Still Tryin’ Real Hard To Be The Shepherd
Date of Assessment: August 6, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Bad motherfucker, fierce, furious
Negative Buzzwords: Pretentious, indiscriminate, "steepled fingers"
The Case: Now, here's a motherfucker for whom I can't possibly mention every career highlight and lowlight, so any attempt towards a comprehensively detailed assessment would appear futile and read more like a dryly-written filmography. So, since everyone's got an opinion of Samuel L. Jackson, this assessment shall likely read as more of a cursory overview that couldn't possibly hope to do justice to a prolific actor who's been tearing it up since the early 1970s. With that said, perhaps the comment section would do well to fill in the gaps as far as best and worst Samuel L. Jackson movies are concerned. Do understand, however, that it's difficult for me to think even remotely disrespectful thoughts about this motherfucker, despite the fact that, in just the few past years, he's participated in crap like The Spirit, Lakeview Terrace, and Snakes on a Plane. Somehow, none of that matters here. He's motherfucking Shaft. He's the voice of God. Hell, he's the motherfucker from Long Kiss Goodnight, Jungle Fever, Jackie Brown, Menace to Society, and A Time to Kill. Even more importantly -- and notwithstanding his notoriously "steepled hands" and talk of "the craft" -- Samuel L. Jackson not only talks the talk but... well, surely, you know where this is going.
Dissenters, I do hear you and empathize, but even though I've also endured several horrible Samuel L. Jackson movies, I've still got the utmost respect for the guy. He's one hell of a compelling performer and has personally endured and come back from the darkest human depths. As such, he now able to claim nearly two decades of sobriety after OD'ing on crack cocaine in 1991. Shortly afterward rehab, Jackson did Jungle Fever and managed to resist the trigger behaviors of his character. Since then, Jackson hasn't stopped moving forth into a multitude of roles. In good movies, he never fails to stand out with a memorable performance; in bad movies, well, at least we get to watch Samuel L. Jackson do his thing, which generally involves his anger translating into hilarity because, motherfuckers, we get it. Even so, the bloke's capable of turning in the occasional understated performance, which he pulled off so well in 1408. Yet overall, Jackson is so well known for his abrasive, loud-mouthed characters that he's the indisputed prototype for the Motherfuckometer. Further, his reputation for profanity spills right into his daily vocabulary, according to Omar Doom, who reveals that Jackson drops an "MF bomb" within 3 seconds of entering a room and even does so "at the gym." (I even like to imagine those weightlifting reps as a matter of "One motherfucker, two motherfucker....")
However, the quality of hilarious indignation isn't enough to explain Samuel's enduring career, which has been helped along by his ability to play well with others. He teams up often with other likable actors, such as Bruce Willis (both teaming up for Loaded Weapon 1, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance & Unbreakable), and makes quite an impression on directors, with Spike Lee taking an interest in his early career. Jackson is also a favorite player of director Quentin Tarantino (appearing in Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 & Inglourious Basterds); the latter actually dug Jackson's True Romance performance so much that QT wrote Pulp's Jules specifically with Jackson in mind. And this fact comes as no surprise, for it's difficult to imagine anyone else besides Samuel L. Jackson being able to pull off those lengthy speeches with the poetic rapid-fire and inherent coolness of Jules, who remains one of Tarantino's most iconic characters. Let's face it -- this motherfucker just has a way with dialogue, which makes him an obvious choice for the wise-talking characters in Tarantino flicks. (In contrast, he convincingly pulled off a stuttering paranoid schizophrenic in Caveman Valentine) Interestingly enough, the actor who's become so renowned for his vocal talents had to overcome a childhood stammer before he was able to make any script his bitch.
Recently, Samuel L. Jackson continues to reap the benefits of his muse-like qualities. I'm now speaking, of course of the aptly-named Nick Fury, for whom Jackson was actually the inspiration for the Ultimate Marvel version of the character, who was inexplicably portrayed by David Hasselhoff in some unimaginably awful made-for-television movie. Fortunately, Marvel Studios came to their senses and cast Jackson as the forward-looking incarnation of Fury during one quick scene of Iron Man that, admittedly, has become known as one of the most memorable post-credit tags in cinematic history. Hell, I'm not even much of an Iron Man fan girl (compared to the -ahem- other writers here), but I can't possibly deny the coolness of that scene. Now, Jackson has inked a nine-film deal with Marvel Studios to continue as Nick Fury. Not bad, motherfucker... not bad at all.
Prognosis: Prolific and never one to rest upon the proverbial motherfucking laurels, Jackson's Nick Fury gig would be enough to cement his entire future career. However, I doubt we could ever get rid of him that easily, motherfuckers. Quite simply, Samuel L. Jackson will be acting until he physically can no longer do so. Let's hope that moment never arrives.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.