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Jackson, Samuel L. 1948(?)–

JACKSON, Samuel L. 1948(?)–

(Sam Jackson, Samuel Jackson)

PERSONAL

Full name, Samuel Leroy Jackson; born December 21, 1948 (some sources cite 1949), in Washington, DC; raised in Chattanooga, TN; son of Elizabeth Jackson (a domestic worker and supply buyer); married LaTanya Richardson (an actress), 1980; children: Zoe. Education: Morehouse College, B.A., 1972. Avocational Interests: Golf, diving, films.

Addresses: Agent—Toni Howard, International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Manager—The Firm, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist—Lisa Kasteler, Wolf/Kasteler/Van Iden and Associates Public Relations, 335 North Maple Dr., Suite 351, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Career: Actor, voice performer, and producer. Just Us Theatre Company, Atlanta, GA, founding member. Former member of Negro Ensemble Company and affiliate of Black Image Theatre; worked in street theatre, repertory theatre, and developmental theatre; actor and voice artist in television commercials and appeared in print advertisements. Also worked as a social worker and a security officer. Samuel L. Jackson Celebrity Golf Classic (fund–raising event), host. Some sources cite Jackson as a stand–in for Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show.

Awards, Honors: Special Jury Prize, Cannes International Film Festival, best supporting actor in a full–length film, and New York Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, both 1991, for Jungle Fever; Society of Texas Film Critics Award, best actor, 1994, Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best supporting actor, Independent Spirit Award, Independent Features Project West, best male lead, Academy Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role, and MTV Movie Award nomination (with John Travolta), best on–screen duo, all 1995, all for Pulp Fiction; Annual CableACE Award nomination, National Cable Television Association, best supporting actor in a movie or miniseries, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, both 1995, for Against the Wall; Image Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, outstanding supporting actor in a motion picture, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite suspense actor, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture, all 1997, for A Time to Kill; Image Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a motion picture, 1997, for The Long Kiss Goodnight; named one of "the top 100 movie stars of all time," Empire, 1997; Silver Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, best actor, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture comedy or musical, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best male performance, all 1998, for Jackie Brown; Black Film Award, Acapulco Black Film Festival, best actor, Golden Satellite Award nomination, International Press Academy, best supporting actor in a motion picture drama, Image Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a motion picture, and Independent Spirit Award (with others), best first feature, all 1998, for Eve's Bayou; Independent Spirit Award nomination, best supporting actor, 1998, for Hard Eight; Image Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a motion picture, Black Film Award nomination, best actor, and Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite action and adventure actor, all 1999, for The Negotiator; Career Achievement Award, Acapulco Black Film Festival, 1999; named man of the year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1999; Artists of Vision Award, 1999; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2000; honored by the Deauville American Film Festival, 2000; Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a motion picture, and Black Reel Award nomination, best theatrical actor, Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite action actor, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best dressed category, all 2001, for Shaft; Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite suspense actor, 2001, for Unbreakable; BET Award nomination, Black Entertainment Television, best actor, 2001; Essence Award, 2001; Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a motion picture, and Black Reel Award nomination, best theatrical actor, both 2003, for Changing Lanes; Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a motion picture, 2004, for S.W.A.T.; commencement speaker, Vassar College, 2004.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

(As Sam Jackson) Stan, Together for Days (also known as Black Cream), Olas, 1972.

Second gang member, Ragtime, Paramount, 1981.

Eddie's uncle, Eddie Murphy Raw (also known as Raw), Paramount, 1987.

Holdup man, Coming to America (also known as Prince in New York), Paramount, 1988.

Leeds, School Daze, Columbia, 1988.

(Uncredited) Criminal, Sea of Love, Universal, 1989.

(As Sam Jackson) Mister Senor Love Daddy, Do the Right Thing, Universal, 1989.

Dream blind man, The Exorcist III (also known as Exorcist III: The Legion and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist III), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1990.

Madlock, Mo' Better Blues, Universal, 1990.

Mickey, Betsy's Wedding, Buena Vista, 1990.

Minister Garth, Def by Temptation, Troma, 1990.

(As Sam Jackson) Nate Cabot, The Return of Superfly, Triton, 1990.

Stacks Edwards, GoodFellas (also known as Goodfellas and Wise Guy), Warner Bros., 1990.

Ulysses, A Shock to the System, Corsair, 1990.

Gator Purify, Jungle Fever, Universal, 1991.

(As Sam Jackson) Monroe, Strictly Business (also known as Go Natalie, Go Beverly), Warner Bros., 1991.

B–Bop, Johnny Suede, Miramax, 1992.

Greg Meeker, White Sands, Warner Bros., 1992.

Lieutenant commander Robby Jackson, Patriot Games, Paramount, 1992.

Marshall, Fathers & Sons, Pacific Pictures, 1992.

Mr. Simpson, Jumping at the Boneyard, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1992.

Trip, Juice (also known as Angel Town 2), Paramount, 1992.

Andrew Sterling, Amos & Andrew, Columbia, 1993.

Big Don, True Romance (also known as Breakaway), Warner Bros., 1993.

(As Sam Jackson) Dre, The Meteor Man, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1993.

Ray Arnold, Jurassic Park (also known as JP), Universal, 1993.

Sergeant Wes Luger, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (also known as Loaded Weapon 1), New Line Cinema, 1993.

Tat Lawson, Menace II Society, New Line Cinema, 1993.

Dale Deveaux, The New Age, Warner Bros., 1994.

Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction, Miramax, 1994.

Mail carrier, Hail Caesar, Trimark Pictures, 1994.

Sam, Fresh, Miramax, 1994.

Calvin Hart, Kiss of Death, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1995.

Kadar Lewis, Losing Isaiah, Paramount, 1995.

(As Sam Jackson) Narrator, To Be a Black Man (documentary short film), NDG Ideas, 1995.

Voice of Rumbo, Fluke, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1995.

Zeus Carver, Die Hard: With a Vengeance (also known as Die Hard 3 and Simon Says), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1995.

Carl Lee Hailey, A Time to Kill, Warner Bros., 1996.

Colonel Ron, The Search for One–Eye Jimmy, Northern Arts Entertainment, 1996.

Jimmy, Hard Eight (also known as Sydney), Samuel Goldwyn, 1996.

Mitch Hennessey, The Long Kiss Goodnight, New Line Cinema, 1996.

Reverend Fred Sultan, The Great White Hype, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1996.

Wendell, Trees Lounge, Orion Classics, 1996.

Dr. Harry Adams, Sphere, Warner Bros., 1997.

Dr. Louis Batiste, Eve's Bayou, Trimark Pictures, 1997.

Ordell Robbie, Jackie Brown (also known as Rum Punch), Miramax, 1997.

Trevor Garfield, 187 (also known as One Eight Seven), Warner Bros., 1997.

(Uncredited) Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's, Northern Arts Entertainment, 1997.

(In archive footage) You're Still Not Fooling Anybody, 1997.

Charles Morritz, The Red Violin (also known as Il violino rosso and Le violon rouge), New Line Cinema, 1998.

(Uncredited) Hejira Henry, Out of Sight, Universal, 1998.

Lieutenant Danny Roman, The Negotiator (also known as Verhandlungssache), Warner Bros., 1998.

Mace Windu, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (also known as The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1999.

Russell Franklin, Deep Blue Sea, Warner Bros., 1999, also appeared in audio commentary for DVD.

Voice of Turner, Our Friend, Martin (live action and animated), Twentieth Century–Fox Home Entertainment, 1999.

Forever Hollywood (short documentary film), 1999.

Colonel Terry L. Childers, Rules of Engagement (also known as Les regles d'engagement and Rules—Sekunden der Entscheidung), Paramount, 2000.

Elijah Price, Unbreakable, Buena Vista, 2000.

John Shaft (title role), Shaft (also known as Shaft—Noch Fragen?), Paramount, 2000.

Willie Nutter, Any Given Wednesday, Buena Vista, 2000.

Romulus Ledbetter, The Caveman's Valentine (also known as The Sign of the Killer), MCA/Universal, 2001.

Agent Augustus Gibbons, XXX (also known as Triple X), Columbia, 2002.

Doyle Gipson, Changing Lanes, Paramount, 2002.

Elmo McElroy, The 51st State (also known as Formula 51 and Formule 51), Screen Gems, 2002.

Jack Friar, The House on Turk Street (also known as No Good Deed), Mac Releasing, 2002.

Mace Windu, Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (also known as Star Wars II and Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones; also released as Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience), Twentieth Century–Fox, 2002.

The Comeback, 2002.

Sergeant Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, S.W.A.T., Columbia, 2003.

Sergeant Nathan West, Basic (also known as Formation extreme), Columbia, 2003.

Coach Ken Carter, Coach Carter, Paramount, 2004.

John Mills, Twisted (also known as Blackout), Paramount, 2004.

Langston Whitfield, Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa (also known as Country of My Skull and In My Country), Sony Pictures Classics, 2004.

Rufus, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (also known as Kill Bill and Vol. 2), Miramax, 2004.

Voice of Lucius Best/Frozone, The Incredibles (animated), Buena Vista/Walt Disney, 2004.

Agent Augustus Gibbons, XXX: State of the Union, Columbia, 2005.

Coach Ken Carter (title role), Coach Carter (also known as All Day Long), Paramount, 2005.

Lorenzo Council, Freedomland, Paramount, 2005.

Mace Windu, Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (also known as Star Wars: Episode III), Twentieth Century–Fox, 2005.

Vann, The Man, New Line Cinema, 2005.

The Namesake, Miramax, 2006.

Film Executive Producer:

The Caveman's Valentine (also known as The Sign of the Killer), MCA/Universal, 2001.

The 51st State (also known as Formula 51 and Formule 51), Screen Gems, 2002.

Film Producer:

Eve's Bayou, Trimark Pictures, 1997.

Film Work; Other:

Automated dialog replacement voice, Mystery Train, Orion, 1989.

Television Appearances; Documentary Miniseries:

Voice, Jazz, PBS, 2001.

America beyond the Color Line with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., PBS, 2002.

Voice of Jack Johnson, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, PBS, 2005.

Television Appearances; Movies:

(As Samuel Jackson) George Harris, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Showtime, 1987.

Calvin Fredericks, Dead Man Out (also known as Dead Man Walking), HBO, 1989.

Reverend Bob McClain, Common Ground, CBS, 1990.

Hatcher, Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace (also known as Dead and Alive, In the Line of Duty: Mob Justice, and Mob Justice), ABC, 1991.

The steward, "Simple Justice," The American Experience, PBS, 1993.

Jamaal, Against the Wall (also known as Attica! Attica! and Attica: Line of Fire), HBO, 1994.

Richard Greener, Assault at West Point (also known as Assault at West Point: The Court–Martial of Johnson Whittaker and Conduct Unbecoming: The Court–Martial of Johnson Whittaker), Showtime, 1994.

Himself, Coaching the Minors, ESPN, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

"The Displaced Person," American Short Story, PBS, 1976.

"The Trial of the Moke," Great Performances, PBS, 1978.

Making "Do the Right Thing," 1989.

The janitor, Spike & Co: Do It a Cappella, PBS, 1990.

Robby Jackson, The Secret World of Spying, 1992.

Quentin Tarantino: Hollywood's Boy Wonder, BBC, 1994.

Inside the Academy Awards, TNT, 1995.

Narrator, The Journey of the African–American Athlete, HBO, 1996.

AFI's 100 Years … 100 Movies, CBS, 1998.

(In archive footage) Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory, 1998.

Host, From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of Industrial Light & Magic, Fox, 1999.

Panelist, 9 Movie Moments that Made the '90s, MTV, 1999.

Himself, The Fine Art of Separating People from Their Money, Bravo, 1999.

An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence Benefitting the United Negro College Fund, syndicated, 1999.

Narrator, Opening the Tombs of the Golden Mummies Live, Fox, 2000.

Himself, AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart–Pounding Movies, CBS, 2001.

Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, CBS, 2001.

(Uncredited) R2–D2: Beneath the Dome, 2001.

Host, Middle School Confessions, HBO Family Channel, 2002.

(In archive footage) Lieutenant commander Robby Jackson, Patriot Games: Up Close, 2002.

Presenter, Muhammad Ali's All–Star 60th Birthday Celebration!, CBS, 2002.

Reader, Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives, HBO, 2003.

Soul Man: Isaac Hayes, 2003.

Himself, The N–Word, Trio, 2004.

Hollywood Legenden, 2004.

John Travolta: The Inside Story, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 16th Annual CableACE Awards, TNT, 1995.

Presenter, The 67th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1995.

The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg (also known as The American Film Institute Life Achievement Award), NBC, 1995.

Presenter, The 1997 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1997.

Host, The 1998 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1998.

Presenter, The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.

Host, The 1999 ESPY Awards, ESPN, 1999.

Presenter, The VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, VH1, 1999.

The 1999 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1999.

Presenter, The First Annual Laureus Sports Awards, TNT, 2000.

Presenter, 2000 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2000.

Presenter, The 72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 2000.

2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.

Host, The 2001 ESPY Awards, ESPN, 2001.

Brit Awards 2001, 2001.

The 73rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2001.

The 2001 Essence Awards, Fox, 2001.

The 2001 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2001.

Host, ESPY Awards (also known as The 2002 ESPY Awards), ESPN, 2002.

Host, Hollywood Salutes Nicolas Cage: An American Cinematheque Tribute, TNT, 2002.

Presenter, AFI Awards 2001, CBS, 2002.

The 74th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2002.

Presenter, The 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2003.

Himself, E! Entertainer of the Year 2003, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

The 2003 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2003.

Presenter, The 46th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 2004.

Presenter and narrator, The 2004 ESPY Awards (also known as The 12th Annual ESPY Awards), ESPN, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Movin' On, NBC, 1974.

Leroy Clancy, "White Knight," Spenser: For Hire, ABC, 1986.

Ned, "My Enemy, My Friend," Spenser: For Hire, ABC, 1987.

Brother Elvis, "Here's Why You Should Always Make Your Bed in the Morning," The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, NBC and Lifetime, 1989.

"Intensive Care," A Man Called Hawk, ABC, 1989.

Lawrence "Larry" (some sources cite Lenny) Melrose, "Hearts and Diamonds," Roc, Fox, 1991.

Louis Taggart, "The Violence of Summer," Law & Order, NBC, 1991.

Reggie Jenkins, "Ghost Story: Part 1," Ghostwriter, PBS, 1992.

Reggie Jenkins, "Who Burned Mr. Brinker's Store?: Part 1," Ghostwriter, PBS, 1992.

Walter, "Since Walter," I'll Fly Away, NBC, 1992.

Guest, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, multiple appearances, between 1994 and 2003.

Voice of the mayor, "The Pied Piper," Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (animated), HBO, 1995.

Guest, TFI Friday, 1996.

Guest, "The Police," Dennis Miller Live, HBO, 1997.

Guest, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, ABC, 1997.

Himself, "Club Sandwiches Are Not Seals," Road Rules, MTV, 1998.

Guest, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1998.

Guest host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1998.

Himself, "Samuel L. Jackson," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

Himself, Intimate Portrait: Pam Grier, Lifetime, 1999.

Guest, The Howard Stern Show, E! Entertainment Television, 2000.

(Uncredited) John Shaft, WWF Smackdown!, UPN, 2000.

Himself, "Giorgio Armani: Deconstructing Fashion," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Himself, "Reginald Veljohnson: His Family Matters," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Guest, The Big Breakfast, Channel 4, 2001.

Guest, Parkinson, BBC, 2001.

Voice of Angel Joseph, "Seven Days of Kwanzaa," The Proud Family (animated), The Disney Channel, 2001.

Guest, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

David, "Camp Nowhere," The Nightmare Room, 2002.

Guest, "25 Toughest Stars," Rank, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.

Guest, The Frank Skinner Show, Independent Television, 2002.

Guest, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 2002.

Guest, Richard and Judy, Channel 4, 2002.

Guest, V Graham Norton, Channel 4, 2002.

Guest, The View, ABC, 2002.

Guest, Total Request Live (also known as Total Request and TRL), MTV, 2002 and 2004.

Himself, "John Travolta," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2003.

Himself, "Snoop Hangs with S.W.A.T.," Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, MTV, 2003.

Guest, "John Travolta," Revealed with Jules Asner, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Guest, Banzai, Fox, 2003.

Guest, Film 03, BBC, 2003.

Guest, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, BBC, 2003.

Guest, Tinseltotwn TV, 2003.

(In archive footage) Celebrities Uncensored, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Guest, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (also known as The Daily Show), Comedy Central, 2004.

Guest, Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show (also known as Ellen and The Ellen DeGeneres Show), syndicated, 2004.

Guest, Film 04, BBC, 2004.

Guest, GMTV, Independent Television, 2004.

Guest, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2004.

Voice, Coming Attractions, multiple episodes, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Appeared in episodes of E! Celebrity Profile (also known as Celebrity Profile), E! Entertainment Television; The Entertainment Business, Bravo; Golf 2000 with Peter Jacobsen, syndicated; and Movie House (also known as MTV's Movie House), MTV.

Television Appearances; Other:

Voice of fear, 2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey (animated), 2004.

Stage Appearances:

Lucky, Mobile Theatre: The Mighty Gents, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, New York City, 1979.

Sergeant, Kiowa man, soldier, Klansman, and other roles, Mother Courage and Her Children, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Estelle R. Newman Theatre, New York City, 1980.

Cephus, Home, Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre Four, New York City, 1981.

Private Louis Henson, A Soldier's Play, Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre Four, between 1981 and 1983.

Ohio Tip–Off, Center Stage Theatre, Baltimore, MD, 1983.

Native Speech, Center Stage Theatre, 1984.

Actor 7, The District Line, Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre Four, 1984–1985.

Lyons, Fences, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle, WA, 1985.

Boy Willie, The Piano Lesson, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1987.

Sergeant Prince Logan, We: Part I–Sally/Part II–Prince, Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre Four, 1988.

Wolf, Two Trains Running, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1989.

Burners Frolic, Negro Ensemble Company, 1990.

Jonquil, Negro Ensemble Company, 1990.

Distant Fires, Coast Playhouse, Los Angeles, 1993.

Appeared as the title role in Othello; appeared in Spell "7, New York Shakespeare Festival, New York City.

Radio Appearances:

Guest, The Howard Stern Radio Show, 2000.

RECORDINGS

Videos:

(Uncredited) All Saints: The First Video, 1998.

The Stars of Star Wars: Interviews from the Cast, IMC Vision, 1999.

The Unauthorized Star Wars Story, Visual Entertainment, 1999.

Host, Comic Books & Superheroes, 2001.

Narrator, The Art of Action: Martial Arts in Motion Picture, Columbia/TriStar, 2002.

Baadasssss Cinema, New Video Group, 2002.

Jackie Brown: How It Went Down, Miramax Home Entertainment, 2002.

The Making of "Changing Lanes" (also known as Behind the Scenes of "Changing Lanes"), 2002.

Pulp Fiction: The Facts, Miramax Home Entertainment, 2002.

XXX: A Filmmakers Diary, Columbia, 2003.

Music Videos:

"911 Is a Joke," by Public Enemy, 1990.

"It's Alright (Send Me)," by Winans Phase 2, 1999.

Video Games:

Officer Frank Tenpenny, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (also known as Grand Theft Auto V, GTA 4, and GTA: San Andreas), Rockstar Games, 2004.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 19, Gale, 1998.

Dils, Tracey E., Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea House, 2000.

Hudson, Jeff, Samuel L. Jackson: The Unauthorised Biography, Virgin Publishing, 2004.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th edition, St. James Press, 2000.

Periodicals:

Details, February, 1996.

Ebony, August, 2003, pp. 170–74.

Empire, Issue 75, 1995, pp. 54–56; October, 1997, p. 196; December, 1998, pp. 90–95.

Entertainment Weekly, June 16, 2000, p. 24.

Essence, May, 2002, pp. 140–43.

Golf, November, 1998, p. 96.

Harper's Bazaar, February, 1993.

Jet, June 7, 1999, p. 54; July 21, 2003, p. 50.

Los Angeles Times Magazine, June 11, 2000, pp. 12–15, 33–36.

Maxim, May, 2002, pp. 120–21.

Newsweek, June 5, 1995.

New York, June 10, 1991.

New York Times, June 9, 1991, p. H16; February 7, 1993, November 2, 1997.

People Weekly, August 17, 1998, p. 110.

Playboy, April, 1995, pp. 120–21, 132–34; June, 1999, pp. 55–68, 168–69.

Premiere, May, 1992; June, 1995, pp. 92–96; June, 2002, pp. 70–71.

Sight and Sound, Volume 6, issue 12, 1996, pp. 7–8.

Sports Illustrated, July 8, 2002, p. 26.

Time Out, September 11, 1996.

Total Film, October, 2000, pp. 36–37.

Variety, August 28, 2000, p. F22.

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Jackson, Samuel L.

Samuel L. Jackson

1948—

Actor

"I never get tired of acting because I have a passion for it," Samuel L. Jackson declared to Paul B. Cohen of the L.A. Village View. "Every time I have an opportunity to do it, I will do it." Despite occasional encounters with the implicit racist attitude of Hollywood, he has managed to get cast "color-blind" more often than many of his black colleagues. His versatility and professionalism have been Jackson's keys to survival. As Phillip Noyce, director of Patriot Games, told the New York Times, "Sam has a remarkable connection with the cinema audience."

Likewise, Jackson is much beloved by those who enjoy live drama. Unlike film work—which tends to offer little immediate reward for the actor—Jackson has acknowledged to Cohen that "theater is such a healthy exchange of energy between the audience and the actors." He added that he can sense audience members "sitting forward, sighing, or getting carried along with the momentum of what we're doing, so it's very invigorating."

Jackson spent years investing that energy in role after role, finally gaining widespread public notice in the early 1990s. His lengthy resume of film appearances consisted mostly of low-profile character parts until his award-winning performance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever in 1991 moved him to the top of casting directors' lists. He went on to appear in increasingly varied features with two goals in mind—stretching his range and returning to stage, the arena in which he got his start.

Hooked on Acting at an Early Age

Jackson was born on December 21, 1948, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his mother, grandparents, and his aunt, who was a schoolteacher. His urge to perform emerged while he was still quite young. "As a kid I loved Treasure Island," he informed Jean Oppenheimer of the L.A. Village View. "My favorite pirate movie was The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster. When I was a kid we played pirates in our neighborhood, not sissy stuff like Captain Hook but serious pirates." He also participated in rowdy neighborhood recreations of favorite westerns, substituting bicycles for the horses. When he was not pretending to be a high sea rogue, he acted in his aunt's school plays. However, he did not seriously participate in the theater world until he was in college.

Jackson attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, but in order to major in theater he had to take all his theater classes at the college's sister school, Spelman. There he met LaTanya Richardson, an actress whom he would later marry; there too, he made his adult performance debut in the darkly satirical Weill-Brecht classic, The Three Penny Opera, making up for his lack of singing acumen with his acting skills. Meanwhile, offstage he was becoming radicalized by the burgeoning black liberation movement of the early 1970s. Student anger at the lack of African American studies and the institution's control by a white governing body caused him to participate in an action that involved locking a few Morehouse trustees—including Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.—in a room until the insurgents' demands were met. For their involvement, Jackson and some of his comrades were briefly suspended.

Focusing on what would soon become his career, Jackson helped start the Just Us theater company in Atlanta, but he and Richardson ultimately left for New York City in 1976. "All I know is, we pulled into [Greenwich] Village at night, and everyone on the street looked really bizarre," Jackson told Michael Angeli of the New York Times. "We were going to live with some friends on Barrow Street. What we didn't realize was that it was Halloween, and we were in the middle of a parade." Though he did not begin his own parade of acting roles until some years later, he did start working in the theater almost immediately.

Theater Work Led to Films

For the next several years, Jackson appeared in various plays. Film work was sometimes offered, as when he appeared in 1981's Ragtime, but it was when he was appearing onstage in A Soldier's Play the same year that he began making real connections. He befriended actor Morgan Freeman, who greatly encouraged him, and met a young film student named Spike Lee, who came backstage to introduce himself. Jackson recollected to the New York Times. "He told me he was a Morehouse alumnus, that he was at NYU [New York University] film school, da-da-da. He was going to, um, be a filmmaker. He said when he started to make films, he would love for me to be in his movies. It was, like, I had my dream, and he had his—a surplus of reality there, you know what I mean?"

Lee's dream came true, and Jackson appeared in several of the writer/director's films, including School Daze in 1988, and the following year's Do the Right Thing. Jackson observed that Lee's tendency to use the same actors in different films lent an esprit de corps to the productions. "Bill Nunn, Giancarlo [Esposito]—we knew each other from Morehouse, where we did plays together. There's something to be said for the ensemble feeling, for getting to know other actors and having a feeling for working with them," Jackson explained to Angeli. "And doing Spike's films, that was the one thing we all had to look forward to every year—knowing we were going to get together again. Same crew, same actors," he continued. Jackson also landed character roles in features by other directors; in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Jackson worked in The Exorcist III, Coming to America, Sea of Love and Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. But Lee was the creative force behind the film that made Jackson's reputation, Jungle Fever.

At a Glance …

Born December 21, 1948, in Chattanooga, TN; married LaTanya Richardson, an actress, c. 1981; children: Zoe. Education: Received Dramatic Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, 1972.

Career : Actor, 1972-.

Awards : Cannes Film Festival, Best Supporting Actor, and New York Film Critics award, for Jungle Fever, 1991; BAFTA (British Academy) Film Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Pulp Fiction, 1995; Independent Spirit Awards, 1995, 1998; Image Award, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, for A Time to Kill, 1997; Berlin International Film Festival, Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actor, for Jackie Brown, 1998; Acapulco Black Film Festival, Black Film Award, 1998; Acapulco Black Film Festival, Career Achievement Award, 1999; Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Man of the Year, 1999; star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2000; Image Award, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, for Coach Carter, 2006.

Addresses: Agent—c/o International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211; c/o Addis-Weschler & Associates, 5 South Carillo, #300, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

In that 1991 production, Jackson played Gator, the crack-addicted brother of Flipper Purify, played by Wesley Snipes. This character hit home because Jackson himself was a recovering crack addict. He brought an explosive charisma and unpredictability to the portrayal; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called him "a blistering actor in an unforgettable role." When the film debuted at the Cannes film festival, the judges named Jackson the best supporting actor. The award was a double honor because the Cannes judging had never before extended to that category. Besides winning at Cannes, Jackson also received a New York Film Critics award.

A few months after Jungle Fever's release, Jackson was surprised to find that his increased visibility and all the acclaim made some filmmakers think he was unavailable except at high salaries. He emphasized to Williams that he was "not out of anyone's range yet." Nonetheless, he proceeded to take small roles in such offbeat films as Juice and True Romance, among others. When Jackson was sent the script for the thriller White Sands, he assumed he was being considered for the part of the villain—a role eventually bagged by Mickey Rourke.

"Then they call me back and say no, you're Meeker, the FBI agent. What? I had to go back and read it again," Jackson admitted to Premiere's Veronica Chambers. "And I like the guy [Meeker] a lot. He's not obviously bad or obviously good. It was a stretch from Gator to that character. And I really would like to display the fact that I have that range." The film's director, Roger Donaldson, praised Jackson to Chambers, saying "He's got enormous resources as an actor. He's extremely talented technically. Sam can do something one take, then go back and build on it. He's spontaneous, but he's well trained…. And he's a nice guy."

Expanded His Range

Hollywood did not need to be persuaded about Jackson's willingness to take on different genres. He shared above-the-title billing in two broad comedies, Amos & Andrew and National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I. Unfortunately, critics trashed both 1993 films. Entertainment Weekly's review of Amos & Andrew, for example, consisted largely of career advice for the actor. Their reviewer wondered, "did Samuel L. Jackson really have to follow up his mesmerizing, out-on-the-edge performance as a homeless crack addict [in Jungle Fever] with National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I and the imbecilic mistaken-identity farce Amos & Andrew?" The unequivocal pan concluded by urging the actor to "call your agent—and fire him."

Despite such misfires, Jackson continued working regularly in the 1990s, appearing as a technician in the box-office hit Jurassic Park—one of the top-selling movies of all time—as one of Harrison Ford's allies in Patriot Games, and in an ensemble role in Menace II Society.Patriot Games director Noyce told the New York Times that Jackson, despite having his performance severely edited, "made so much out of so little that the audience imagined he had a greater participation than he actually did."

In 1994, Jackson was cast as a killer in writer-director Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, an ultraviolent thriller boasting what Jackson described to Cohen as "one of the best scripts I've read in a couple of years." The plumb role contained "four to five page [long] speeches…and that's something you don't normally do in a film," though he had done so on stage. Jackson had earlier appeared in such prestigious New York productions as August Wilson's two acclaimed pieces, The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running. His appreciation for the dialogues Wilson had written was obvious. Speaking to Cohen, Jackson reflected, "August writes three-hour plays, and when I was doing Piano Lesson—I was the original [protagonist] Boy Willie before [actor] Charles Dutton did it—that character talks for about two hours and ten minutes in a three-hour play…."

Despite the plethora of motion picture work he obtained in the 1990s, Jackson pined to appear onstage again. Once he did, he was pleasantly surprised to find a new environment in regards to many playwrights. In a New York Times interview, Jackson observed that "the black acting community is relatively small. Especially in New York theater. The funny thing is that when they used to cast black roles, everybody from age 20 to 50 was called because they had no idea what kind of black person they wanted for the role. That kind of let you know that they sort of didn't have a clue as to who these people are."

Though Jackson assumed he would have to maintain himself in New York City for theatrical roles, he was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to be in the 1993 working-class play Distant Fires in Los Angeles. "Everybody's very concerned about the production as a whole and not about their own performances," he enthused to Cohen. He similarly told Premiere's Chambers "I always want to get back to theater to make sure that I'm still an actor. You have to convince people who are actually sitting there looking at you that you're doing what you're doing, without all the trappings of reality around you."

Action Movies and Beyond

Despite his love for the stage, Jackson has spent his career since the 1990s appearing in films…dozens and dozens of films. Jackson's ability to take on all kinds of roles with equal credibility, from hero to villain, from star to supporting actor, made it easy for him to find work. The majority of that work has been in action-packed drama. He teamed up with fellow Pulp Fiction star Bruce Willis in Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995), played Carl Lee Hailey, the father who murdered two white rednecks who brutally raped his daughter in A Time To Kill (1996), and he teamed up again with Quentin Tarantino in Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of author Elmore Leonard's book, Rum Punch.

Jackson's run of action dramas continued well into the 2000s. In 2002, Jackson added to his action movie resume when he took the role of Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones, and reprised the role Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005). Other notable films of the 2000s included XXX (2002) and its sequel XXX: State of the Union (2005), and S.W.A.T. (2003.), an update of the 1970s television series of the same name which quickly became a box-office hit. Perhaps the most notorious of his recent pics was Snakes on a Plane (2006), a movie about poisonous snakes loose on a plane which Jackson reportedly committed to solely on the outrageous nature of movie title. When movie producers threatened to change the name to the innocuous Pacific Air 121, Jackson joined outraged internet fans lobbying to keep the movie's title—and its gratuitous violence. The movie was a huge hit.

Jackson's range has always extended beyond action movies, however. In 1997, he starred and co-produced Eve's Bayou. The independent film won raves from critics and encouraged Jackson to take on other production roles, as he did with The 51st State (2001) and Cleaner (2007). Jackson also played a prominent role in The Red Violin, a serious Canadian film that explored the 300-year history of a finely crafted instrument and the impact it had on the lives of those who owned it. In a very different vein, Jackson gave voice to Lucius Best, a man who becomes the superhero Frozone in the Disney animated feature The Incredibles (2004). Jackson took on the title role in Coach Carter (2005), the inspirational story of a high school basketball coach who insists that his players develop academic abilities to match their basketball prowess. In 2007, Jackson appeared in another sports-related, based-in-fact story, Resurrecting the Champ, when he played a homeless man who is rescued by a reporter (played by Josh Hartnett)—and turns out to be a former boxing champion who was thought to have died.

Entering his seventh decade, Jackson must be acknowledged as one of the most popular actors of the late twentieth century. In 2005, he had appeared in films whose gross receipts topped $30 billion, making him the highest grossing actor of all times, topping Harrison Ford. In 2000, he became 191st actor, and the seventh African American, to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For Jackson, however, the big thrill still remains the work of acting. He told a Time reporter that he goes to see every one of his films in a regular theater, sitting as an anonymous member of the audience. He noted, "Even during my theater years, I wished I could watch the plays I was in—while I was in them. I dig watching myself work." He also collects action figures of the characters he has portrayed in films.

Selected works

Films

Together for Days, 1972.

Ragtime, 1981.

Raw, 1987.

School Daze, 1988.

Sea of Love, 1989.

Do the Right Thing, 1989.

Mo' Better Blues, 1990.

Def by Temptation, 1990.

Goodfellas, 1991.

Jungle Fever, 1991.

Jumpin' at the Boneyard, 1992.

White Sands, 1992.

Patriot Games, 1992.

True Romance, 1993.

Menace II Society, 1993.

National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I, 1993.

Amos & Andrew, 1993.

Jurassic Park, 1993.

Against the Wall, 1994.

Assault at West Point: The Court Martial of Johnson Whittaker, 1994.

Fresh, 1994.

Pulp Fiction, 1994.

Kiss of Death, 1995.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance, 1995.

Losing Isaiah, 1995.

A Time To Kill, 1996.

The Long Kiss Goodnight, 1997.

(And producer) Eve's Bayou, 1997.

187, 1997.

Jackie Brown, 1997.

Sphere, 1998.

The Negotiator, 1998.

The Red Violin, 1998.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, 1999.

Deep Blue Sea, 1999.

Shaft, 2000.

Rules of Engagement, 2000.

Any Given Wednesday, 2000.

Unbreakable, 2000.

Changing Lanes, 2001.

The 51st State, 2001.

The Caveman's Valentine, 2001.

XXX, 2002.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, 2002.

S.W.A.T., 2003.

The Incredibles, 2004.

Twisted, 2004.

In My Country, 2004.

Coach Carter, 2005.

XXX: State of the Union, 2005.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, 2005.

The Man, 2005.

Freedomland, 2006.

Snakes on a Plane, 2006.

Home of the Brave, 2006.

Black Snake Moan, 2006.

Resurrecting the Champ, 2007.

1408, 2007.

Cleaner, 2007.

Lakeview Terrace, forthcoming.

Jumper, forthcoming.

Iron Man, forthcoming.

The Spirit, forthcoming.

Plays

Mobile Theatre: The Mighty Gents, 1979.

Mother Courage and Her Children, 1980.

Home, 1981.

A Soldier's Play, 1981-83.

Ohio Tip-Off, 1983.

Native Speech, 1984.

The District Line, 1984-85.

Fences, 1985.

The Piano Lesson, 1987.

We: Part I-Sally/Part II-Prince, 1988.

Two Trains Running, 1989.

Burners Frolic, 1990.

Jonquil, 1990.

Distant Fires, 1993.

Television

The Displaced Person, 1977.

The Trial of the Moke, 1978.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1987.

Dead Man Out, 1989.

Also appeared as guest star and as himself in numerous television episodes.

Sources

Books

Dils, Tracey E., Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea House, 2000.

Hudson, Jeff, Samuel L. Jackson: The Unauthorised Biography, Virgin Publishing, 2004.

Pendergast, Sara, and Tom Pendergast, eds., International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.

Periodicals

Ebony, March 2006.

Entertainment Weekly, March 5, 1993, p. 42; February 18, 1994, pp. 102-3; November 25, 1994; March 5, 2004, p. 48; May 13, 2005, p. 64; September 23, 2005, p. 67.

Essence, April 1992, p. 48; May 1, 2002.

Interview, April 1992, p. 50.

Jet, March 9, 1998, p. 36; August 18, 2003, p. 60; January 17, 2005, p. 54; October 24, 2005, p. 48.

L.A. Village View, February 12, 1993, 11; December 3, 1993.

Los Angeles Times Magazine, June 11, 2000, pp. 12-15, 33-36.

New York Times, June 9, 1991; February 7, 1993; November 2, 1997.

People, January 24, 2005, p. 31; March 28, 2005, p. 30; September 19, 2005, p. 37.

Premiere, May 1992, p. 57; June 2002, pp. 70-71.

Rolling Stone, June 27, 1991, 75-76.

Sight and Sound, vol. 6, no. 12, 1996, pp. 7-8; November 2005, p. 68.

Time, August 14, 2006.

On-line

Samuel L. Jackson,www.samuelljackson.com (August 31, 2007).

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Jackson, Samuel L. 1948–

Samuel L. Jackson 1948

Actor

At a Glance

Trustees a Captive Audience

Worked With Lee

Call Your Agent

Back to the Stage

Back to Hollywood

Teamed Up Again With Tarantino

Sources

I never get tired of acting because I have a passion for it, Samuel Jackson declared to Paul B. Cohen of the L.A. Village View. Every time I have an opportunity to do it, I will do it. Despite occasional encounters with the implicit racist attitude of Hollywood, he has managed to get cast color-blind more often than many of his black colleagues. His versatility and professionalism have been Jacksons keys to survival. As Phillip Noyce, director of Patriot Games, told the New York Times, Sam has a remarkable connection with the cinema audience.

Likewise, Jackson is much beloved by those who enjoy live drama. Unlike film workwhich tends to offer little immediate reward for the actorJackson has acknowledged to Cohen that theater is such a healthy exchange of energy between the audience and the actors. He added that he can sense audience members sitting forward, sighing, or getting carried along with the momentum of what were doing, so its very invigorating.

Jackson spent years reinvesting that energy in role after role, until finally erupting into widespread public notice in the late 1980s. Before then, his lengthy résumé of film appearances consisted mostly of lowprofile character parts until his award-winning performance in Spike Lees Jungle Fever moved him to the top of casting directors lists. He went on to appear in increasingly varied features with two goals in mindstretching his range and returning to stage, the arena in which he got his start.

Jackson grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his mother, grandparents, and his aunt, who was a schoolteacher. His urge to perform emerged while he was still quite young. As a kid I loved Treasure Island, he informed Jean Oppenheimer of the L.A. Village View. My favorite pirate movie was The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster. When I was a kid we played pirates in our neighborhood, not sissy stuff like Captain Hook but serious pirates. He also participated in rowdy neighborhood recreations of favorite westerns, substituting bicycles for the horses. When he was not pretending to be a high sea rogue, he acted in his aunts school plays. However, he did not seriously participate in the theater

At a Glance

Born December 21, 1948 in Chattanooga, TN. Married LaTanya Richardson, an actress, c. 1981; daughter, Zoe. Education: Received Dramatic Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, 1972.

Carreer: Cofounded just Us theater company and member of Negro Ensemble Company, Atlanta, c. 1970s; appeared in New York stage productions, including A Soldiers Play, 1981; The Piano Lesson, 1987; Sally/Prince, 1989; The District Line, 1990; Two Trains Running, 1990; and Home. Appeared in Seattle Repertory production of Fences; appeared in Coast Playhouse, Los Angeles production of Distant Fires, 1993. Made film debut in Together for Days; appeared in numerous films, including Ragtime, 1981; Raw, 1987; School Daze, 1988; Sea of Love, 1989; Do the Right Thing, 1989; Mo Better Blues, 1990; Def by Temptation, 1990; Goodfellas, 1991;Jungle Fever, 1991; Jumpin at the Boneyard, 1992; White Sands, 1992; Patriot Games, 1992; True Romance, 1993; Menace II Society, 1993; National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I, 1993; Amos & Andrew, 1993; Jurassic Park, 1993; Against the Wall, 1994; Assault at West Point:The Court Martial of Johnson Whittaker, 1994; Fresh, 1994; Pulp Fiction, 1994; Kiss of Death, 1995; Die Hard: With A Vengeance, 1995; Losing Isaiah, 1995; A Time To Kill, 1996; The Long Kiss Goodnight, 1997; Eves Bayou, 1997; 187, 1997; Jackie Brown, 1997; Sphere, 1998; The Negotiator, 1998; The Red Violin, 1998.

Awards: Best Supporting Actor award at Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Critics award for Jungle Fever, 1991; Academy Award, Best Supporting Actor, nominated for Pulp Fiction, 1995.

Addresses: Home San Fernando Valley, CA. AgencyInternational Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

world until he was in college.

Trustees a Captive Audience

Jackson attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, but in order to major in theater he had to take all his theater classes at the colleges sister school, Spelman. There he met LaTanya Richardson, an actress whom he would later marry; there too, he made his adult performance debut in the darkly satirical Weill-Brecht classic, The Three Penny Opera, making up for his lack of singing acumen with his acting skills. Meanwhile, offstage was becoming radicalized by the burgeoning black liberation movement of the early 1970s. Student anger at the lack of African American studies and the institutions control by a white governing body caused him to participate in an action that involved locking a few Morehouse trusteesincluding Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.in a room until the insurgents demands were met. For having had a hand in things, Jackson and some of his comrades, were suspended but later reinstated.

Focusing on what would soon become his career, Jackson helped start the Just Us theater company in Atlanta, but he and Richardson ultimately left for New York City in 1976. All I know is, we pulled into [Greenwich] Village at night, and everyone on the street looked really bizarre, Jackson told Michael Angeli of the New York Times. We were going to live with some friends on Barrow Street. What we didnt realize was that it was Halloween, and we were in the middle of a parade. Though he did not begin his own parade of acting roles until some years later, he did start working in the theater almost immediately.

For the next several years, Jackson appeared in various plays. Film work was sometimes offered, as when he appeared in 1981s Ragtime, but it was when he was appearing onstage in A Soldiers Play the same year that he began making real connections. He first met fellow African American actor Morgan Freeman, who greatly encouraged him, then a young film student named Spike Lee. Lee came backstage to introduce himself. Jackson recollected to the New York Times. He told me he was a Morehouse alumnus, that he was at NYU [New York University] film school, da-da-da. He was going to, um, be a filmmaker. He said when he started to make films, he would love for me to be in his movies. It was, like, I had my dream, and he had hisa surplus of reality there, you know what I mean?

Worked With Lee

Lees dream came true, and Jackson appeared in several of the writer/directors films, including School Daze in 1988, and the following years Do the Right Thing. Jackson observed that Lees tendency to use the same actors in different films lent an esprit de corps to the productions. Bill Nunn, Giancarlo [Esposito]we knew each other from Morehouse, where we did plays together. Theres something to be said for the ensemble feeling, for getting to know other actors and having a feeling for working with them, Jackson explained to Angeli. And doing Spikes films, that was the one thing we all had to look forward to every yearknowing we were going to get together again. Same crew, same actors, he continued. Jackson also landed character roles in features by other directors; in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Jackson worked in The Exorcist III, Coming to America, Sea of Love and Martin Scorseses Goodfellas. But Lee was the creative force behind the film that made Jacksons reputation, Jungle Fever.

In that 1991 production, Jackson played Gator, the crack-addicted brother of Flipper Purify, played by Wesley Snipes. This character hit home because Jackson himself was a recovering crack addict. He brought an explosive charisma and unpredictability to the portrayal; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called him a blistering actor in an unforgettable role. When the film debuted at the Cannes film festival, the judges named Jackson the best supporting actor. The award was a double honor because the Cannes judging had never before extended to that category, but Jacksons performance left an indelible mark on those who would rate him. Besides winning at that prestigious affair, he also received a New York Film Critics award. Jackson even won over the toughest critic of allhimself. Perhaps the greatest satisfaction accorded by the showing was that for once, as he told Lena Williams of the New York Times, I dont want to go back and fix it.

A few months after Jungle Fevers release, Jackson was surprised to find that his increased visibility and all the acclaim made some filmmakers think he was unavailable except at high salaries. He emphasized to Williams that he was not out of anyones range yet. Nonetheless, he proceeded to take small roles in such offbeat films as Juice and True Romance, among others. When Jackson was sent the script for the thriller White Sands, he assumed he was being considered for the part of the villaina role eventually bagged by Mickey Rourke.

Then they call me back and say no, youre Meeker, the FBI agent. What? I had to go back and read it again, Jackson admitted to Premieres Veronica Chambers. And I like the guy [Meeker] a lot. Hes not obviously bad or obviously good. It was a stretch from Gator to that character. And I really would like to display the fact that I have that range. The films director, Roger Donaldson, praised Jackson to Chambers, saying Hes got enormous resources as an actor. Hes extremely talented technically. Sam can do something one take, then go back and build on it. Hes spontaneous, but hes well trained. And hes a nice guy.

Call Your Agent

Hollywood did not need to be heavily persuaded about Jacksons willingness to take on different genres. He shared above-the-title billing in two broad comedies, Amos & Andrew and National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I. Unfortunately, critics trashed both 1993 films. Entertainment Weeklys review of the Amos & Andrew, for example, consisted largely of career advice for the actor. Their reviewer wondered, did Samuel L. Jackson really have to follow up his mesmerizing, out-on-the-edge performance as a homeless crack addict [in Jungle Fever] with National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I and the imbecilic mistaken-identity farce Amos & Andrew? The unequivocal pan concluded by urging the actor to call your agentand fire him.

Despite such misfires, Jackson continued working regularly in the 1990s, appearing as a technician in the box-office hit Jurassic Park also one of the top-selling movies of all timeas one of Harrison Fords allies in Patriot Games, and in an ensemble role in Menace II Society. Patriot Games director Noyce told the New York Times that Jackson, despite having his performance severely edited, made so much out of so little that the audience imagined he had a greater participation than he actually did.

In 1994, Jackson was cast as a killer in writer-director Quentin Tarantinos Pulp Fiction, an ultraviolent thriller boasting what Jackson described to Cohen as one of the best scripts Ive read in a couple of years. The plumb role contained four to five page [long] speeches and thats something you dont normally do in a film, though he had done so on stage. Jackson had earlier appeared in such prestigious New York productions as August Wilsons two acclaimed pieces, The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running. His appreciation for the dialogues Wilson had written was obvious. Speaking to Cohen, Jackson reflected, August writes three-hour plays, and when I was doing Piano Lesson I was the original [protagonist] Boy Willie before [actor] Charles Dutton did itthat character talks for about two hours and ten minutes in a three-hour play.

Back to the Stage

Despite the plethora of motion picture work he obtained in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jackson pined to appear onstage again. Once he did, he was pleasantly surprised to find a new environment in regards to many playwrights. In a New York Times interview, Jackson observed that the black acting community is relatively small. Especially in New York theater. The funny thing is that when they used to cast black roles, everybody from age 20 to 50 was called because they had no idea what kind of black person they wanted for the role. That kind of let you know that they sort of didnt have a clue as to who these people are.

Though Jackson assumed he would have to maintain himself in New York City for theatrical roles, he was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to be in the 1993 working-class play Distant Fires in Los Angeles. Everybodys very concerned about the production as a whole and not about their own performances, he enthused to Cohen. He similarly told Premieres Chambers Ialways want to get back to theater to make sure that Im still an actor. You have to convince people who are actually sitting there looking at you that youre doing what youre doing, without all the trappings of reality around you.

Back to Hollywood

Jacksons time on stage was short-lived because Hollywood continued to beckon. Since Jungle Fever, he has been in over 30 films. Jackson teamed up with fellow Pulp Fiction star Bruce Willis in Die Hard: With A Vengeance, the third installment of the Die Hard films. He also portrayed Carl Lee Hailey, the father who murdered two white rednecks who brutally raped his daughter in A Time To Kill, a film based on the bestseller by John Grisham.

Jackson has also appeared in Fresh, Losing Isaiah with Jessica Lange and Halle Berry, The Long Kiss Goodnight with Geena Davis, The Great White Hype, a satire on the boxing industryhe portrayed a character like boxing promoter Don Kingand U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Snipes. He also took part in Sphere, a thriller, with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone. He told Bruce Fretts of Entertainment Weekly, The closer together your jobs are, the greater the [producers] think your ability is.

Teamed Up Again With Tarantino

Jackson teamed up again with Quentin Tarantino in Jackie Brown, an adaptation of author Elmore Leonards book, Rum Punch, and starring Foxy Brown star, Pam Griera favorite of TarantinoRobert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. This film opened to mixed reviews but Jackson shined in them all. Though not as violent as other Tarantino flicks, Jackie Brown was still offensive to some, especially concerning the use of the N-word in the film. Director Spike Lee took offense, even accusing Tarantino of wanting to be black. Jackson came to Tarantinos defense, quoted in Jet as saying, Black artists think they are the only ones allowed to use the word. Well, thats bull. This film is a wonderful homage to Black exploitation films (of the 1970s). This is a good film. And Spike hasnt made one of those in a few years.

Jackson also starred and co-produced Eves Bayou. Though he hoped the producer title was just ceremonial, it turned out to be real. He told Joe Leydon of MSNBC that once on location, he found that he was the only producer whos really on the set. So, things start to happen. And you have goals every day. The independent film won raves from critics and Jackson is set to produce another film.

Jackson has completed his part in the first installment of the Star Wars prequels. He plays a Jedi Knight. Jackson will also utter that famous line, May the force be with you. Since this is a prequel to the already released Star Wars saga, he is actually the first person to ever say the line. He also appeared in The Negotiator, The Red Violin, and a small-barely noticeable part in Out Of Sight. To sum up his busy year, Jackson was quoted in MSNBC as saying, All I can say is, its been an interesting kind of year for me. I look up one day, and Im standing across from Dustin Hoffman, and I go Wow! And I look up another day, and Im next to Robert DeNiro. And last weekI died and went to heaven. I looked up, and there was Yoda.

Trappings notwithstanding, Jackson admitted to L.A. Village View writer Jean Oppenheimer that he still wants to play a pirate, as well as a gunslinger, as he had done in his neighborhood as a child. Yet he has never lost sight of the practical necessities of his career. Indeed, Samuel Jackson seems, with each new performance, to guarantee a versatility and commitment that never go out of style.

Sources

Entertainment Weekly, March 5, 1993, p. 42; February 18, 1994, pp. 102-3; November 25, 1994.

Essence, April 1992, p. 48.

Interview, April 1992, p. 50.

Jet, March 9, 1998, p. 36.

L.A. Village View, February 12, 1993, 11; December 3, 1993.

New York Times, June 9, 1991; February 7, 1993, section 2, 13-14.

Premiere, May 1992, p. 57.

Rolling Stone, June 27, 1991, 75-6.

Other

Information also obtained online at www.msnbc.com, The Samuel L. Jackson Home Page at http://member.aol.com/gifhack, and www.canoe.ca/JamMoviesArtistE2K/jackson_samuel.html.

Simon Glickman and Ashyia N. Henderson

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Jackson, Samuel L. 1949(?)–

Samuel L. Jackson 1949(?)

Actor

Trustees a Captive Audience

Made Hot by Fever

Call Your Agent

Back to the Stage

Sources

I never get tired of acting because I have a passion for it, Samuel Jackson declared to Paul B. Cohen of the L.A. Village View. Every time I have an opportunity to do it, I will do it. Despite occasional encounters with the implicit racism of Hollywood, he has managed to get cast color-blind more often than many of his black colleagues. His versatility and professionalism have been Jacksons keys to survival. As director Phillip Noycewho worked with the actor on Patriot Games told the New York Times, Sam has a remarkable connection with the cinema audience.

Likewise, Jackson is much beloved by those who enjoy live drama. Unlike film workwhich tends to offer little immediate reward for the actorJackson has acknowledged to Cohen that theater is such a healthy exchange of energy between the audience and the actors. He added that he can sense audience members sitting forward, sighing, or getting carried along with the momentum of what were doing, so its very invigorating.

Jackson spent years reinvesting that energy in role after role, until finally erupting into widespread public notice in the late 1980s. Before then, his lengthy résumé of film appearances consisted mostly of low-profile character parts until his award-winning performance in Spike Lees Jungle Fever moved him to the top of casting directors lists. He went on to appear in increasingly varied features with two goals in mindstretching his range and returning to stage, the arena in which he got his start.

Jackson grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his aunt, who was a schoolteacher. His urge to perform emerged while he was still quite young. As a kid I loved Treasure Island, he informed Jean Oppenheimer of the LA. Village View. My favorite pirate movie was The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster. When I was a kid we played pirates in our neighborhood, not sissy stuff like Captain Hook but serious pirates. He also participated in rowdy neighborhood recreations of favorite westerns, substituting bicycles for the horses. When he wasnt pretending to be a high sea rogue, he acted in his aunts school plays. However, he didnt seriously participate in the theater world until he was in college.

Trustees a Captive Audience

Jackson attended the historically black-oriented Morehouse

At a Glance

Born a 1949; raised in Chattanooga, TN by an aunt (a schoolteacher) and his mother. Married LaTanya Richardson, an actress, c 1981; daughter, Zoe. Education; Received Dramatic Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, c. 1970s.

Cofounded Just Us theater company and member of Negro Ensemble Company, Atlanta, c 1970s; appeared in New York stage productions, including A Soldiers Play, 1981; The Piano Lesson, 1987; Sally/Prince, 1989; The District Line, 1990; Two Trains Running, 1990; and Home. Appeared in Seattle Repertory production of Fences; appeared in Coast Playhouse, Los Angeles production of Distant Fires, Î 993. Made film debut in Together for Days; appeared in numerous films, including Ragtime, 1981; Raw, 1987; School Daze, 1988; Sea of Love, 1989; Do the Right Thing, 1989; Mo Better Blues, 1990; Def by Temptation, 1990; Coodfeilas, 1991; Jungle Fever, 1991; lumpin at the Boneyard, 1992; White Sands, 1992; Patriot Games, 1992; True Romance, 1993; Menace II Society, 1993; National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I, 1993; Amos 8c Andrew, 1993; Jurassic Park 1993; Against the Wall, 1994; Assault at West Point, 1994; The Court Martial of Johnson Whittaker, 1994; Fresh, 1994; and Pulp Fiction, 1994.

Awards; Best Supporting Actor award at Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Critics award for Jungle Fever, 1991.

Addresses: Home Harlem, NY. Agency International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

in Atlanta, Georgia, but in order to major in drama he had to take all his theater classes at the colleges sister school, Spellman. There he met LaTanya Richardson, an actress whom he would later marry; there too, he made his adult performance debut in the darkly satirical Weill-Brecht classic, The Three Penny Opera, making up for his lack of singing acumen with his acting skills. Meanwhile, offstage was becoming radicalized by the burgeoning black liberation movement of the early 1970s. Student anger at the lack of African-American studies and the institutions control by a white governing body caused him to participate in an action that involved locking a few Morehouse trustees in a room until the insurgents demands were met. For having had a hand in things, Jackson and some of his comrades, were suspended but later reinstated.

Focusing on what would soon become his career, Jackson helped start the Just Us theater company in Atlanta, but he and Richardson ultimately left for New York City in 1976. All I know is, we pulled into [Greenwich] Village at night, and everyone on the street looked really bizarre, Jackson told Michael Angeli of the New York Times. We were going to live with some friends on Barrow Street. What we didnt realize was that it was Halloween, and we were in the middle of a parade. Though he didnt begin his own parade of acting roles until some years later, he did start working in theater almost immediately, despite a short stint as a security guard.

For the next several years, Jackson appeared in various plays. Film work was sometimes offered, as when he appeared in 1981s Ragtime, but it was when he was appearing onstage in A Soldiers Play the same year that he began making real connections. He first met fellow African-American actor Morgan Freeman, who greatly encouraged him, then a young film student named Spike Lee. Lee came backstage to introduce himself. Jackson recollected to the New York Times Angeli. He told me he was a Morehouse alumnus, that he was at NYU [New York University] film school, da-da-da. He was going to, um, be a filmmaker. He said when he started to make films, he would love for me to be in his movies. It was, like, I had my dream, and he had hisa surplus of reality there, you know what I mean?

Made Hot by Fever

Lees dream came true, and Jackson appeared in several of the writer/directors films, including School Daze in 1988, and the following years Do the Right Thing. Jackson observed that Lees tendency to use the same actors in different films lent an esprit de corps to the productions. Bill Nunn, Giancarlo [Esposito]we knew each other from Morehouse, where we did plays together. Theres something to be said for the ensemble feeling, for getting to know other actors and having a feeling for working with them, Jackson explained to Angeli. And doing Spikes films, that was the one thing we all had to look forward to every yearknowing we were going to get together again. Same crew, same actors. Jackson also landed character roles in features by other directors; in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Jackson worked in The Exorcist III, Coming to America, Sea of Love, and Martin Scorseses Goodfellas. But Lee was the creative force behind the film that made Jacksons reputation, Jungle Fever.

In that 1991 production, Jackson played Gator, the crack-addicted brother of Flipper Purify, played by Wesley Snipes. Jackson brought an explosive charisma and unpredictability to the portrayal; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called him a blistering actor in an unforgettable role. When the film debuted at the Cannes film festival, the judges named Jackson the best supporting actor. The award was a double honor because the Cannes judging had never before extended to that category, but Jacksons performance left an indelible mark on those who would rate him. Besides winning at that prestigious affair, he also received a New York Film Critics award. Jackson even won over the toughest critic of allhimself. Perhaps the greatest satisfaction accorded by the showing was that for once, as he told Lena Williams of the New York Times, I dont want to go back and fix it.

A few months after Jungle Fevers release, Jackson was surprised to find that his increased visibility and all the acclaim made some filmmakers think he was unavailable except at high salaries. He emphasized to Williams that he was not out of anyones range yet. True to his word, he proceeded to take small roles in such offbeat films as Juice and True Romance, among others. When Jackson was sent the script for the thriller White Sands, he assumed he was being considered for the part of the villaina role eventually bagged by Mickey Rourke. Then they call me back and say no, youre Meeker, the FBI agent. What? I had to go back and read it again, Jackson admitted to Premieres Veronica Victoria Chambers. And I like the guy [Meeker] a lot. Hes not obviously bad or obviously good. It was a stretch from Gator to that character. And I really would like to display the fact that I have that range. The films director, Roger Donaldson, praised Jackson to Chambers, saying Hes got enormous resources as an actor. Hes extremely talented technically. Sam can do something one take, then go back and build on it. Hes spontaneous, but hes well trained. And hes a nice guy.

Call Your Agent

Hollywood did not need to be heavily persuaded about Jacksons willingness to take on different genres. He shared above-the-title billing in two broad comedies, Amos & Andrew and National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I. Unfortunately, critics trashed both 1993 films. Entertainment Weeklys review of Amos & Andrew, for example, consisted largely of career advice for the actor. Their reviewer wondered, did Samuel L. Jackson really have to follow up his mesmerizing, out-on-the-edge performance as a homeless crack addict [in Jungle Fever] with National Lampoons Loaded Weapon I and the imbecilic mistaken-identity farce Amos & Andrew? The unequivocal pan concluded by urging the actor to call your agentand fire him.

Despite such misfires, Jackson continued working regularly in the 1990s, appearing as a technician in the box-office champ Jurassic Park, as one of Harrison Fords allies in Patriot Games, and in an ensemble role in Menace II Society. Patriot Games director Noyce told the New York Times that Jackson, despite having his performance severely edited, made so much out of so little that the audience imagined he had a greater participation than he actually did.

Interestingly, Jackson found one drawback to having such a good reputation. To his dismay, my agents and my managers tell me they dont want me to audition, [but instead to] just go in and take a meeting, he noted to Paul B. Cohen of the LA. Village View. I find that really bizarre sometimes, he continued, insisting that Its a lot easier for me to go in there and take the character that they have on this page and show them what I think of this character and just do it in an audition.

Whether through auditions or meetings, Jackson has consistently been hired. In the early 1990s, he appeared in three made-for-cable television dramas: Against the Wall, about the 1971 Attica Prison riots; Assault at West Point, in which Entertainment Weekly alleged Jackson and co-star Sam Waterston were guilty of ostentatiously chewing the scenery; and The Court Martial of Johnson Whittaker.

In 1994, Jackson was cast as a killer in writer-director Quentin Tarantinos Pulp Fiction, an ultraviolent thriller boasting what Jackson described to Cohen as one of the best scripts Ive read in a couple of years. The plumb role contained four to five page [long] speeches and thats something you dont normally do in a film, though he had had occasion to do so on stage. Jackson had earlier appeared in such prestigious New York productions as August Wilsons two acclaimed pieces, The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running. His appreciation for the dialogues Wilson had written was obvious. Speaking to Cohen, Jackson reflected, August writes three-hour plays, and when I was doing Piano Lesson I was the original [protagonist] Boy Willie before [actor] Charles Dutton did itthat character talks for about two hours and ten minutes in a three-hour play.

Back to the Stage

Despite the plethora of motion picture work he obtained in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jackson longed to appear onstage again. Once he did, he was pleasantly surprised to find a new environment in regards to many playwrights. In a New York Times interview, Jackson observed that the black acting community is relatively small. Especially in New York theater. The funny thing is that when they used to cast black roles, everybody from age 20 to 50 was called because they had no idea what kind of black person they wanted for the role. That kind of let you know that they sort of didnt have a clue as to who these people are.

Though Jackson assumed he would have to maintain himself in New York City for theatrical roles, he was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to be in the 1993 working-class play Distant Fires in Los Angeles. Everybodys very concerned about the production as a whole and not about their own performances, he enthused to Cohen. He similarly told Premieres Chambers I always want to get back to theater to make sure that Im still an actor. You have to convince people who are actually sitting there looking at you that youre doing what youre doing, without all the trappings of reality around you.

Trappings notwithstanding, Jackson admitted to L.A. Village View writer Jean Oppenheimer that he still wants to play a pirate, as well as a gunslinger, as he had done in his neighborhood as a child. Yet he has never lost sight of the practical necessities of his career. His managers, he told Angeli, have attempted to get me to calm down, to learn patience, but an actors greatest job is getting his next job. Indeed, Samuel Jackson seems, with each new performance, to guarantee a versatility and commitment that never go out of style.

Sources

Entertainment Weekly, March 5, 1993, p. 42; February 18, 1994, pp. 102-3.

Essence, April 1992, p. 48.

Interview, April 1992, p. 50.

LA. Village View, February 12, 1993, p. 11; December 3, 1993.

New York Times, June 9, 1991; February 7, 1993, section 2, pp. 13-14.

Premiere, May 1992, p. 57.

Rolling Stone, June 27, 1991, pp. 75-6.

Simon Glickman

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Jackson, Samuel L.

JACKSON, Samuel L.



Nationality: American. Born: Atlanta, Georgia, 21 December 1948. Family: Married the actress LaTanya Richardson (1980); child: Zoe. Education: Attended Morehouse College, major in theater arts. Career: Worked in the theater, 1970s-80s; made his screen debut in Together for Days, 1972; originated the roles of Willie Boy and Wolf on stage in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running at the Yale Rep, late 1980s; co-founder of the Just Us Theater Company, Atlanta, Georgia. Awards: Cannes Film Festival Best Supporting Actor, New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor, for Jungle Fever, 1991; Best Supporting Actor British Academy Award, Best Male Lead Independent Spirit Award for Pulp Fiction, 1994; Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Image Award, for A Time to Kill, 1996; Best First Feature (as co-executive producer) Independent Spirit Award, for Eve's Bayou, 1997; Berlin Film Festival Best Actor, for Jackie Brown, 1997. Agent: ICM, 8942 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, U.S.A.




Films as Actor:

1972

Together for Days (Schultz) (as Stan)

1976

The Displaced Person (Jordan—for TV)

1981

Ragtime (Forman) (as gang member no. 2)

1987

Eddie Murphy Raw (Townsend) (as Eddie's Uncle); Magic Sticks (Keglevic) (as Bum); Uncle Tom's Cabin (Lathan—for TV) (as George)

1988

Coming to America (Landis) (as hold-up man); School Daze (Spike Lee) (as Leeds)

1989

Sea of Love (Becker) (as black guy); Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee) (as Senor Love Daddy); Dead Man Out (Pearce—for TV) (as Calvin Fredricks)

1990

GoodFellas (Scorsese) (as Stack Edwards); Mo' Better Blues (Spike Lee) (as Madlock); Def by Temptation (Bond III) (as Minister Garth); A Shock to the System (Egleson) (as Ulysses); Betsy's Wedding (Alda) (as taxi dispatcher); The Exorcist III (The Exorcist III: Legion) (Blatty) (as Dream Blind Man); The Return of Superfly (Shore) (as Nate); Common Ground (Newell—for TV) (as the Reverend Bob McClain)

1991

Jungle Fever (Spike Lee) (as Gator Purify); Strictly Business (Hooks) (as Monroe); Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace (Mob Justice) (Markle—for TV)

1992

Patriot Games (Noyce) (as Robby); White Sands (Donaldson) (as Greg Meeker); Jumpin' at the Boneyard (Stanzler) (as Mr. Simpson); Juice (Dickerson) (as Trip); Johnny Suede (DiCillo) (as B-Bop); Fathers and Sons (Paul Mones) (as Marshall)

1993

Amos & Andrew (Frye) (as Andrew Sterling); National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (Quintano) (as Wes Luger); Menace II Society (Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes) (as Tat Lawson); Jurassic Park (Spielberg) (as Arnold); True Romance (Tony Scott) (as Big Don); The Meteor Man (Robert Townsend) (as Dre); Simple Justice (Helaine Head—for TV) (as the Steward)

1994

Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) (as Jules Winnfield); The New Age (Tolkin) (as Dale Deveaux); Fresh (Yakin) (as Sam); Hail Caesar (Anthony Michael Hall) (as mailman); Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker (Moses—for TV) (as Richard Greener); Against the Wall (Frankenheimer—for TV) (as Jamaal); Quentin Tarantino: Hollywood's Boy Wonder (Thompson—for TV) (doc) (as himself)

1995

Losing Isaiah (Gyllenhaal) (as Kadar Lewis); Kiss of Death (Schroeder) (as Calvin); Die Hard with a Vengeance (McTiernan) (as Zeus); Fluke (Carlei) (as voice of Rumbo)

1996

The Great White Hype (Hudlin) (as the Rev. Fred Sultan); A Time to Kill (Joel Schumacher) (as Carl Lee Hailey); The Long Kiss Goodnight (Harlin) (as Mitch Henessey)

1997

Eve's Bayou (Lemmons) (as Louis Batiste) (+ co-exec pr); One Eight Seven (187) (Reynolds) (as Trevor Garfield); Jackie Brown (Tarantino) (as Ordell Robbie)

1998

Le rouge violon (The Red Violin) (Girard) (as Charles Morritz); All Saints: The First Video (as himself-uncredited); Sphere (Levinson) (as Harry Adams); Out of Sight (Soderbergh) (as Hejira-uncredited); The Negotiator (Gray) (as Danny Roman)

1999

Deep Blue Sea (Harlin) (as Russell Franklin); Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (Lucas) (as Mace Windu); From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of Industrial Light and Magic (Kroll) (as host)

2000

Rules of Engagement (Friedkin) (as Colonel Terry L. Childers); Shaft Returns (Singleton) (as John Shaft); Caveman's Valentine (Lemmons) (as Romulus Ledbetter) (+ co-exec pr); The 51st State (Yu) (as Elmo McElroy) (+ pr); Mefisto in Onyx (Widen) (+ pr)



Publications


By JACKSON: articles—

Interview with David Rensin, in Playboy (Chicago), April 1995.

"Sam I Am," interview with Claudia Dreifus, in Premiere (New York), June 1995.

"Look Black in Anger," interview with David Eimer, in Time Out (London), 11 September 1996.

"Talking Feds," interview with Adam Smith, in Empire (London), December 1998.


On JACKSON: books—

Dils, Tracey E., Samuel L. Jackson (Black Americans of Achievement), Broomall, Pennsylvania, 1999.


On JACKSON: articles—

Williams, L., "Samuel L. Jackson: Out of Lee's Jungle into the Limelight," in New York Times, 9 June 1991.

Ickes, B., "Jackson Heights," in New York, 10 June 1991.

Chambers, Veronica Victoria, "Samuel L. Jackson," in Premiere (New York), May 1992.

Title, Stacey, "The Main Man," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), February 1993.

Angeli, Michael, "Samuel L. Jackson Climbs among the Glittering Stars," in New York Times, 7 February 1993.

Schoemer, Karen, "The 'L' Is for Lucky," in Newsweek (New York), 5 June 1995.

Dargis, Manohla, "A Man For All Seasons," in Sight & Sound (London), December 1996.


* * *

The early career of Samuel L. Jackson closely parallels that of another exemplary African-American character actor, Morgan Freeman. Both worked for years on stage and had unimportant movie roles before cementing their reputations in searing, eye-opening, award-caliber supporting performances.

In Street Smart, Freeman played a vicious pimp; in Jungle Fever, Jackson is brilliant as the pitiful, crack-addicted brother of the film's main character (Wesley Snipes). Jackson's Gator Purify constantly hits on brother Flipper for money and favors, endlessly and pathetically promising to clean up his life. He is a burden not only to Flipper but to his righteous parents. Nevertheless, Gator is not just another stereotypical African-American street hustler, a black villain in a story whose heroes all are white. Jungle Fever is directed by an African American, Spike Lee; while the character serves to mirror a certain very real segment of the urban black population, in the context of the story it is clear that he represents just one of many aspects of that community. Jackson's riveting performance did not go unnoticed by critics. The actor may have failed to earn a well-deserved Oscar nomination, but he was cited with the first-ever Best Supporting Performance award at the Cannes Film Festival.

After establishing themselves in their breakthrough roles, the careers of Jackson and Morgan Freeman veer in different directions. On more than one occasion, Freeman has played characters who are sweetly sympathetic and gentle, or quietly commanding, while Jackson's roles—even when cast as a hero—mostly remain hard-edged and frenetic. He is most fun to watch when playing such characters, whether they are the baddest of the bad or the best of the best.

In the 1990s, Jackson has been one of our most prolific movie actors, consistently bringing a raw, kinetic energy to his work. He appeared in roles of varying lengths in mega-budget epics whose scenarios are driven not by character exploration but by stunts and special effects (Jurassic Park, Die Hard with a Vengence, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace); less splashier, more character-driven Hollywood fare (Losing Isaiah, Kiss of Death); made-for-television movies (Against the Wall, Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker); and high-profile releases of the New Wave of African-American filmmakers (the Hughes brothers' Menace II Society, Ernest Dickerson's Juice, and Kasi Lemmons's Eve's Bayou, in addition to Jungle Fever). Earlier, the actor also had roles in Lee's Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues.

Four Jackson performances—each in a very different role—serve to exemplify the actor's unfailing excellence and electrifying screen presence. In Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, he has the showy role of Jules Winnfield, the bible-spouting hitman who is companion to John Travolta's Vincent Vega. (Jackson plays a not-dissimilar character, an epithet-spewing creep, in Jackie Brown, Tarantino's follow-up feature.) In William Friedkin's Rules of Engagement, he is Colonel Terry Childers, a fiercely proud, ultra-patriotic career marine who is set up by a Washington bureaucrat and subjected to an unjust court-martial for doing his duty during a tough assignment in Yemen. In Michael Tolkin's The New Age, he plays Dale Deveaux, a "New Age" psychological motivator who shows up in the film's final section to inspire the main character (Peter Weller). And in Stephen Gyllenhaal's Losing Isaiah, he is Kadar Lewis, an attorney who encourages a former crack addict (Halle Berry) to reclaim her young son, who has been adopted by a white family.

In each film, Jackson is surrounded by outstanding actors. Yet whenever he is spouting dialogue—whether confronting and confounding "those who are about to die" in Pulp Fiction, soldiering heroically and later being assaulted in a courtroom in Rules of Engagement, doing his high-pressure sermonizing in The New Age, or declaring that black babies belong with black mothers in Losing Isaiah—all other performers and all other action around him cease to exist.

—Rob Edelman

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Jackson, Samuel L.

Samuel L. Jackson
1948–

Actor

Samuel L. Jackson is the quintessential example of a steady rise to success, and his work ethic serves as a model of perseverance. After having a showy role in Spike Lee's film Jungle Fever, Jackson continued to work as if each new role might be his last. From Pulp Fiction to Unbreakable to Coach Carter, he showed versatility and willingness to take chances.

Samuel Leroy Jackson was born on December 21, 1948 in Washington, D.C. to a mother, Elizabeth, a clothing buyer, and a father who would soon abandon them. Without support from Samuel's father, Elizabeth had difficulty trying to raise her son, an only child. While he was still very young, she sent Samuel to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to live with his grandparents and an aunt. She joined them in Chattanooga a few years later.

Living in that segregated southern city had a lasting effect on Jackson. Once, at five years of age, while sitting on the front porch, he whistled at a pretty white girl walking by on the sidewalk. Immediately, his mom, grandmother, and aunt were out on the porch scolding him. They worried that such an innocent act might result in somebody getting killed; such was the brand of bigotry practiced by whites on blacks at the time. There were always things that he could not do or places he was not allowed to go, based on the color of his skin.

At an early age Jackson began appearing in the local children's productions staged by his aunt. He starred as Humpty Dumpty and the Sugar Plum Fairy in two of those productions. His stutter, however, made him self-conscious about being the center of attention. Fearing that Samuel was not getting enough opportunity to develop in the male world, his mother insisted that he play Little League baseball when he was ten. Baseball proved the beginning of his love affair with sports in general. By high school, he had developed into a talented all-around athlete. At Chattanooga's all-black Riverside High, he participated on the swimming and track teams. He also played in the school's marching band and was popular enough to be elected senior class president.

Pushing the Limits at College

After high school, Jackson enrolled at Atlanta's Morehouse College, majoring in architecture. At Morehouse, no longer under the rule of his mother, Jackson pushed the limits of personal freedom. Sporting a giant "black is beautiful" afro, he dressed like a hippie, often wearing an army fatigue jacket, set off by a flamboyant headband, a la rock star Jimi Hendrix, and little, dark-lens glasses, like those worn by Clarence Williams III on the television show The Mod Squad. While immersed in the anti-establishment culture at Morehouse, Jackson was introduced to the drug culture. In addition to heavy alcohol use, he experimented with marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Though he later described himself as a weekend, recreational drug user in those days, it was the start of what would become a very serious drug dependency. Jackson also became a political activist at Morehouse, primarily participating in protests opposing the Vietnam War.

It was a protest much closer to home, however, that made Jackson front-page news in 1969. Upset that Morehouse, a historically black institution, did not offer a black studies program, Jackson and some fellow activists decided to stage a media event to air their demands. Using chains they had acquired from the school grounds and padlocks bought at a local hardware store, the protesters stormed a board of trustees meeting and locked board members in for two-and-a-half days. Among the trustees was Martin Luther King Sr., the father of the civil rights icon. Although there were police officers outside waiting for an opportunity to rush the students, the incident was resolved peacefully. Jackson, however, who had made speeches from the steps of the building during the takeover, was expelled. After moving to Los Angeles, where he worked as a social worker for a year and a half, Jackson was allowed to reenroll at the college.

Jackson's change of major from architecture to drama was serendipitous. A speech professor who offered his students extra credit for appearing in the school's musical production encouraged Jackson to audition to help him overcome his persistent stutter. Jackson auditioned and managed to snag a role. Once Jackson smelled the greasepaint and heard the roar of the crowd, he was ready for more. Despite the objections of his family, Jackson pursued an acting career. He became involved with the theater program at Spelman, a nearby women's college, where he met LaTanya Richardson, who also dreamed of an acting career. Richardson soon became his girlfriend, and they pursued their goals together.

Jackson's television debut came in commercials for the Southern fast-food chain Krystal Hamburgers in Atlanta. While still at Morehouse, Jackson made his movie debut in a supporting role in the film Together for Days, with Broadway and television star Clifton Davis and Lois Chiles, a future Bond girl. That movie, released in 1972, doubtless was very encouraging for the young actor, but it was Jackson's last motion picture credit for nearly a decade. Jackson graduated from Morehouse with a dramatic arts degree in 1972 but remained in Atlanta another four years while Richardson earned her dramatic arts degree (1974) and he learned his craft appearing in local theater. He landed his first television series appearance in 1974 in Moving On, an NBC action drama about truck drivers.

In 1976, Jackson and Richardson moved to New York City, where they both hoped to work on Broadway, as well as break into television. Jackson kept busy performing, be it Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, or children's theatre. The size of venue or type of production made no difference, because Jackson believed that if a person is going to be an actor, then he had better be working. In 1977, he returned to the small screen when he was cast in an hour-long TV adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's story The Displaced Person, starring John Houseman. A year later, he appeared in The Trial of the Moke, shown on the long-running PBS anthology series, Great Performances. In 1980, after ten years together, Jackson and Richardson married. Their only child, a daughter, Zoe, was born two years later.

Nine years after his motion picture debut in Together for Days, Jackson had his second flirtation with the big screen when he was cast in director Milos Forman's 1981 film version of the best-selling EL. Doctorow novel Ragtime, starring the previously long-retired Hollywood legend James Cagney. Jackson was convinced that the film would serve as a springboard to success in Hollywood. His minor role as a gang member, however, did not turn out to be the career boost he envisioned. Several more years passed before Hollywood came knocking again.

In the meantime, Jackson went where the work was, appearing in plays throughout the United States. He became a mainstay of the Negro Ensemble Company, both in New York City and as part of their touring company. He starred in the company's A Soldier's Play and Home, both in 1981; in District Line in 1984; and later in Burners Frolic and Jonquil, both 1990. While appearing in A Soldier's Play Jackson had a fortuitous meeting with the young film director, Spike Lee, who came backstage after the performance. Subsequently, Lee, a fellow Morehouse grad, cast Jackson in several of his early films. During the eighties, Jackson also worked with Yale Rep and the Shakespeare Festival.

Chronology

1948
Born in Washington, D.C. on December 21
1969
Takes part in the lockup of the Board of Trustees at Morehouse College
1972
Earns a dramatic arts degree from Morehouse College; makes his motion picture debut in Together for Days
1980
Marries LaTanya Richardson
1981
Stars in the Negro Ensemble Company's stage production A Soldier's Play
1982
Daughter Zoe is born
1991
Earns awards for his performance in the movie Jungle Fever; enters rehab for drug and alcohol addiction
1994
Pulp Fiction establishes him as a major movie star; receives Oscar nomination
1997
Produces and stars in Eve's Bayou
1999
Stars in first of three Star Wars films
2000
Reportedly earns $10 million for Shaft
2004
Voices superhero Frozone in animated blockbuster The Incredibles

Starting in the mid-1980s, Jackson began acquiring regular small screen work. His most regular work for television, however, did not result in any actual airtime. For three seasons, starting in 1985, Jackson served as Bill Cosby's stand-in on the enormously popular NBC com-edy named for its star. Concurrently, Jackson managed guest roles in such series as the ABC action drama Spenser: For Hire (two appearances as different characters), that show's spin-off: A Man Called Hawk and the NBC "dramedy" The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. He also had minor roles in two television movies: the 1987 television version of Uncle Tom's Cabin and the 1989 drama Dead Man Out.

Spike Lee gave Jackson's big screen career a boost in 1988 when he cast him in School Daze, set on the campus of a black college not unlike Morehouse. In 1989, Jackson appeared in Lee's commercial breakthrough Do the Right Thing and the next year in Mo' Better Blues, starring Denzel Washington. Aside from the films for Lee, Jackson also appeared in a number of other films in the late 1980s. Among those was the little-seen cult flick Magic Sticks (1987); two Eddie Murphy movies, Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) and Coming to America (1988); and the Al Pacino police drama Sea of Love (1989). By 1990, Jackson was working frequently in motion pictures. In that year alone (besides the Lee film) he had roles in A Shock to the System, Def by Temptation, Betsy's Wedding, The Exorcist III, Goodfellas, and The Return of Superfly.

Overcoming Addictions

Unfortunately, during the entire period of his emergence as an actor, Jackson never worked without an illegal or controlled substance in his body. He drank alcohol to excess, always willing to be the life of the party and show that he could imbibe more than his colleagues. That was the public side of his substance abuse, but the private side was even worse. He smoked marijuana, dropped acid, snorted cocaine, and used anything else that would get him high. Worst of all, he did not confine his drug use to non-working hours: he later admitted that anytime he went on stage he had some sort of drug in his body. It got even worse in that latter half of the 1980s when Jackson began smoking crack cocaine. In addition to his drug problems, Jackson was also a perpetual womanizer. Through it all, his wife LaTanya remained by his side, trying to help him become the man she believed that he could be. With the support of his family, Jackson finally sought treatment for his addictions in early 1991 by entering rehab. Over the next several years, he spent countless hours attending Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings learning how to live a life of sobriety. He also recommitted himself to LaTanya and their daughter.

In early 1991, Jackson returned to series television as a guest in a first-season episode of NBC's long-running crime drama Law & Order. He also appeared that fall in a first-season episode of the Fox comedy Roc. His breakthrough role, however, came on the big screen, in Spike Lee's interracial love story Jungle Fever. In that film, Jackson portrayed the character Gator Purify, the brother of the character played by Wesley Snipes, the star of the film. While still in rehab, Jackson, who had been cast earlier, pleaded with Lee not to recast the role due to his personal problems. Two weeks after completing rehab, Jackson began acting the role of the intense, crack-addicted Gator, bringing an unusual amount of realism to his portrayal. At the Cannes International Film Festival, Jackson was awarded a rare special jury prize for his outstanding performance in a supporting role. Later that year, he also earned the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best supporting actor. The expected Academy Award nomination never came, but the visibility of the performance greatly enhanced his employability.

Over the next two years, though his was not exactly a household name, Jackson was developing into a star. Continuing his philosophy of working as much as possible, he took the best offers that came his way, not concerned about the size of the role or magnitude of the production. In television series, made-for-television movies, and roles in minor flicks and major motion pictures, Jackson was always working. Among the highlights of his many credits was the acclaimed television series I'll Fly Away; the movies Juice, White Sands and Patriot Games, both in 1992; and the movies Loaded Weapon 1, Amos & Andrew (in which he received top billing for the first time), Menace II Society and the blockbuster Jurassic Park, all in 1993.

In 1994, Jackson and Richardson switched coasts when they moved from their Harlem brownstone to a Tudor-style home in Encino, California. The move was meant to benefit the television and motion picture careers of both Jackson and Richardson, whose career was also on the rise. She had landed roles in such popular movies as Fried Green Tomatoes, Malcolm X and Sleepless in Seattle, as well as TV roles in such hits as Law & Order and Cheers during the early 1990s. The move also resulted in Jackson's introduction to golf. He quickly became an avid enthusiast, replacing his former addictions with a new, socially acceptable one. Within a few years, once he had garnered the necessary sway, Jackson was having tee times written into his movie contracts, so that his passion for the game could be balanced with his work schedule.

In Hollywood, Jackson continued working at his usual, frenetic pace. In 1994, his credits included the film Fresh, and the television movies Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker and Against the Wall. The move to the A-list, however, came via a medium-budgeted action feature directed by Quentin Tarantino, who had just one previous directorial credit. Tarantino's Pulp Fiction became the sleeper hit of the decade, a watershed film in terms of story construction and a boon to the careers of everyone involved. In addition to Jackson, the latter was also particularly true of John Travolta, a seemingly washed-up actor, who starred alongside Jackson as a pair of hit men who propel much of the action in the highly episodic film. Jackson, as the Jheri-curled, scrip-ture-quoting tough guy Jules Winnfield, provided the perfect companion to Travolta's loopy killer.

Playing for months with steady business, Pulp Fiction became a cultural phenomenon. The movie went on to win numerous critics awards and was nominated by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences for the best picture Oscar. For Jackson, it also meant his first Oscar nomination, as he was nominated in the supporting actor category. On March 21, 1995, just prior to the Oscar telecast, Jackson appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and proved a very natural, yet lively guest. It was not long before Jackson was a regular guest on many talk shows. Ultimately, he lost the Oscar to Martin Landau, for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, but Jackson had become a star.

Due to the lag time between a movie's production and its actual release date, some of Jackson's film credits for the following year did not yet reflect his rise in status brought on by Pulp Fiction. For instance, 1995 saw the release of the kids' flick Fluke, in which Jackson voiced the title character, a dog. Likewise, neither Raising Isaiah (in which LaTanya Richardson also appeared) nor Kiss of Death did big business that year, but Die Hard: With a Vengeance certainly did. Playing sidekick to Bruce Willis, Jackson received rave reviews for his portrayal of Zeus Carver, adding a human dimension to a big-budget, special effects-laden crime thriller sequel that could easily have just been played by the numbers.

Among the higher profile projects in which Jackson appeared during 1996 were the comedy The Great White Hype and the action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight. Sandwiched between those disappointing productions was the release of the courtroom drama A Time to Kill, in which Jackson starred as Carl Lee Hailey, a Mississippi man accused of murdering the two white men who raped his 10-year-old daughter. Based on the John Grisham novel, the film was one of the top hits of the year. The following year he starred in the high school/gang violence drama 187, before adding a new credit to his resume, that of producer, for the period drama Eve's Bayou.

Set in 1962 Louisiana, Jackson also co-starred, playing a womanizing doctor and head of a family keeping many secrets. Eve's Bayou, the writing and directing debut of actress Kasi Lemmons, garnered critical raves (including Roger Ebert's naming it his top film of 1997), but had a lukewarm box-office reception. Jackson's final screen appearance of the year was in the crime drama Jackie Brown, in which he teamed again with Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino. As vicious arms dealer Ordell Robbie, Jackson's dialogue is sprinkled with curse words and the heavy use of the "n-word." Spike Lee publicly denounced Jackson for agreeing to repeatedly say the "n-word" in the movie, especially because Tarantino, a white filmmaker, penned it. Jackson defended Tarantino whole-heartedly, saying that the dialogue was true to the character. He further stood up for Tarantino's right to exercise creative license. Though they strongly disagreed on the issue, he and Lee remained friends. Jackie Brown did not prove the box office bonanza that Pulp Fiction was, but it did moderate business and received excellent critical notices.

Four more movies hit the big screen for Jackson in 1998: Sphere, Out of Sight, The Negotiator and The Red Violin. On January 10, 1998, Jackson took his celebrity status to a new level when he hosted NBC's sketch-comedy institution Saturday Night Live. He followed that up by hosting the 1998 MTV Movie Awards. With his standard Kangol cap (always rakishly worn backwards) and flashy but nattily tailored suits, Jackson was quickly becoming the ambassador of cool. Soon, in addition to talk shows, Jackson was a regular guest on award and entertainment magazine shows, as well as a favorite interview subject for Hollywood documentaries and celebrity profiles. Among the programs he has hosted are From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of Industrial Light & Magic (1999), Comic Books & Superheroes (2001) and The ESPY Awards (2002).

Jackson was among many celebrities who lent their voices to My Friend Martin, a one-hour cartoon based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., which was nominated in the Outstanding Animated Program category of the 1999 Emmy Awards. His two other major projects for 1999 were supporting roles. He played a rich businessman who finances an Alzheimer's research project at an underwater laboratory in the sharks-versus-humans thriller Deep Blue Sea. He was also cast as Jedi Master Mace Windu in George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. His role grew in importance and his screen time increased in the next two episodes of the series: Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005). In the latter, he had an exhilarating light saber duel to the death with the saga's ultimate evildoer, Darth Sidious.

By the end of the 1990s, Jackson was believed to have appeared in more Hollywood films during the decade—over forty—than any other actor. His extraordinary pace did not slow upon the arrival of the new millennium. In addition to Rules of Engagement and Unbreakable (playing a demented, yet fragile villain) in 2000, Jackson starred in the title role of Shaft, playing the nephew of the character from the 1971 version played by Richard Roundtree. For playing police detective John Shaft, Jackson reportedly earned $10 million. In 2001, Jackson served as an executive producer on two movies in which he starred: Formula 51 (donning kilts) and The Caveman's Valentine. The following year he appeared in such titles as Changing Lanes, The House on Turk Street, and xXx. In 2003, Jackson teamed again with John Travolta for the military drama Basic and starred in the film version of the 1970s television series S.W.AT.

Jackson appeared on screen in several movies during 2004, including In My Country (in which he engages in a love affair with French actress Juliette Binoche), Twisted, and Kill Bill 2. He also served that year as the voice of superhero Frozone in the blockbuster animated film The Incredibles. Coach Carter, which had Jackson portraying a real-life high school basketball coach who positively affected the lives of the students at an inner-city school, got 2005 off to a fine start. xXx: State of the Union, The Man and Freedomland rounded out another year in the career of the prolific actor.

Samuel L. Jackson had arrived. He has had a career doing what he loves, and he is so good at it that in an often-iffy business, he manages to work as much as he wants, which is constantly. And he has the love of a good woman, who has helped him in becoming a good husband and father.

REFERENCES

Periodicals

Cohen, David S. "Jackson Career a Tour de Force." Variety: Film Fest Guide Special Issue 2000 380 (28 August-3 September 2000).

Collier, Aldore. "Samuel L. Jackson: Talks about His Marriage, the Oscar Snubs, and Why He Works So Hard. Ebony 58 (August 2003):10.

Fretts, Bruce. "The Making of a Hit Man." Entertainment Weekly 250 (25 November 1994).

Lee, Elyssa. "Man of Style: Samuel L. Jackson." INSTYLE 9 (May 2002): 6.

Morgan, Joan. "You're Still the One: LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson." Essence 33 (May 2002).

O'Neill, Tom. "Samuel L. Jackson." Us (March 1998):242.

"Samuel L. Jackson, with 64 Movies to His Credit, Is Featured in 'Star Wars the Phantom Menace.'" Jet 96 (7 June 1999): 1.

Schoemer, Karen. "The 'L' is for Lucky." Newsweek 125 (5 June 1995): 23.

Smith, Kyle, Michael Fleeman, and Ivory Clinton. "Action Jackson." People Weekly 54, 3 July 2000.

Online

"Samuel L. Jackson." Hollywood.com (Accessed 28 September 2005).

"Samuel L. Jackson: How Did an Average Boy Become One of the Biggest Actors in Hollywood?" Hollywoodfirm.com (Accessed 28 September 2005).

"Samuel L. Jackson." IMDB.com (Accessed 28 September 2005).

                                    Kevin C. Kretschmer

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