Samuel L. Jackson
- Samuel Leroy Jackson
December 21, 1948 (age 72)
- Actor, Film Producer, Television Producer, Voice Actor, Social Worker
- LaTanya Richardson
- Elizabeth Jackson
Samuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an American actor and film producer. He achieved prominence and critical acclaim in the early 1990s with films such as Jungle Fever (1991), Patriot Games (1992), Amos & Andrew (1993), True Romance (1993), Jurassic Park (1993) and his collaborations with director Quentin Tarantino in the films Pulp Fiction (1994) and Jackie Brown (1997). He is a highly prolific actor, appearing in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Unbreakable (2000), Shaft (2000), The 51st State (2001), Black Snake Moan (2006), Snakes on a Plane (2006) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005).
With Jackson's permission, his likeness was used for the Marvel Comics character Ultimate Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008–present). He cameoed as Fury in a post-credits scene from Iron Man (2008), and went on to sign a nine-film commitment to reprise this role in future films, including major roles in Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and minor roles in Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). He is set to reprise the role again in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron and has appeared in two episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Jackson has achieved critical and commercial acclaim, surpassing Frank Welker as the actor with the highest grossing film total of all time in October 2011, and received numerous accolades and awards. He is married to LaTanya Richardson, with whom he has a daughter, Zoe.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up as an only child in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His father lived away from the family, in Kansas City, Missouri, and later died from alcoholism. Jackson had only met his father twice during his life. Jackson was raised by his mother, Elizabeth Jackson (née Montgomery), who was a factory worker and later a supplies buyer for a mental institution, and with his maternal grandparents and extended family. According to DNA tests, Jackson partially descends from the Benga people of Gabon.
Jackson attended several segregated schools and graduated from Riverside High School in Chattanooga. Between the third and twelfth grades, he played the French horn and trumpet in the school orchestra. During childhood, he had a stuttering problem, which he conquered by developing an affinity for the use of the curse word, motherfucker, in his vocabulary.
Initially intent on pursuing a degree in marine biology, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After joining a local acting group to earn extra points in a class, Jackson found an interest in acting and switched his major. Before graduating in 1972, he co-founded the "Just Us Theatre".
Jackson initially majored in marine biology at Morehouse College before switching to architecture. He later settled on drama after taking a public speaking class and appearing in a version of The Threepenny Opera. Jackson began acting in multiple plays, including Home and A Soldier's Play. He appeared in several television films, and made his feature film debut in the blaxploitation independent film 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, which both premiered at the Yale Repertory Theater. At this point in his early career, Jackson developed addictions to alcohol and cocaine, resulting in him being unable to proceed with the two plays as they continued to Broadway (actors Charles S. Dutton and Anthony Chisholm took his place). Throughout his early film career, mainly in minimal roles in films such as Coming to America and various television films, Jackson was mentored by Morgan Freeman. After a 1981 performance in the play A Soldier's Play, Jackson was introduced to director Spike Lee who would later include him in small roles for the films School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989). He also played a minor role in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas as real-life Mafia associate Stacks Edwards and also worked as a stand-in on The Cosby Show for Bill Cosby for three years.
After a turn as the criminal Big Don in the 1993 Quentin Tarantino-penned True Romance directed by Tony Scott, Tarantino contacted Jackson for the role of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. Jackson was surprised to learn that the part had been specifically written for him: "To know that somebody had written something like Jules for me. I was overwhelmed, thankful, arrogant – this whole combination of things that you could be, knowing that somebody's going to give you an opportunity like that." Although Pulp Fiction was Jackson's thirtieth film, the role made him internationally recognized and he received praise from critics. In a review by Entertainment Weekly, his role was commended: "As superb as Travolta, Willis, and Keitel are, the actor who reigns over Pulp Fiction is Samuel L. Jackson. He just about lights fires with his gremlin eyes and he transforms his speeches into hypnotic bebop soliloquies." For the Academy Awards, Miramax Films pushed for the Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jackson (although he had about the same screen time as Travolta, who was nominated for Best Actor). For his performance, Jackson received a Best Supporting Actor nomination. In addition, Jackson won a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor award.
Box office performance
Jackson has said that he chooses roles that are "exciting to watch" and have an "interesting character inside of a story", and that in his roles he wanted to "do things [he hasn't] done, things [he] saw as a kid and wanted to do and now [has] an opportunity to do". Throughout the 1990s, A.C. Neilson E.C.I., a box office tracking company, determined that Jackson appeared in more films than any other actor that grossed $1.7 billion domestically. For all the films in his career, where he is featured as a leading actor or supporting co-star, his films have grossed a total of $2.81 to $4.91 billion at the North American box office, placing him as the seventh (as strictly lead) or the second highest-grossing movie star (counting supporting roles) of all time; behind only that of voice actor Frank Welker. The 2009 edition of The Guinness World Records, which uses a different calculation to determine film grosses, stated that Jackson is the world's highest grossing actor, having earned $7.42 billion in 68 films.
In 1980, Jackson married actress and sports channel producer LaTanya Richardson, whom he met while attending Morehouse College. The couple have a daughter, Zoe, born in 1982. In 2009, they started their own charitable organization to help support education. Jackson has said he attends each of his films in theaters with paying customers, claiming: "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." He also enjoys collecting the action figures of the characters he portrays in his films, including Jules Winnfield, Shaft, Mace Windu, and Frozone. He is a comic book and anime fan. His favorite anime series include Ninja Scroll and Black Lagoon.