Samuel L. Jackson Says Family's History of Alzheimer's Inspired Him to Make 'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey'

"Everyone deserves love and comfort no matter how old they are and no matter what battle they may be fighting," Samuel L. Jackson tells PEOPLE

Samuel L. Jackson has starred in Hollywood's biggest blockbusters from Star Wars to Avengers but his latest project holds a special place in his heart because of the personal connection he has to the subject matter.

Samuel and wife LaTanya Richardson Jackson are producing partners on the Apple TV+ limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, a drama starring Samuel as a man with dementia caused by Alzheimer's. The actor has first-hand experience with the disease because his grandfather and mother had Alzheimer's.

"It's such an insidious disease. It's a horror to watch. And we watched his mother go through it," says LaTanya.

Samuel L Jackson & LaTanya Richardson
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The movie star and Tony-nominated actress, who have been married for 41 years and are the proud parents of daughter Zoe, 39, sat down for an intimate interview to discuss their new show and life now in this week's issue of PEOPLE.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Samuel L. Jackson & LaTanya Richardson Jackson on or on the PeopleTV app.

Samuel says that because of his family's experience, "I was creatively interested in telling the story of someone with Alzheimer's that was able to make the choice to take a 'fantasy' drug that would give them their memories back, no matter the cost. It's chance that people don't have in real life and I thought it was a powerful vehicle to share Ptolemy's story."

He hopes the series, based on the Walter Mosley book of the same name, will bring more attention to the disease.

People Cover Samuel

"It shows that in spite of their disease, these people still have value and meaning, and they are people that still deserve to be cared for," he says. "It also shows that even though they can't communicate well with the outside world, their minds are still active and they are in a different mental space. Hopefully, people will see how important it is to still actively love and care for people with Alzheimer's."

More than six million people in the U.S. are living with the degenerative brain disease. To learn more about Alzheimer's, including 10 early warning signs, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is streaming on Apple TV+.

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