It’s Samuel L. Jacksons’s birthday! Here are five of my favourite performances of his. Check some of these out!
Black Snake Moan (2006)
One of my favourite performances and definitely one of his most underrated, Jackson’s portrayal of an aged Mississippi bluesman is a memorable one. One day his character Lazarus comes across a young woman (Christina Ricci) and sees it as his duty to cure her of her nymphomania. He also has plenty of personal demons to battle himself. It’s a raw and passionate performance and we even get to hear him belt out a few gritty blues tunes, adding to a fantastic soundtrack overall.
Django Unchained (2012)
He might not get that much screen time, but pound for pound this performance might just be Jackson’s finest. In a transformative display, his snivelling sycophantic turn as Stephen (the loyal house slave of main antagonist Calvin Candie) is as darkly humorous as it is chilling. The fact he shares the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx yet still manages to steal the show, says it all. When a performance makes you feel this uncomfortable, you know it’s good.
Hard Eight (1996)
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s debut feature, Jackson plays Jimmy, a hustler who comes between the two leads (Phillip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly). At first he’s an unremarkable character but as the plot progresses Jimmy becomes pivotal to how the story pans out. The seedy change in attitude his character takes is expertly executed by Jackson and his simple but effective performance really adds to an already great film. Worth checking out if you are a fan of the director or any of the cast.
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jackson is a frequent collaborator with Quentin Tarantino. He is probably best known for his starring role as Jules from Pulp Fiction and I’ve already mentioned his turn in Django Unchained. Yet for some reason his performance in Jackie Brown seems to receive less acclaim than the others. As arms dealer Ordell Robbie he goes through a full range of personas and manages to encapsulate pure menace. His larger than life personality jumps off the screen.
Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
The age-old formula of two polar opposites who can’t stand each others company being forced to work together has rarely been done as well as in Die Hard with a Vengeance. The Chemistry between Jackson and Bruce Willis is fantastic and a big part of this is due to Jacksons trademark ‘man who’s angry at the world’ performance. Their arc has plenty of ups and downs, eventually leading to the inevitable bromance. An underrated film film caps off a fantastic initial trilogy before the sequels came along to tarnish the Die Hard name.
What are some of your favorite films to feature birthday boy Samuel L. Jackson?