Samuel L. Jackson is one of the biggest actors in Hollywood having starred in an extensive list of films. He was born in Washington D.C. on December 21, 1948, and began his career in the entertainment industry in 1972. However, it was during the 1990s that he rose to prominence as he began starring in many blockbuster movies. Another reason why he suddenly became so successful during this decade is that during this period, he collaborated on several occasions with talented director Quentin Tarantino. Many of the films in which Samuel Jackson has starred have become massive hits, both critically and commercially, as his films have won awards and achieved high box office figures. Here are 20 of Samuel L. Jackson’s best movie roles of his career.
20. Gerald Olin- 1408
This 2007 horror film is directed by Mikael Hafstrom and is written by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski. It is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It is about an author called Mike Enslin who is investigating houses that are allegedly haunted. During his investigations, he rents room 1408 at a hotel in New York City. While in this room, he experiences bizarre events. Reviews of the film were positive and it was a financial success as it grossed $132 million. John Cusack played the role of author Mike Enslin and Samuel L. Jackson plays Gerald Olin, the hotel owner. Others starring in this movie include Mary McCormick, Tony Shalhoub, Len Cariou, and Jasmine Jessica Anthony.
19. Doyle Gipson- Changing Lanes
Directed by Roger Mitchell, ‘Changing Lanes’ is a drama thriller film that was released in 2002. It is based on a story by Chap Taylor who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Tolkin. Ben Affleck stars as a young Wall Street lawyer who crashes his car into a car driven by Doyle Gipson, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson. Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who works as a car insurance salesman. The two men try to get back at each other for the accident and their actions impact on each other’s lives in a significant way. For the most part, this film was received favorably by critics and it was a commercial success, grossing $95 million from a budget of $45 million.
18. Lazarus Redd- Black Snake Moan
‘Black Snake Moan’ is a 2006 drama film that was written and directed by Craig Brewer. Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead role of Lazarus Redd who is a Mississippi bluesman who finds a troubled local woman beaten at the side of the road. He holds her captive at his home while he tries to cure her of her nymphomania. The movie also stars Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Sadly, this film was unsuccessful both commercially and critically. It took a mere $10.9 million at the box office despite having cost $15 million to make. In its opening weekend, it made just $4 million. Ricci blamed a lot of this on the marketing of the film and specifically pointed the finger at the poster used. She said the image of her kneeling in chains in front of Jackson gave the impression that the film was exploiting women.
17. Russel Franklin- Deep Blue Sea
In this 1999 science fiction horror film, Samuel L. Jackson stars as Russel Franklin. Others who starred in this film included Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, Michael Rapport, Jacqueline McKenzie, and rapper LL Cool J. The film was directed by Renny Harlin and co-written by Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, and Wayne Powers. The film is about a team of scientists who are working at an underwater facility to research mako sharks in a plight to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Director Harlin had a challenge on his hands as he had not made a commercially successful film since ‘Cliffhanger’ in 1993. His luck changed with this movie as it grossed $164.6 million from a budget of $82 million. Although initial reviews were mixed, these improved and many aspects of the movie were praised, from the dialogue to the realistic effects.
16. Mace Windu- The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
Between 1999 and 2005, Samuel L. Jackson played the role of Mace Windu who is a high-ranking of the Jedi Council in the ‘Star Wars’ prequel trilogy. This character also opposes the training of Anakin. The three films in this trilogy are ‘Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace’, ‘Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones’, and ‘Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith’. All three films were written and directed by George Lucas, who had previously said he was not interested in making a prequel to the ‘Star Wars’ series of films.
15. Parnell ‘Stacks’ Edwards- Goodfellas
‘Goodfellas’ was a huge hit for Martin Scorsese who directed and co-wrote the movie with Nicholas Pileggi. This 1990 crime film was based on the novel ‘Wiseguy’ which was also written by Pileggi. The movie is about mob associate Henry Hill and his rise and fall between 1955 and 1980. This film received great critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, of which it won for Best Actor. It also won five Awards from the British Academy of Film and Television. This film is still considered one of the greatest films in the crime genre of all-time. It also achieved a reasonable level of commercial success as it grossed $46.8 million from a budget of $25 million. Jackson plays the role of Parnell ‘Stacks’ Edwards, a mobster, in this film. Others who starred in ‘Goodfellas’ include Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and Paul Sorvino.
14. Big Don- True Romance
This 1993 crime film was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. The film had elements of both romance and black comedy and is about a call girl marrying a lonely pop culture geek. They steal cocaine from her pimp and then the mob tries to reclaim it by tracking them down. In this film, Jackson plays the role of Big Don. The lead roles in this movie are played by Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette. Other members of the ensemble cast include Brad Pitt, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Dennis Hopper, Bronson Pinchot, Gary Oldman, James Gandolfini, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, and Val Kilmer. Despite having such as strong cast, writer, and director, this movie struggled to break even. It had a budget of $12.5 million and grossed only $12.3 million at the box office.
13. Sergeant Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson- S.W.A.T
‘S.W.A.T’ is an action crime thriller film that was released in 2003 that is based on a television series of the same name that was aired in 1975. It was directed by Clark Johnson and written by David Ayer and David McKenna. In this movie, Samuel L. Jackson stars as Sergeant Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson. Others starring in this movie include Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, and LL Cool J. The story is about a drug kingpin who is in police custody and offers a huge reward to anyone who can break him out of jail. The only people who can prevent this from happening are LAPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics team. This movie was a hit with both the critics and the public. It grossed $207.2 million at the worldwide box office.
12. Detective John Shaft II- Shaft
Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead role of Detective John Shaft II in this 2000 action thriller film and is the nephew of the lead character from the 1971 film of the same name. ‘Shaft’ is based on a novel of the same name by Ernest Tidyman. The movie was directed by John Singleton who also co-wrote the film with Richard Price and Shane Salerno. Others starring in this movie include Vanessa L. Williams, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright, Toni Collette, Richard Roundtree, Dan Hedaya, and Busta Rhymes. The storyline follows a racially motivated murder committed by the son of a real estate tycoon and how Shaft goes on a personal mission to bring him to justice. This movie was made on a budget of $46 million and grossed $107.2 million at the box office. It was also well received critically.
11. Ray Arnold- Jurassic Park
‘Jurassic Park’ is an award-winning science-fiction adventure film that was released in 1993. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp. It is based on a novel of the same name that was also written by Michael Crichton. In this movie, Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of Ray Arnold, who is the chief engineer of the park. It also stars Sam Neill, Laura Denn, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, and Martin Ferraro. The film is about a theme park created by scientists that is filled with cloned dinosaurs. The film ranks in the top 30 of the highest grossing films of all-time as it grossed $1.029 billion from a budget of $63 million. ‘Jurassic Park’ also won more than 20 awards, including three Academy Awards.
10. Coach Ken Carter- Coach Carter
This biographical sports drama film was released in 2005. It is based on the true story of Coach Ken Carter who suspended his undefeated high school basketball team for poor academic results in 1999. The movie was directed by Thomas Carter and the screenplay was written by Mark Schwahn and John Gatins. Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead role in this movie with the ensemble cast including Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Debbie Morgan, and Ashanti. Although the film received some criticism for inaccuracies, the majority of the reviews were positive. It was also well-received by moviegoers as it grossed $76.7 million. This movie won several awards. These included a Black Movies Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing and a Black Reel Award for Best Director. Samuel L. Jackson personally won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.
9. Mitch Henessey- The Long Kiss Goodnight
Renny Harlin directed this 1996 action thriller film while Shane Black wrote the screenplay. Samuel L. Jackson played the lead male role of Mitch Henessey opposite Geena Davis as Samantha Caine. Others who starred in the film include Patrick Malahide, Craig Bierko, Brian Cox, and David Morse. The film is about a woman who has been suffering from amnesia. When her past roubles return, she also begins to recover her memories. This film did reasonably well when it was released in movie theaters as it grossed $89.5 million from a budget of $65 million. On the whole, critics gave the movie good reviews.
8. Lieutenant Danny Roman- The Negotiator
‘The Negotiator’ is a 1998 action crime drama film about an experienced police hostage negotiator who is accused of murder and corruption. To gain the time he needs to find the truth and prove his innocence, he takes hostages in a government office. Samuel L. Jackson plays ‘The Negotiator’ Lieutenant Danny Roman. The film also starred Kevin Spacey. Despite having big names including Jackson and Spacey attached to the film, it was a commercial disaster. The film cost $50 million to make but only grossed $49.1 million at the box office. It was directed by F. Gary Gray and written by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox. The storyline of the movie is loosely based on a pension fund scandal involving the St. Louis Police Department during the late 1980s through to the early 1990s.
7. Zeus Carver- Die Hard with a Vengeance
In ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’, Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, an NYPD Lieutenant and Samuel L. Jackson plays his partner Zeus Carver. Others starring in this 1995 action film include Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Sam Phillips, and Larry Bryggman. The film is based on the novel ‘Simon Says’ by Jonathan Hensleigh, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’ was directed and co-produced by John McTiernan. Initially, the film received mixed reviews from critics, despite being the highest grossing film of the year when it took $336.1 million at the box office. It is the third film in the ‘Die Hard’ series of films.
6. Ordell Robbie- Jackie Brown
‘Jackie Brown’ is another film starring Samuel L. Jackson that is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. This 1997 crime thriller film is an adaptation of the 1992 novel ‘Rum Punch’ by Elmore Leonard. This film is the only occasion in which Tarantino has adapted a previous work rather than creating an idea for a film from scratch. ‘Jackie Brown’ pays homage to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s and stars Pam Grier in the lead role. Samuel L. Jackson portrays Ordell Robbie and other cast members include Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, Robert De Niro, and Chris Tucker. The film was a commercial success as it grossed $74.7 million from a budget of $12 million. It also received good reviews from film critics. Jackson won a Silver Bear Award for Best Actor for his role in this movie.
5. Nick Fury- Marvel Cinematic Universe Films
The role that Samuel L. Jackson has played the most repeatedly is that of Nick Fury and this has led to the character becoming one of his best-known roles. His likeness was used with his permission for the Ultimate version of this character for Marvel Comics. He first played the role in person in 2008 in ‘Iron Man’, followed by ‘Iron Man 2′ in 2011. Other films in which he has portrayed this character include ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘’Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. He has also played this role in the television series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
4. Carl Lee Hailey- A Time to Kill
In this 1996 crime drama film, Samuel L. Jackson takes on the lead role of Carl Lee Hailey. Others starring in the movie include Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Patrick McGoohan, Brenda Fricker, and Oliver Platt. It was written by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Joel Schumacher. The story is based on the novel of the same name by John Grisham. It is about a young girl who is gang raped, the arrest of the rapists and how the father of the raped girl goes on to kill his daughter’s attackers. ‘A Time to Kill’ grossed $152 million at the worldwide box office.
3. Elijah Price- Unbreakable
This 2000 superhero thriller film starred Bruce Willis as David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price. Others who starred in this movie include Robin Wright, Davis Duffield, Johnny Hiram, Laura Regan, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard. The film is about a man who doesn’t realize he has the powers of a superhero and a comic art collector who reveals his powers that is later revealed as a villain who has created disasters. The movie was made on a budget of $75 million and grossed $248.1 million at the box office. It was written, directed, and co-produced by M. Night Shyamalan. This movie led to two stand-alone sequels. ‘Split’ was released in 2017 and ‘Glass’ is set for release in 2019.
2. Stephen- Django Unchained
‘Django Unchained’ is a revisionist Western film that was released in 2012. It was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starred an ensemble cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio Christopher Waltz, and Kerry Washington. Others who had supporting roles in this movie included Don Johnson, Dennis Christopher, Walton Goggins, and James Remar. The film is set in Antebellum South and the Old West. It is intended as a tribute to the Spaghetti Westerns, especially ‘Django’, a 1966 Italian film directed by Sergio Corbucci. This film starred Franco Nero and he makes a cameo appearance in Spaghetti Unchained. Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of Stephen. The film was made on a budget of $100 million and grossed $425.4 million at the worldwide box office, meaning it was a commercial success. It also received excellent reviews, although it did face criticism for some historical inaccuracies.
1. Jules Winnfield- Pulp Fiction
When Jackson played Jules Winnfield in ‘Pulp Fiction’ it was considered his breakthrough role and remains one his best loved roles to this day. This was also the first film in which he collaborated with director Quentin Tarantino. ‘Pulp Fiction’ is a 1994 crime film that was both written and directed by Tarantino. Jackson starred alongside John Travolta and Uma Thurman. Others who appeared in this film included Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Eric Stoltz, and Ving Rhames. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars, of which it won one for Best Original Screenplay. It also won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994. It is now considered a cult movie and was selected by the United States National Film Registry for preservation. The movie was also a huge commercial success as it was made on a budget of just $8.5 million but grossed $213.9 million at the worldwide box office.
Tell us what's wrong with this post? How could we improve it? :)
Let us improve this post!