Happy birthday, Samuel L. Jackson! We can barely believe that Hollywood’s baddest motherf—ing actor is turning 65 today, and we figure he has to be celebrating in the most awesome way imaginable. We decided to mark the day by looking back at the actor’s roles where he takes heads, lays down the law, and sometimes, gets downright devious.
With more than 100 film parts under his belt, it wasn’t easy to narrow down the characters through which Sam exhibited his signature badassery. And even with the actor playing both good guys and bad guys, we were still able to pinpoint the most hardcore roles. Plus, we mined some of his lesser-known parts in some of Hollywood’s biggest films to see if you can remember when he popped up.
So whether he’s going for comedy or for drama, Samuel L. Jackson manages to always deliver what we want. Click through the pages of the post to see clips from the roles we’ve chosen and remember, many of them are laced with the profanity that made us fall in love with Sam Jack in the first place!
[Photo Credit: New Line Cinema/Paramount]
10. Hold-up Man, Coming To America
Fans of Eddie Murphy’s 1988 comedy about an African prince looking for love in the U.S. may not immediately recall that Samuel L. Jackson’s bit part in the flick. The clip above sums up his screen time, but the scene shows that Sam knew how to hold his own against Hollywood heavyweights, before becoming one himself.
9. Ray Arnold, Jurassic Park
After things go horribly awry during a tour of the world’s first dinosaur park, Ray Arnold is enlisted to undo damage to the park’s computerized security system. Fans were treated to one of the film’s most memorable lines: “Hold on to your butts.”
8. Elijah Price, Unbreakable
The moody, unsuspecting villain of M. Night Shyamalan’s tale of an everyday superhero made our blood curdle. With his penchant for comic books and a crippling disability, Elijah identified with anyone feeling marginalized enough to unleash havoc.
7. John Shaft, Shaft
This campy sendup of the legendary blaxploitation film is only for the most devoted Sam Jack fans. Whether you loved this movie or hated it, you couldn’t deny that the lead character definitely held it down for his ’hood.
6. Neville Flynn, Snakes On A Plane
The title of this cult flick gives away the basic premise, so can we just listen to Sam say the movie’s most famous line?
5. Ordell Robbie, Jackie Brown
A gun-runner who helps Pam Grier’s title character make some money on the side, Ordell has no problem taking the most ruthless routes to protect himself from the law.
4. Zeus Carver, Die Hard With A Vengeance
As an unsuspecting shopkeeper roped into a disgraced detective’s drama, Zeus had no problem speaking his mind to piss off Bruce Willis’ John McClane. But when the plot to kill the cop became a personal matter for Zeus, he put his politics aside to help bring down a madman.
3. Stephen, Django Unchained
The conniving house slave in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial revenge film, Stephen was described by Sam as “the Dick Cheney” of the plantation featured in the flick. Whoa, if that’s not evil, we don’t know what is.
2. Nick Fury, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers
Hey, only the best of the best has the bona fides to recruit the most powerful superheroes around.
1. Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
Seriously folks, is this even debatable? Sam Jack’s turn as the Scripture-spouting gangster catapulted the actor to stardom in the ’90s. Who among us hasn’t recited at least one line uttered by Jules Winnfield? And for those who grew up in secular households, he probably introduced you to the first Bible verse you could quote from memory.