Samuel L. Jackson

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Samuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor. Jackson came to fame in the early 1990s, after a series of well-reviewed performances, and has since become a major film star and cultural icon, having appeared in a large number of high-grossing films. He is currently working on nine films that will debut between 2007 and 2008. His most recent film, the drama Home of the Brave, was released in December of 2006. His next film, the comedy mockumentary Farce of the Penguins, will be released in January 2007.

Jackson's films have grossed between $2.1 billion (as either lead actor or co-lead actor)[1] and $3.8 billion, (films that feature Jackson as either lead or supporting)[2][3] placing him as either the 7th highest-grossing actor (as strictly lead) or the highest-grossing actor (counting supporting roles) of all time.

Jackson has noted that he chooses roles that are "exciting to watch" and have an "interesting character inside of a story", and that in his roles he wants to "do things [he hasn't] done, things [he] saw as a kid and wanted to do and now have an opportunity to do".[4]


Early life

Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. He grew up as an only child in the factory town of Chattanooga, Tennessee with his mother, Elizabeth Jackson (a factory worker and later a supply buyer for a mental institution), and his maternal grandparents and extended family. His father lived away from the family in Kansas City, Missouri and later died from alcoholism.[5] Jackson attended Riverside High (Now Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences), a segregated school where, between the third and twelfth grades, he played the French horn and trumpet in the school orchestra.[6] He later attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he co-founded the "Just Us Theater".[7]

Civil Rights Movement involvement

After the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackson attended the funeral in Atlanta as one of the ushers.[8] Jackson then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest march. In a recent Parade interview Jackson revealed: "I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn’t shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different—not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence."[9] In 1969, Jackson and several other students held members of the Morehouse College board of trustees (including a nearby Martin Luther King, Sr.) hostage on the campus, demanding reform in the school’s curriculum and governance.[10] The college eventually agreed to change its ways, but Jackson was expelled for his actions for two years (even though he would later return to the college to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Drama in 1972).[11] Jackson decided to remain in Atlanta, where he met with Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and others active in the Black Power movement.[9] Jackson revealed in the same Parade interview that he began to feel empowered with his involvement in the movement, especially when the group began buying guns.[9] However, before Jackson could become involved with any significant armed struggle, his mother sent him to Los Angeles after the F.B.I. told her that he would die within a year if he remained with the Black Power movement.[9]

Acting career

1970s - 1980s

Jackson initially decided to go to Morehouse College to major in Architecture, but decided to change his major to Drama[12] after taking a public speaking class and appearing in a version of The Threepenny Opera.[13] Jackson began acting in multiple plays including Home and A Soldier's Story. He also landed himself in several TV films, and his first feature film was in Together for Days (1972). After these initial roles, Jackson proceeded to move from Atlanta to New York City in 1976 and spent the next decade appearing in stage plays such as The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running with the Negro Ensemble Company and the New York Shakespeare Company.[14] At this point in his early career, Jackson developed an alcohol and cocaine addiction, resulting in him being unable to proceed with the two plays as they continued to Broadway (actors Charles S. Dutton and Laurence Fishburne took his place).[11] Throughout his early film career, mainly in minimal roles in films and TV films, Jackson was mentored by Morgan Freeman.[6] After a 1981 performance in the play A Soldier's Play, Jackson was introduced to beginning director Spike Lee[11] who would later include him in small roles for the films School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989).


After completing these films, Jackson's cocaine addiction continued to increase to the point where he overdosed, and his family entered him into a New York rehab clinic.[6] When he successfully completed rehab, Jackson acted in Jungle Fever, ironically as the cocaine addict brother to the relatively new actor Wesley Snipes. The film was so acclaimed that the 1991 Cannes Film Festival awarded a special "Supporting Actor" award just for him.[15] After this role, Jackson became involved with multiple film requests, including Strictly Business, Juice, Patriot Games, and then moving on to two comedies: National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 and Amos & Andrew. After these rapid films involvement, Jackson worked with director Steven Spielberg in Jurassic Park and up-and-coming director Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction. The film was perhaps Jackson's most notable role, mainly for his monologues and one-liners along with co-star John Travolta. The film earned Jackson an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor award win.[16]

With a succession of unsuccessful films such as Kiss of Death, The Great White Hype, and Losing Isaiah, Jackson began to receive poor reviews from critics who were just praising him before with Pulp Fiction. This ended with his involvement in the two successful box office films A Time To Kill, where he depicted a father who is put on trial for killing two men who raped his daughter, and Die Hard with a Vengeance, co-starring along side Bruce Willis in the second sequel in the Die Hard series. For A Time to Kill, Jackson earned a NAACP Image for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.[17]

Quickly becoming a box office star, Jackson continued with three starring roles in 1997. In 187 he played a teacher, dedicated to educating students in a Los Angeles high school. He received an Independent Spirit award for Best First Feature[17] alongside first-time writer/director Kasi Lemmons in the drama film Eve's Bayou, for which he also served as executive producer. He joined up again with director Quentin Tarantino and received a Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Actor for his portrayal as an arms merchant in Jackie Brown.[17] In 1998, he worked with other established actors such as Sharon Stone and Dustin Hoffman in Sphere and Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator, playing a hostage negotiator who resorts to taking hostages himself when he is falsely accused of murder and embezzlement. In 1999, Jackson starred in a shark horror film, Deep Blue Sea, and more significantly as Jedi Council Member Mace Windu in George Lucas's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. In an interview, Jackson claimed that he was unable to read the script for the film and did not learn he was playing the character Mace Windu until he was fitted for his costume.[18]


On June 13, 2000, Jackson was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which can be found at 7018 Hollywood Blvd.[19] He began his next decade in his film career as a Marine colonel put on trial in Rules of Engagement and the Shaft 2000 remake of the 1971 film Shaft. Jackson's sole film in 2001 was The Caveman's Valentine, where he plays a homeless musician in a murder thriller. The film was directed by Kasi Lemmons, who previously worked with Jackson in Eve's Bayou. In 2002, he played a recovering alcoholic attempting to keep custody of his kids while dealing with a mishap with Ben Affleck's character in Changing Lanes. He returned for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, increasing his role from a small role to a supporting role. Mace Windu's purple lightsaber in the film was the result of Jackson's suggestion; he wanted to be sure that his character would stand out in a crowded battle scene.[20] Jackson then acted as a NSA agent alongside Vin Diesel in xXx and a drug dealer wearing a kilt in The 51st State. In 2003, Jackson portrayed another character in a military role, working with John Travolta again in Basic and then as a police lieutenant alongside Colin Farrell in the television show remake S.W.A.T. In 2004, Jackson played a mentor to Ashley Judd in the thriller Twisted, and lent his voice to the computer-animated film The Incredibles as the superhero Frozone. Jackson once again starred in a Tarantino film, by cameoing in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

In 2005, he began with the sports drama, Coach Carter, where he played a coach (based on the actual coach Ken Carter) dedicated to teaching his players that education is more important than basketball. Jackson also returned for two sequels: XXX: State of the Union, this time commanding Ice Cube, and the final prequel George Lucas installment, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. His last film for 2005 was The Man alongside comedian Eugene Levy.

On January 30, 2006, Jackson was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theater; he is the seventh African American and 191st actor to be recognized in this manner.[21] He next starred opposite of actress Julianne Moore in the box office bomb Freedomland, where he depicted a police detective attempting to help a mother find her abducted child, while quelling a city racial riot. Jackson's second film of the year, Snakes on a Plane, gained cult interest months before the film was released based on its title and cast. Jackson's decision to star in the film was solely based on the title.[22] To build anticipation for the film, he also cameoed in the 2006 music video Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) by Cobra Starship. On December 2, Jackson won the German Bambi Award for International Film, based on his many film contributions.[23] On December 15, 2006, Jackson starred in Home of the Brave, as a doctor returning home from the Iraq War, resorting to alcohol to cope with his feelings after the war.

Upcoming films

Jackson has eight upcoming film projects between 2007-2008 starting with the direct-to-DVD Farce of the Penguins, a spoof of the box office success March of the Penguins (which was narrated by Morgan Freeman). His first film released in theaters for 2007 will be Black Snake Moan, where he will portray a blues player who kidnaps and imprisons a young woman addicted to sex. He will continue with the psychological thriller 1408, another science fiction film, 2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey, and the boxing film Resurrecting the Champ. Jackson will work alongside Bruce Willis for the fifth time in his career (Loaded Weapon 1, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Unbreakable) in Black Water Transit. He currently has two 2008 films where he will first rejoin Hayden Christiansen (from their appearance together in the Star Wars trilogy) in the science fiction Jumper followed by The Cleaner, about an obsessive crime scene cleaner who uncovers a murder linked to his family's past. In January 2007, Jackson signed on to the film Lakeview Terrace which currently has no set release date.

Other work

Jackson gave his consent for Marvel Comics to design their "Ultimate" version of the character Nick Fury after his likeness.[24] He has also stated interest in playing the character in a live-action film. Jackson has also had a song named after him, entitled Sammy L. Jackson by Hot Action Cop.[25] The song was featured on the soundtrack for the 2003 film S.W.A.T, in which Jackson appeared.

Jackson has been parodied multiple times in various television shows and films. He was parodied twice on Chappelle's Show where he was played by comedian Dave Chappelle in sketches involving Mace Windu and a fake commercial peddling "Samuel Jackson" beer (a parody of Samuel Adams). He has also been spoofed in the film Team America: World Police, where he was portrayed as a villainous member of the Film Actors Guild, and the upcoming 2007 film Epic Movie, poking fun at his role in Snakes on a Plane. Jackson was mentioned on the animated television show Family Guy in the episode Brian Does Hollywood, when one of the characters declared that "Samuel L. Jackson is in everything" (pointing to Jackson's extensive filmography) at which point one of the show's characters is shown directing Jackson in a pornographic movie.

Jackson also guest-starred as himself in an episode of the BBC/HBO sitcom Extras, voiced the main antagonist, Officer Frank Tenpenny, of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the lead role in an upcoming anime series, Afro Samurai, and has a recurring part as the voice of "Gin Rummy" in several episodes of the animated series The Boondocks. In one episode, he paid tribute to his Pulp Fiction character, Jules Winnfield, by reenacting the "What?" scene from the film.

Jackson also provided the voice of God for a New Testament audio book version of the Bible entitled The Bible Experience, which was released in November 2006. He was given the lead role because producers felt his deep, authoritative voice was perfect for the role.[26]

Personal life

Jackson married actress Latanya Richardson in 1980, whom he met while attending Morehouse College.[10] The couple, who live in Los Angeles, California, have a daughter, Zoe, born in 1982, who is in culinary school.

Jackson is an avid basketball fan, and especially enjoys the Harlem Globetrotters and the Toronto Raptors.[27] He also became an avid Liverpool F.C. fan after filming the movie 'The 51st State in Liverpool, England.[28] Jackson enjoys playing golf, a game he has been reported to have become very proficient at. He has stated that if he had to choose any other career, he would be "on the PGA [tour] playing golf"[13] and that it is the only place where he "can go dressed as a pimp and fit in perfectly".[6]

Jackson has revealed in an interview that he sees every one of his movies in theaters with paying customers claiming that "Even during my theater years, I wished I could watch the plays I was in--while I was in them! I dig watching myself work."[29] He also enjoys collecting the action figures of the characters he portrays in his films including Jules Winnfield, Shaft, Mace Windu, and Frozone.[30]

Jackson is bald in real life, but enjoys wearing unusual wigs in his films.[31] He is a comic book and anime fan[32] and can be seen reading a copy of the comic book 100 Bullets in the music video for Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) by Cobra Starship.

Selected filmography


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Together for Days Stan
1988 Coming to America Hold-Up Man minor role
School Daze Leeds A Spike Lee joint
1989 Do the Right Thing DJ Mister Senor Love Daddy A Spike Lee joint
Sea of Love Black Guy minor role
1990 Goodfellas Stacks Edwards
Mo' Better Blues Madlock A Spike Lee joint
Def by Temptation Minister Garth A Troma film
1991 Strictly Business Monroe
Jungle Fever Gator Purify A Spike Lee joint
1992 Juice Trip
Patriot Games LCDR Robby Jackson
1993 Menace II Society Tat Lawson
Loaded Weapon 1 Sgt. Wes Luger
Amos & Andrew Andrew Sterling
Jurassic Park John Raymond Arnold
1994 Fresh Sam
Pulp Fiction Jules Winnfield
1995 Kiss of Death Calvin Hart
Die Hard with a Vengeance Zeus Carver
1996 The Great White Hype Rev. Fred Sultan
A Time to Kill Carl Lee Hailey
The Long Kiss Goodnight Mitch Henessey
1997 187 Trevor Garfield
Eve's Bayou Louis Batiste also producer
Jackie Brown Ordell Robbie
1998 Sphere Dr. Harry Adams
The Negotiator Lt. Danny Roman
The Red Violin Charles Morritz (Montréal)
1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Mace Windu
Deep Blue Sea Russell Franklin
2000 Rules of Engagement Col. Terry L. Childers
Shaft John Shaft
Unbreakable Elijah Price
2001 The Caveman's Valentine Romulus Ledbetter also executive producer
2002 Changing Lanes Doyle Gipson
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Mace Windu
xXx Agent Augustus Gibbons
The 51st State (Formula 51) Elmo McElroy also executive producer
2003 Basic West
S.W.A.T. Sgt. Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson
No Good Deed Jack Friar
2004 Twisted John Mills
Kill Bill Vol.2 Rufus
The Incredibles Lucius Best/Frozone voice only
In My Country Langston Whitfield
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Officer Frank Tenpenny
2005 Coach Carter Coach Ken Carter
XXX: State of the Union Agent Augustus Gibbons
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Mace Windu
The Man Derrick Vann
2006 Freedomland Lorenzo Council
Snakes on a Plane Neville Flynn
Home of the Brave Will Marsh
2007 Farce of the Penguins Narrator voice only; January 30 direct-to-DVD release
Black Snake Moan Lazarus completed; scheduled for February 16
1408 Mr. Olin post-production; scheduled for May 18
2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey Fear voice only; release TBA
Resurrecting the Champ Champ post-production; release TBA
Black Water Transit Jack pre-production; release TBA[1] [2] [3] [4]
2008 Jumper Agent Cox filming; scheduled for February 15
The Cleaner Tom pre-production; release TBA[5] [6] [7] [8]
Unknown Lakeview Terrace --- pre-production[9][10]

Television Work

Year(s) Title Role Notes
1991 Law & Order Louis Taggert episode "The Violence of Summer"
1992 Ghostwriter Reggie Jenkins
1995 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child -- (voice)
2001 The Proud Family Joseph voice for single episode
2005-2006 The Boondocks Gin Rummy voice for two episodes
2005 Extras Himself star of a new English Cop TV Show
2007 Afro Samurai Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja voice only; executive producer


  1. Box Office Mojo. PEOPLE INDEX. Retrieved on October 23, 2006.
  2. The Movie Times. Top Actor By Total Box Office Gross of all Movies. Retrieved on October 23, 2006.
  3. The Numbers. All Time Top 100 Stars at the Box Office. Retrieved on October 23, 2006.
  4. Sun2Surf. Samuel L. Jackson shares some of his thoughts on acting, his new movie and his biggest phobia. Retrieved on August 25, 2006.
  5. NNDB. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named tiscali.film_.26_tv
  7. Film Reference. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  8. Tavis Smiley. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on August 20, 2006.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 He Found His Voice (Film actor Samuel L. Jackson). Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Thespian Net. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on November 30.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Yahoo Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 1, 2006.
  12. Star Bios: Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Samuel L. Jackson: Samurai and snakes. Retrieved on August 21, 2006.
  14. Biographies: Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  15. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  16. Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  18. SAMUEL L. JACKSON talks SNAKES ON A PLANE. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  19. The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Locations of Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  20. World Entertainment News Network. Jackson Demands Purple Shaft. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  21. Carson Scholars Fund. Honorary National Board-Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  22. Slithering Up Anticipation. Retrieved on March 27, 2006.
  23. ITV News. Bambi honour for Jackson. Retrieved on December 3, 2006.
  24. Samuel L. Jackson. Copyright Kamal Larsuel , 2005. Retrieved on August 20, 2006.
  25. Hot Action Cop. Hot Action Cop in TV, Movies and Video Games. Retrieved on August 20, 2006.
  26. ContactMusic. JACKSON VOICES GOD. Retrieved on August 20, 2006.
  27. The Windsor Star. Raptors provide Jackson's action. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  28. Celebrity Evertonians. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  29. His Own Best Fan. Retrieved on December 4, 2006.
  30. Celebrity Spotlight: Samuel L. Jackson. Retrieved on December 4, 2006.
  31. Bald R Us. Men Hall of Fame. Retrieved on November 30, 2006.
  32. Samuel L. Jackson talks Snakes On A Plane. Retrieved on October 20, 2006.

External links