I watched “True Romance” the other day for the first time. Great movie. While I was watching, I noticed Samuel L. Jackson had a small role.
I sarcastically thought that he must be in almost every Hollywood production. OK, he’s not. Not even close.
But, IMDB.com gives him credit for 157 roles (12 of which are upcoming). 157 roles. He’s one hard-working actor.
He’s currently the highest grossing actor of all time. Movies he has been in have grossed over $9 billion worldwide.
So, I decided to select his 5 best roles.
5) Lazarus Redd, “Black Snake Moan” (2006)
No, it’s the not the “Snakes On A Plane” sequel. However, this was a favorite from several people on Facebook. I see why. Jackson plays a blues singer who is trying to help out a young woman played by Christina Ricci. He shines as Lazarus because he’s an awesome actor and because he shows off his vocal abilities. “Black Snake Moan” didn’t do well at the box office, only earning about $11 million, but the movie showcases Jackson’s versatility. He’s even featured on the movie’s soundtrack.
4) Stephen, “Django Unchained” (2012)
The best way to describe Stephen is Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) loyal slave. Stephen always seems to have his master’s best interests at heart, which is ironic given his owner’s terrible treatment of his other slaves. As usual, Jackson nailed the role.
Both the film and Jackson’s role were heavily criticized as the movie was set to debut. Nonetheless, “Django Unchained”went on to earn over $400 million.
3) Danny Roman, “The Negotiator” (1998)
Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey in the same movie is a winning combination. It was for “The Negotiator”. Jackson’s Roman plays a top negotiator with the Chicago PD set up to take the fall in a corrupt scheme. Instead, he turns the tables on the corrupt and takes them hostage and (spoiler alert) ends up the hero along with Spacey’s Lt. Chris Sabian.
Roger Ebert gave “The Negotiator” 3.5 out of 4 stars, writing, “Much of the movie simply consists of closeups of the two of them talking, but it’s not simply dialogue because the actors make it more–invest it with conviction and urgency.” Jackson holds his own with Spacey and Spacey may very well be the best actor out there right now.
2) Elijah Price, “Unbreakable”(2000)
M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” features Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price. Price suffers from a rare condition that makes his bones brittle. In the movie he searches for his opposite, an unbreakable man. It turns out to be Bruce Willis. The spoiler alert here is that Jackson’s Price created the scenarios for Willis’ David Dunn to become almost like a superhero. In the process hundreds get killed and the audience who routed for Price turns against him. Jackson nails this role.
Ebert said of Jackson, he, “is not afraid to play a man it is hard to like — a bitter man, whose intelligence only adds irony to anger.” Truly a great performance.
1) Jules Winnfield, “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Writer/director Quentin Tarantino wrote the role of Winnfield specifically for Jackson and Jackson doesn’t disappoint. In the course of this classic movie, Winnfield is the only character to undergo a significant change. After a shootout he walks away unscathed. Winnfield has an epiphany and walks away from the gangster business.
Jackson’s Winnfield is quotable, fun, and bad (in the slang sense of the word).
The scene where he quotes Ezekeil 25:17 is one of cinema’s best. One I had memorized as a junior in high school. Yeah, I was cool. “The path of the righteous man…”
Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for best actor in a supporting role for playing Jules Winnfield. So far, it’s his only nomination. Maybe one day they’ll create an award and name is after him.
Honorable Mention: Carl Lee Hailey, “A Time To Kill”.
Best potential to replace something on this list: Samuel L. Jackson as Marvel’s Nick Fury.
Jackson has played Fury in several movies already. Jackson will star in a stand-alone Nick Fury movie in 2016.