Let’s just come out and admit it, Samuel L. Jackson is a national treasure. The baddest muthaf*cka in Hollywood has carved out an illustrious career for himself over the decades and is one of the very few actors to debut in the 70’s who still remain in high demand today. Heck, even some of your favorite Oscar winning actors from the 80’s and 90’s seem washed up these days. They’re having to take on cameo roles and play third or fourth fiddle in straight to cable films. But not Mr. Jackson. Even at the tender age of 70 the legendary actor still seems more than capable of putting foots in asses while delivering some captivating performances for the ages.
And while most fans mostly praise him for the characters he played in classic films such as Pulp Fiction, A Time To Kill, and more recently his portrayal of Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Samuel L. Jackson has some underrated and often overlooked roles that only his true blue fans appreciate.
From voicing a Black samurai out to avenge the death of his father to the wisecracking private eye accompanying a spy with amnesia on her journey for her truth, Mr. Jackson has left some memorable roles forgotten and lost to the 90’s… but not to us.
Check out our list of Samuel L. Jackson’s five most underrated and overlooked roles of his career.
Honorable Mentions: Fresh, Eve’s Bayou, Coach Carter, The Hateful Eight
Afro Samurai (2008)
Character: Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja
If white man Tom Cruise can be The Last Samurai, why can’t Samuel L. Jackson be a samurai too? Unfortunately, he only voiced the greatest Black Samurai to have ever walked the earth (and his chain-smoking-smack-talkin’ alter ego), but the two chapter anime films were instant hits with fans of the genre and of Jackson.
One Eight Seven (1997)
Character: Trevor Garfield
Even in states that have strict gun laws the grind of a public school teacher isn’t for the faint of heart as there have been many incidents in which students have assaulted teachers and even security guards for whatever reasons. In One Eight Seven, it was Method Man that demonstrated as much when he shanked up Samuel L. Jackson (LATE SPOILER ALERT!) and ran off like he was in that “All I Need” music video (same exact method of running with his hands flailing in the air and everything). Things only got wilder, when the Brooklyn teacher took his talents to LA and went from teaching thugged out Clan members to Latino gangbangers. In the end, Jackson proved that education can become a life and death situation and that teachers really don’t get paid enough for the sh*t they go through day in and day out.
The Negotiator (1998)
Character: Danny Roman
Rocking a red hairpiece like he was trying to fool racist cops into thinking he was half-Irish or something, Lt. Danny Roman gets set up by corrupt cops who of course want to blame the black guy and have him take the fall for their crimes (sounds real Trumpish doesn’t it?). In an effort to clear his name, the department’s top hostage negotiator takes a few cops hostage and demands the best police negotiator he knows (Kevin Spacey) to comply with his demands and help him work his way to the truth.
National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
Character: Wes Luger
Though the Lethal Weapon franchise was gold at the box office, National Lampoon’s parody Loaded Weapon 1 was not. But damnit it was hilarious. With 90’s Hollywood star (and partial Latino) Emilio Estevez taking on Mel Gibson’s character and Samuel L. Jackson playing his Danny Glover counterpart, Loaded Weapon 1 did a clever job of spoofing hit films such as Die Hard, Silence of The Lambs, Basic Instinct, and of course, Lethal Weapon. Boasting cameos from Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen’s birth name that he began using again to appeal to another audience once his career began belly flopping due to his wild behavior and excessive consumption of “tiger blood”), you’d think the film would’ve been the talk of the town. Unfortunately social media wasn’t invented for a few more decades and word of mouth wasn’t strong enough to save the Gene Quintano film. Such a shame.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Character: Mitch Henessey
While Geena Davis was the star of the film as the female spy/assassin, Charlie Baltimore (where did you think Biggie’s girl/artist, Charlie Baltimore got her name from?), Samuel L. Jackson’s wisecracking private detective of a sidekick, Mitch Henessey constantly stole the show. The dialogue in his first scene alone set the stage for one of the most entertaining and memorable roles of Jackson’s career.
“Now I’m Sgt. Madigan, Vice, and if you do cop a ‘tude, jerkoff, I will see to it you spend the next 10 years in prison getting a**-f*cked. If the case is thrown out because my arrest was violent, I will personally hire men to ass-f*ck you for the next ten years. So if you’re an a**-f*cking fan, you go ahead and mouth off.”
Aaaaand scene. Well, the scene kept going but that right there set up his character for the rest of the film and it was nothing less than badass and heartwarming hilarity.
We love you Mr. Jackson.
Never change, sir. Never change.