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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Samuel L. Jackson

06.22.2015
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Last week, we took at look at the career of the late, great Christopher Lee. This week’s guy seems to be dedicated to giving Lee a run for his money as far as credits/iconic status goes...
Samuel L. Jackson

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to Sam the Man. Certainly, if anyone out there deserves to be called a badass, it’s Samuel L. Jackson. One of the absolute coolest “muthafu**as” out there, Jackson’s been kicking around for a long time. Active since the early seventies, in the twenty years of his career leading up to PULP FICTION, Jackson’s parts ran the gamut from being bit player walk-ons in studio films EDDIE MURPHY: RAW & COMING TO AMERICA or SEA OF LOVE (where the IMDB has him billed as “black guy”) to juicier character parts in movies like JUNGLE FEVER & FRESH. Around the early nineties, Jackson’s career as a solid supporting player began to pick up steam, with him appearing in decent (if minor) parts in things like PATRIOT GAMES & JURASSIC PARK (“hold on to your butts”). Of course, PULP FICTION turned that all around – big time. Not only did the part cop him a best actor Oscar nom, but it turned him into a full-fledged star. Within a year he was co-headlining DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE opposite Bruce Willis, playing star parts in movies like A TIME TO KILL and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, and even leading the occasional film, like THE NEGOTIATOR, EVE’S BAYOU, THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE (underrated), FORMULA 51, etc.

Being a guy who seems to enjoy working (with him chalking up an impressive 161 IMDB credits) Jackson doesn’t always appear in great movies. In fact, some of them (KITE, THE SPIRIT) are quite bad, but Jackson’s never anything less than watchable. When given the right opportunity Jackson’s capable of being absolutely brilliant. It’s unfortunate that many of his best performances have come in movies that are fairly obscure (MOTHER & CHILD, UNTHINKABLE) but hey – the guy played both Nick Fury and SHAFT! No matter what happens, Jackson will always be a pop culture icon, but while we all put him up on a pedestal as an icon of cool, it shouldn’t be forgotten that more than anything he’s an absolutely excellent actor, and capable of much more than the “cool guy” parts mainstream Hollywood seems to typecast him in sometimes. That said, if you’re going to be typecast as anything, always playing the coolest guy in the film isn’t a bad thing to be stuck doing.

His Best Role

This is a no-brainer. While I’m sure younger genre fans out there will see him as Nick Fury (in which he’s cast to perfection) Jackson’s defining part will always be Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION. While yes, he’s playing the “cool” guy, Jules is actually a nuanced, three-dimensional guy. While he’s shown to be a cold-blooded professional killer it’s worth noting that Jules’ spiritual side is far from a put on. After bullets seem to “magically” go through him, Jules is genuine in his decision to give up his violent work, leading to the incredible sequence the film closes on where Jules, after foiling a robbery, spares Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny’s (Amanda Plummer) lives – no wanting to unnecessarily take another life. While undoubtedly a violent man, Jules is probably the movie’s most noble character, and (to me) still the defining figure of Tarantino’s oeuvre. That said his work as Ordell Robbie in JACKIE BROWN and Stephen in DJANGO UNCHAINED is probably just as good. Man, I can’t wait for THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

His Most Underrated Role

Jackson’s been in loads of underrated films. From UNTHINKABLE to 187 and so on, his quieter, more subtle turns were often his best – although it’s clear audiences prefer to see him in full “muthafu**a” mode. One of Jackson’s best-ever performances is in M. Night Shyamalan’s UNBREAKABLE. While many of us snicker at Shyamalan these days, the fact is UNBREAKABLE is a full-on masterpiece and one of the best superhero stories of our era. As the mysterious Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass, Jackson’s incredible. For most of the film he’s incredibly personable and sympathetic, making that last minute reveal arguably the most effective moment of Shyamalan’s career. For all the talk of one day continuing the saga, part of me hopes Shyamalan just leaves it alone as UNBREAKABLE is a pretty perfect one off, and a sequel could only dilute its impact.

His Most Overrated Role

For some reason, people of my generation (born in the eighties) seem to misremember NATIONAL LAMPOON’S LOADED WEAPON 1 as being some kind of comedy classic. That cannot be further from the truth. This is one of the dozens of awful NAKED GUN clones that popped up in the early nineties, and may be the worst of the bunch. Jackson and Emilio Estevez give it their all, but even guys like Tim Curry and William Shatner aren’t able to wring any laughs out of this. However, it does have Kathy Ireland so there’s that…

His Most Memorable Scene

Ezekiel 25:17! Muthafu**a!

 
His Five Best Films

5. THE INCREDIBLES
4. UNBREAKABLE
3. DJANGO UNCHAINED
2. JACKIE BROWN
1. PULP FICTION

 

Up Next

Typical for Jackson, he’s staying busy with half a dozen movies in the works including this week's BIG GAME, the TARZAN reboot, the Stephen King adaptation CELL and of course, Tarantino’s HATEFUL EIGHT. I’d love it if that last one finally netted him the Oscar he’s so long deserved.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:43PM on 06/22/2015
I wouldn't call Unbreakable underrated, it's still very popular. For underrated, check out the HBO movie Sunset Limited with Tommy Lee Jones. It's the best acting Jackson has done in a couple of decades. The guy is still awesome, but 9 times out of 10 he's basically playing himself.
I wouldn't call Unbreakable underrated, it's still very popular. For underrated, check out the HBO movie Sunset Limited with Tommy Lee Jones. It's the best acting Jackson has done in a couple of decades. The guy is still awesome, but 9 times out of 10 he's basically playing himself.
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5:43PM on 06/22/2015
I'm surprised there was no mention of the Star Wars prequels or Snakes on a Plane. While I don't hate the prequels, I've discussed them way too often as horrible and overrated. And Snakes on a Plane was just bad with the hopes that Jackson being in full "Mother f*cka" mode would help . . . it doesn't.

There's no denying the man has presence. Pulp Fiction and the Marvel universe are clear examples of that.

I'm also surprised his bit in Goodfellas wasn't mentioned.
I'm surprised there was no mention of the Star Wars prequels or Snakes on a Plane. While I don't hate the prequels, I've discussed them way too often as horrible and overrated. And Snakes on a Plane was just bad with the hopes that Jackson being in full "Mother f*cka" mode would help . . . it doesn't.

There's no denying the man has presence. Pulp Fiction and the Marvel universe are clear examples of that.

I'm also surprised his bit in Goodfellas wasn't mentioned.
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3:00PM on 06/22/2015

He's a Bad Motherfucker!

I knew he'd make the cut this year. As much as I thought he deserved it after Kigsman, having Samuel L. Jackson follow Christopher Lee is just appropriate. Both are/were actors who just liked to work for the sake of it. And both have broken records (not sure if this is still true, but Jackson at one time held the record for his movies grossing more money than any other actor, cumulatively). The amount of entertainment value I get from his interview sessions alone qualifies this guy as a badass,
I knew he'd make the cut this year. As much as I thought he deserved it after Kigsman, having Samuel L. Jackson follow Christopher Lee is just appropriate. Both are/were actors who just liked to work for the sake of it. And both have broken records (not sure if this is still true, but Jackson at one time held the record for his movies grossing more money than any other actor, cumulatively). The amount of entertainment value I get from his interview sessions alone qualifies this guy as a badass, and he is one of the few who can make a line immediately iconic.

Earlier today this page wouldn't let me scroll past his Most Memorable Scene (not gonna argue with it), to read your favorites, or comment. Glad it's cleared up, but that was some fucked up, repugnant shit!*

*(couldn't help it)
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