Samuel Leroy Jackson has appeared in over a hundred films in his brilliant career. He emerged in the 1990s as one of the most prominent and well-respected actors in Hollywood. Work on a number of projects, both high-profile and low-key, has given Jackson ample opportunity to display an ability marked by both remarkable versatility and smooth intelligence. Born December 21, 1948, in Washington, D.C., Jackson was raised by his mother and grandparents in Chattanooga, TN. He attended Atlanta’s Morehouse College, where he was co-founder of Atlanta’s black-oriented Just Us Theater (the name of the company was taken from a famous Richard Pryor routine). Jackson arrived in New York in 1977, beginning what was to be a prolific career in film, television, and on the stage.
He has been a part of several major blockbuster franchises (Star Wars, Die Hard, Jurassic Park, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe), he has the second highest box office total of all time, averaging nearly $70 million dollars per film.
Here are a few facts you might not know about one of the most badass actors on the planet.
33. Parental Leave
Born in Washington, Jackson was abandoned by his father and subsequently raised by his grandparents in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His mother stayed in Washington until he was nine and only visited him at Christmas and during the summer holidays.
32. The Negotiator
Continuing his activist ways, in 1969, Jackson and several other students held members of the Morehouse College board of trustees hostage on campus, demanding reform to the school’s curriculum (he wanted a black studies course) and governance. Although the college agreed to change its policy, Jackson was charged and convicted of unlawful confinement, a second-degree felony, and he was suspended for two years.
31. Turning a Curse into a Blessing
Jackson had a stuttering problem during childhood which he overcome by using the curse word “motherf***er.” He’s been saying it his whole life, which explains why he’s so gosh darn good at it.
30. How Does That Make You Feel?
Jackson was employed as a social worker in Los Angeles. I can’t help but think about him, arms crossed, staring at me and saying, “Now tell me about your mother f**ing problems.”
29. The Sea Was Angry That Day
Jackson attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where his intent was to become a marine biologist which, obviously, he didn’t do. It’s just as well, because if the film “Deep Blue Sea” was any indication, he would likely have been eaten by a shark.
28. Art Vandelay
Actually, after quitting his pursuit of marine biology, he decided to try his hand at architecture instead. Samuel L. Jackson almost became all the professions that George Costanza pretended to be.
27. We Shall Overcome
Jackson attended the 1968 funeral of Martin Luther King as one of the ushers and then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest march. “I was angry about the assassination,” he said, “but I wasn’t shocked by it.”
26. Ghost Dad
In his entire life, Jackson only ever met his father twice.
25. Now this is a Story All About how…
During his suspension, he became heavily involved in the Black Power movement and although they weren’t militant yet, the group had begun to buy guns. However, after the FBI told his mother that he would die within the year if he remained involved, she sent him to Los Angeles, which is almost essentially the story of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
24. Jungle Fever
Jackson’s feature film debut was in the 1972 blaxploitation indie “Together for Days,” a film about the effect that an interracial relationship had on friends and family. It was then re-released sometime later under the name “Black Cream,” which made it sound much more lurid than it was.
23. God Smiled On Him
Early on his career, when he was still doing only small film roles, Jackson was mentored by Morgan Freeman.
22. Good Standing?
For three years, he worked as a stand-in for Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show. We’d do a Cosby joke, but the world really doesn’t need another Cosby joke.
21. Drugs Are Bad
He spent ten years in New York City acting in plays such as “The Piano Lesson” and “Two Trains Running.” Unfortunately, he developed an addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and that prevented him from continuing with those two plays as they made it to Broadway. Just say no, kids.
20. They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab…
His addictions got worse and he overdosed several times. Fearing for his life, his family entered him into rehab.
19. Methadone Actor
A week and a half after he got out of rehab, Jackson played a crack addict in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.” He did so against the advice of the rehabilitation center who were concerned that being around so much drug paraphernalia, even if they were just props, would cause him to relapse. In the end, he told them, “I will not pick up again for no other reason than I do not ever want to see you in my life again.”
18. It’s a Made-Up Award
Jungle Fever was so acclaimed that the 1991 Cannes Film Festival created a special “Supporting Actor” award just for him.
17. Royale with Cheese
The role of Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” was written specifically for him and although it was his thirtieth film, it was the one that shot him to international fame.
16. The Path of the Righteous Man
Jackson earned an NAACP Image award and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “A Time to Kill” when he played a father on trial for murdering the men who raped his daughter.
15. Wigging Out
When Jackson started losing his hair, he decided to simply go bald because he likes “ending up on those bald is beautiful lists. It’s cool.” No Sam, you’re cool.
Despite being bald, Jackson is the voice of “Afro Samurai,” a badass sword-wielding warrior with a massive head of hair.
13. The Force is With Him
Jackson didn’t find out he was playing Mace Windu in “The Phantom Menace” until he was being fitted for the role. He just wanted to be a part of the franchise and didn’t care what part he played. Samuel L. Jackson is basically the most successful Star Wars fanboy ever.
12. It’s Not Grape, You Racist
Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber in “Attack of the Clones” was Jackson’s idea. He wanted to stand out in a crowded battle scene because the only other black actor that received top twenty billing in the film played Jar Jar Binks. When George Lucas pointed out that lightsabers were traditionally red or green, Jackson responded with “Yeah, but I want a purple one.” Jackson got his purple lightsaber and the Internet immediately exploded.
11. Ultimate Collector’s Item
Jackson claims that his purple lightsaber is inscribed with the words “bad motherf***er.” We added those stars. Samuel L. Jackson does not self-censor.
In other news, Samuel L. Jackson had some pretty sweet news pertaining to Mace Windu’s “death” in Revenge of the Sith. You can check out what he had to say below.
When Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury, it ignited a backlash by fans who screamed that Fury was white and not black and accused Hollywood of “racelifting,” whereby characters written as one ethnicity are played by an actor of another. Of course, it’s unlikely those same fans were as incensed by Jake Gyllenhall playing the Prince of Persia or Gerard Butler playing a God of Egypt.
9. Yeah, Nobody Remembers
Before Samuel L. Jackson took the role of Nick Fury and made it indelibly his, David Hasselhoff played Fury in the 1998 Fox television movie “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
8. Drawing Lines
Marvel Comics has since redrawn Nick Fury in Jackson’s likeness, presumably to prevent Hasselhoff from getting anywhere near that character again.
7. Fair Enough
In fact, Marvel artist Mark Millar had drawn Nick Fury in the likeness of Samuel L. Jackson before he was cast. Jackson, being an avid comic book reader, was perfectly aware of what Marvel had done. When Millar apologized for “completely exploiting” Jackson’s image and likeness for the character and asked if he was annoyed, Jackson responded, “No, man! Thanks for the nine-picture deal!”
In 2004, Jackson starred in both his lowest and highest rated films of his career. He played a mentor to Ashley Judd in “Twisted,” a film which garnered a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But he also lent his voice to Frozone in “The Incredibles,” which scored a 97% approval rating.
5. Who Can Blame Him?
Jackson’s decision to star in “Snakes on a Plane” was based solely on the title.
4. Green Screen
Jackson has demanded a clause in all his film contracts that allows him to play golf during film shoots. Jackson explained the details: “Generally, they either move me onto a golf course so I can play or join a club so I can play, and they have to let me play at least twice a week.” He apparently has a handicap of 6.9.
3. Playing With Himself
Jackson likes collecting the action figures of the characters he’s portrayed in his films. This includes Jules Winnfield, Shaft, Mace Windu, and Frozone. Yes, that’s right. Samuel L. Jackson likes to play with dolls.
2. Uncle Sam Wants You
In 2008, Jackson campaigned for Barack Obama saying, “Barack Obama represents everything I was told I could be growing up. I am a child of segregation. When I grew up and people told me I could be president, I knew it was a lie. But now we have a representative… the American Dream is a reality. Anyone can grow up to be a president.”
1. Han Shot First
Having taken part in some of the biggest blockbuster films in cinematic history, Samuel L. Jackson is number two on the all-time box office list with $4.646 billion behind only Harrison Ford because even though he played a Jedi, nobody is cooler than Han Solo.
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