ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

Any list containing 's most memorable performances must come with the following caveat: It's impossible to include them all, they're all memorable. One of the coolest actors to have ever graced the screen, Jackson consistently stands out in leading roles, cameos, and everywhere between.

It's that larger-than-life charisma — combined with an effortless ability to make dialogue from even the worst of scripts sound like words carefully extracted from the womb of mother nature herself — that has landed Mr. Cool a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dubai International Film Festival.

To celebrate Jackson's award, here's a list of some of those performances you just can't shake off, cherry-picked from a career spanning over 100 films and billions in box office takings:

13. Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

'Long Kiss Goodnight' [Credit: New Line Cinema]
'Long Kiss Goodnight' [Credit: New Line Cinema]

Screenwriter Shane Black is notorious for crafting quick-fire, eccentric dialogue — a perfect match for Jackson. The film's performance didn't live up to expectations (Black was paid $4m for the script), but the result is an enjoyable action film. Although lacking real depth, the story was propelled forward by Jackson's delivery of Black's wit as private detective Mitch Hennessey.

12. Do The Right Thing (1989)

'Do the Right Thing' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
'Do the Right Thing' [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Spike Lee's comedy-drama, capturing the lives of those caught up in a race riot in Brooklyn, is arguably one of his best. Genuinely subversive and one of the most important movies of Lee's career, Jackson adds richness to the backdrop by playing Mister Señor Love Daddy, a local radio DJ.

11. Snakes On A Plane (2006)

As the title suggests, it's a movie about snakes on a plane. Starring Samuel L. Jackson as FBI Agent Neville Flynn, given the task of protecting a witness to a murder. It has snakes. It has planes. It has this quote:

"Enough is enough! I've had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin plane!"

Trying to imagine any other than Jackson delivering that line with such poise is impossible.

10. A Time To Kill (1996)

'A Time to Kill' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'A Time to Kill' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

From the absurd to the gripping, one of Jackson's most gritty portrays occurs in this adaptation of John Grisham's novel of the same name. Certainly not an easy watch, Jackson demonstrates his ability for intense emotional performances, playing Carl Lee Hailey, a father who murders the two men who raped and killed his teenage daughter.

9. Jackie Brown (1997)

'Jackie Brown' [Credit: Miramax]
'Jackie Brown' [Credit: Miramax]

Jackson is one of Quentin Tarantino's most relied upon actors, appearing in six separate movies. Jackie Brown took influence from '70s blaxplotation films, and starred Jackson as the violent pimp, Ordell Robbie. Perhaps under-appreciated, Jackon excels with Tarantino's typical profanity rich dialogue.

8. The Hateful Eight (2015)

'The Hateful Eight' [Credit: The Weinstein Company]
'The Hateful Eight' [Credit: The Weinstein Company]

The relationship between Tarantino and Jackson is so flawless, you can expect more additions later. But for now, the sixth and most recent time the pair clubbed together tackled the era shortly following the American Civil War. Jackson's Major Marquis Warren, also known as "The Bounty Hunter," is his usual compelling self — his Pulp Fiction-esque monologue being one of the highlights.

7. Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (1999 - 2005)

There aren't many actors who can walk into a Star Wars movie and request their own color lightsaber, but this is the King of Cool himself. Sporting a unique purple lightsaber, Jackson's appearance as Mace Windu — a Jedi Master who bravely attempted to prevent Chancellor Palpatine's transition to evil — was one of the redeeming factors of the prequels.

6. The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Nick Fury in the MCU [Credit: Disney]
Nick Fury in the MCU [Credit: Disney]

As if one mega-popular franchise wasn't enough, Samuel L. Jackson also signed a nine-picture deal to star as Nick Fury in the MCU. Since his first appearance in the post-credit scene of Iron Man (2008), Fury has become an integral part of the shared universe. The S.H.I.E.L.D agent was tasked with the recruitment of the superhero ensemble, the Avengers, and has since supported them in their efforts to protect the world.

5. Django Unchained (2012)

'Django Unchained' [Credit: The Weinstein Company]
'Django Unchained' [Credit: The Weinstein Company]

Despite working together often, Tarantino and Jackson rarely settle, instead opting to consistently push boundaries. Much hype surrounded Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in Django Unchained, yet Jackson was equally as captivating as Stephen, the house attendant who was fiercely loyal to his master. Jackson's usual charm is nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by chilling aggression and thousand-yard stare.

4. Black Snake Moan (2006)

From one harrowing story to another, Jackson's leading role as former blues musician Lazarus Redd is one of his grittiest and morally nuanced. After discovering sex addict Rae Doole (Christina Ricci), who has been beaten and left for dead, Redd attempts to "cure" her by holding her captive. The film is as intense as the chemistry between the two, lightened by Jackson's dexterity with the guitar — something he practised for seven hours a day in the six months leading up to the performance.

3. Unbreakable (2000)

'Unbreakable' [Credit: Buena Vista Pictures]
'Unbreakable' [Credit: Buena Vista Pictures]

Perhaps one of his most eerie performances, Jackson appears as Elijah Price, a manipulative comic book store owner who becomes the nemesis of David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a man who is seemingly immune to physical harm. The evil grimace, dishevelled hair and bubbling rage mark an unforgettable performance form Jackson, in the paradigm of an often overlooked superhero movie.

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Yeah, you thought it was going to be number one. And in the hearts of many, it always will be. Jackson's role as hitman and fast-food aficionado Jules Winnfield is one of the most memorable (and quotable) in cinema. He's the jewel within Tarantino's masterpiece, and the executioner of some of the director's most striking dialogue.

In particular, his delivery of Ezekiel 25:17, and his handling of the final diner scene are both deserving of his Oscar nomination. Subsequent viewings of the cult classic also make you wonder why Jackson is still yet to win an Academy Award.

1. Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Some may be surprised with the top spot, but this is a list of memorable appearances, after all. Although not one of Jackson's finest acting performances, the death of his character Russell Franklin is one of the most surprising and unforgettable cinematic deaths.

Shortly after delivering a rousing speech with typical aplomb, a great white shark on steroids leaps from the pool behind him and drags him to his gory death. Turning the film's star name into shark food so soon into the movie only added to the surprise.


Which is your most memorable Samuel L. Jackson performance?


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