You refine it, and then you do it, and you get paid for that.” Acting can sometimes be a bit of a black box, with outsiders having difficulty understanding the particular kind of alchemy that goes into creating a performance, so Russell’s frank insight helps to shine a light on the process and work that goes into acting and how he goes about building and maintaining his career.

Russell returned to the role of Plissken in another Carpenter project, 1996's powerfully-giffable Escape From L.A., but says he's generally uninterested in cranking out sequels to his various beloved projects.

“I come from a different era," he tells GQ. “I wasn’t interested in expanding financially off of something that we had created, or I had created in terms of a character. And I get business people, sure—‘We could do this with that’ or ‘We could do this with that.’ And I look at it and go, That’s not written by John [Carpenter]-- that doesn’t smell right. If John’s not here to do that…I’m not gonna do that. Let’s go do something new, let’s go do something fresh. Let’s go create another iconic character, rather than saying what can we bleed off this iconic character.”

Kurt Russell with frequent collaborator John Carpenter in 1996
Kurt Russell with frequent collaborator John Carpenter in 1996

Russell drops plenty of other gems throughout the interview, discussing everything from his Death Proof, Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood collaborator Quentin Tarantino (he's “had fun every time” they've worked together) to the ambiguous ending of another Carpenter/Russell classic, 1982's The Thing.

“John was never satisfied with that last scene," Russell said. "He didn’t want to do two hours, take the audience on a ride for two hours and bring them back to square one. The last scene, we talked about a lot, and we’d write out little different versions of it, What do you think of this, what do you think of that, and it would go back and forth. In the end, I said ‘John, look. I know you don’t want to go back to square one, but that’s kind of what it is. We don’t even know if we’re real. We don’t know. And I don’t think the audience can figure it out.’

“I think that’s what makes The Thing great,” Russell continued. "You don’t know. What if this already happened? Are you you? How would you know? And it all led…to him finally saying ‘Go ahead,’ and it was the last line, and I just said, ‘Let’s just sit down for a while and see what happens. If they could figure out a way to kill each other at exactly the same time, I think that was perhaps the next step there.”

The one aspect of The Thing that he and Carpenter never saw eye-to-eye on? MacReady's goofy-ass hat.

“I said to the wardrobe person, 'What's the deal with the sombrero?' And they said, 'Oh, that's your hat,'" Russell said. "I said, 'I'm not fucking wearing that hat! It's insane! What are you talking about?! No!'” Only after being told that Carpenter had already used the hat onscreen in some establishing shots did Russell make his peace with it, albeit grudgingly: “I never loved the sombrero,” he told GQ.

Originally Appeared on GQ