For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rate our favorite Samuel L. Jackson film roles. Did your favorite make the cut? Find out below!
16. The Negotiator, Danny Roman
15. Changing Lanes, Doyle Gipson
14. Coach Carter, Ken Carter
13. Jungle Fever, Gator Purify
12. Star Wars, Mace Windu
11. Iron Man, Nick Fury
10. Black Snake Moan, Lazarus
9. Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Zeus Carver
8. The Long Kiss Goodnight, Mitch Henessey
7. Deep Blue Sea, Russell Franklin
6. A Time To Kill, Carl Lee Hailey
5. The Incredibles, Fronzone
I will gladly debate anyone who disagrees that The Incredibles is the best super hero movie ever. (I'm well aware that many give The Dark Knight this crown, and it comes close, but it's not.) In addition to having more action, comedy, and pathos than any cartoon has any right to have, the geniuses at Pixar know how to perfectly cast a movie.
They don't feel the need to use stars, unless that star will add something special to the role. Sam Jackson as Frozone could have easily been a parody of Sam Jackson. And while his voice is instantly recognizable, Jackson isn't playing himself. He brings an integral depth and soul to his character that makes you forget the persona behind the voice. But that doesn't mean he can't have fun. Don't believe me? Listen for the glee in his voice during the climax, as Frozone excitedly gets to put on his costume and kick ass one more time.
In a movie filled with funny and memorable characters, Jackson infuses Frozone with his signature coolness, instantly creating an indelible hero for the ages.--Daddy Geek Boy
4. Jackie Brown, Ordell Robbie
I am of the opinion that Samuel L. Jackson is an incredibly versatile actor, and I've liked him in just about every role I've seen him in (regardless of whether I actually like the movie--I'm looking at you, Deep Blue Sea). But even though he is good in any type of role, I've always liked quiet, dangerous Sam Jackson the best.
The first time I saw Jackie Brown, I actually didn't care for it much. In part, I attribute that to the super-high expectations that I had for it based on the fact that Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite movies and, in part, I attribute it to the fact that I was sitting in the front row of the theater. I don't recommend that for any movie, but for a Tarantino film and watching his marathon conversations in close-up kills your neck. And there are a lot of close-up conversations in that movie. It was like watching a tennis match while standing on the net.
The one thing that did stand out as awesome, however, was Sam Jackson. His character, Ordell Robbie, is as cool and suave as any of Jackson's best. He has a wry wit about him that makes him almost instantly likable--despite the fact that you know he's a horrible person who'd kill you in a second if you crossed him. (Look at poor Beaumont, who ended up in Ordell's trunk.) I think it's that likability that makes Ordell one of my favorite Sam Jackson characters, right up there with Jules in Pulp Fiction. And there's also the fact that Ordell has one of my favorite Sam Jackson lines of all time: "AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes." Classic.
By the way, it's worth noting that, since my initial viewing, I've completely changed my mind about Jackie Brown. It's a lot more nuanced and dialog-heavy than Pulp Fiction, but it has become one of my favorites in the Tarantino filmography.--Dave
3. Snakes On A Plane, Neville Flynn
Snakes On A Plane was something of an Internet phenomenon. The title was announced and campy horror film freaks like me were filled with glee. It was being talked about all over the net. Then it came out that they landed Samuel L. Jackson to star. Now, this man can do pretty much whatever he wants. Why on earth did he choose this film? He flat out said in interviews that he accepted the role, script unseen, because of the title. When the studio wanted to change the title, Jackson said, "Hell naw!" and made the execs stick with the title. When the film came in at a PG-13 rating, Jackson and the director, pushed by Internet feedback, went back and shot an extra five days to amp up the rating to a solid R. Incidentally, Jackon's most famous line from the film was taken off the Internet because Jackson and the director thought it was awesome.
I actually went to a midnight showing with my husband and a friend. We had dinner and many drinks at the Wild Wings next door and stumbled into the theater, not totally sure if we'd be there alone or not. Turned out that the theater was packed. There were a number of people dressed in Hawaiian shirts with rubber snakes worn around their necks. And I have to say, I honestly can't remember a more entertaining night at the movies. The crowd was totally into it, cheering at the ridiculously over-the-top gory hilarious deaths, and when Mr. Jackson shouted "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" the audience exploded. I had to be at work at 6:00 AM the next day but it was totally worth it.
Was it a box office smash? Turns out all the Internet hype didn't pan out as huge box office. But did it make me have mad love and respect for the man who was the face of the film? Absolutely. It's not his best work, not by a long shot, but it's one of my favorites because he made it clear that he did the film because he loves movies, he digs his fans, and is one awesome motherfucker.--Archphoenix
2. Unbreakable, Elijah Price
You know, back in the day, before M. Night Shyamalan had used up every once of goodwill I had set aside for his projects, he made Unbreakable.
It was quietly suspenseful, had a complicated and multi-layered star, and of course, Samuel L. Jackson as the villain.
Except Elijah Price wasn't any kind of normal bad guy. Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, he is the weakest of the physically weak with bones so brittle they break with very little contact and cause him to spend endless amounts of time in the hospital recovering from his many accidents.
Idle time is the devil's playground, people. His bitter resentment at his lot in life coupled with his endless fascination with weak and strong ends of the spectrum cause him to reason that if he is the weakest of the weak perhaps somewhere out there is the strongest of the strong.
And so begins a story that had comic book enthusiasts wondering if somewhere out there someone could do all the things that they had fantasized about for years.
Jackson's Elijah Price was so constantly in peril you didn't have time to see the next plot twist coming, you were too busy cringing when you saw him standing at the top of a flight of very steep stairs and praying he didn't lose his footing.
The character was human but not too much so, and Jackson played him with a sort of gentle malevolence that made you like and hate him at the same time. You understood why this guy would have a river of angry magma bubbling right below the surface and while his actions make sense only to him, it's done with such pure intentions you almost forgive him.--Dufmanno
We've done over thirty of these Ranked! columns and this is the first time we've had a unanimous #1. That should tell you just how badass Samuel L. Jackson is as Pulp Fiction's Jules Winnfield.
There's a reason his wallet says Bad Motherfucker: Jules is not a very nice man. He's a hit man who oozes cool and swagger. He screams a lot. He drops a Bible verse on you before he offs you. He's an imposing, menacing figure. He's also someone in the middle of an identity crisis.
Jules gets shot at several times from point-blank range, yet he isn't even grazed by a single bullet. He looks at this as an act of God, much to the disbelief of his partner, Vincent Vega. But Jules continues, loyal to the end, feeling the need to deliver the glowing briefcase to Marsellus Wallace before calling it a day.
The brush with death has changed him. At the end, he tells Vega he's retiring and is planning to "walk the Earth" and "get into adventures" like the guy from Kung Fu. He's through with killing and ready to be The Shepherd. But even with a change of purpose and a change of lifestyle, something tells me he'd still be a Bad Motherfucker.--Chag