When you hear the phrase, ‘Hollywood’s most bankable star’, who comes to mind?
Tom Cruise? Hugh Jackman? Tom Hanks?
While those are all good guesses, The Hollywood Reporter recently bestowed the title upon Samuel L. Jackson, 70.
And while Jackson, with over 45 years of experience in the entertainment industry, is certainly a deserving recipient of this title, he may not be the first celeb that comes to mind because, while the talented Jackson has undeniably built an outstanding career, he has also managed to remain largely absent from tabloids and celebrity scandals.
So, while we definitely know that “the most influential actor of all time” (according to a study published in Applied Network Science that used an algorithm to measure various actors’ impact on pop culture) has some serious acting chops, what else do we really know about Samuel L. Jackson?
Over the course of his career, Jackson has appeared in over 120 films that have, in total, earned approximately $13.3 billion dollars worldwide. While it’s fair to assume that a large chunk of that incredible figure is due to his role as Fury in The Avengers franchise films, he has also had numerous big box office hits totally unrelated to the superhero craze. Films like Goodfellas, Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill, Django Unchained, and countless others have all contributed to Jackson’s highly prolific, not to mention highly lucrative, career.
While the relationships of many Hollywood celebrities often fall victim to the negative impact that fame tends to have on love in the limelight, Jackson and his wife of 38 years, LaTanya Richardson, are bona fide exceptions to that trend. Married in 1980 after meeting at Morehouse College, the two have enjoyed a long and happy relationship that is still going strong. They also have a 36-year-old daughter, Zoe, who works as a supervising producer on Bravo’s Top Chef.
As with many others in the 1960s, Jackson began experimenting with drugs during the ‘love era’, but unfortunately, the habit didn’t fade away for him as quickly as the hippie movement did. Of all the drugs that Jackson experimented with, crack was his drug of choice and ended up leading him down a long road living as a [mostly functional] crack addict for more than 15 years. Speaking about his crack days, Jackson says that he hit rock bottom when his wife and daughter found him unconscious in a sea of drug paraphernalia, which is when his wife insisted on rehab. And although Jackson managed to work as an actor while addicted to crack, he knew that he wasn’t reaching his full potential, saying, “The whole time I was using, sure, I had a good reputation. I showed up on time, I did my lines. I was great. But there was something that was keeping me from getting to that next place.” So, he went to rehab, got clean, and kicked that ‘something’ that was holding him back, building the illustrious career that we have all come to know and love.
While many actors have certain roles created just for them or are sought out by directors and producers to transform themselves into a certain character, Samuel L. Jackson not only has this, but he also has people writing entire scripts about him as an individual. In a recent Hollywood Reporter article, the interviewee explained that ta script titled The Kings of Cool made it on this year’s Black List survey of the industry’s best unproduced screenplays with the logline reading, “During segregation in the 1960s American South, a nerdy teen tries to win a student election at an all-black high school, but he’ll have to defeat a blossoming badass named Samuel L. Jackson to do so.”
It’s no secret that Jackson has developed his own brand of “cool” with the abundance of butt-kicking, slang-spitting, seriously badass characters that he’s played over the years. Even Jackson, though always humble, can’t deny the cool-factor that his name carries with it, saying, “You know how many actors go through their careers and people can’t repeat one f-ing line they ever had? I’m a walking T-shirt. It’s better than not being known for anything.” But Jackson isn’t only known for being super-cool, he has also developed plenty of super-cool friends along the road to fame – friends like George Lucas and Stevie Wonder, both of whom showed up to Jackson’s 70th birthday bash, with Lucas giving the toast and Wonder singing “Happy Birthday”. Now, that’s cool.
With such an incredibly fruitful career that includes countless memorable and powerful performances, it’s incredibly surprising that Jackson has only been nominated for only one Oscar award for his unforgettable role in 1994’s Pulp Fiction. And while it seems almost shameful that such a talent hasn’t accumulated a brilliant collection of awards, Jackson seems indifferent to all the fuss over awards. Awards might be nice for some, but it’s a safe bet that Jackson isn’t crying himself to sleep over the size of his awards collection, saying, “I did what I always set out to do. I set out to have a great body of work and enjoy it. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Are you a fan of Samuel L. Jackson? What is your favorite Sam Jackson movie? Do any of these little-known facts surprise you? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below!