Samuel L. Jackson: 20 Can't-Miss Performances

Another celebrity birthday is upon us, as our man Samuel L. Jackson turns 72 today. Get the party started with one of his 20 best pictures.

Jesse Conner

By Jesse Conner

Samuel L. Jackson in "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith."

© 20th Century Fox/courtesy Everett Collection

Pulp Fiction

This film is the one that fans of Jackson are likely to be quoting in their sleep, as it features the iconic scene where his character Jules recites a biblical verse with pistol in his hand, unleashing his wrath upon an unfortunate soul who has wronged his employer.

Pulp Fiction Poster

Pulp Fiction

R

Crime Drama

October 14, 1994

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Do The Right Thing

The smoothest radio personality in the neighborhood, Jackson is Mister Señor Love Daddy and he lets his charm and charisma do the talking, showing audiences early on in his career that he was ready for the spotlight.

Do the Right Thing Poster

Do the Right Thing

R

Drama

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Jackie Brown

Another one of Jackson's scene-stealing performances, he's an arms dealer that seems to be a reasonable, trustworthy "friend" to those who work with him...but who's also quick to the pull trigger if he feels he's been double-crossed.

Jackie Brown Poster

Jackie Brown

R

Crime Drama

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Black Snake Moan

What is probably a sympathetic but also disturbing role Jackson took on in his career, he's cast here as a guy who keeps a young, afflicted woman locked in his house in order to help her get clean and cleanse her of her "wickedness."

Black Snake Moan Poster

Black Snake Moan

R

Drama

March 2, 2007

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Fresh

A complicated situation arises where a young boy witnesses a murder, so in order to choose the right path of what to do next, he leans on the skills that he learned from his drunken father (played by Jackson) who knows all about making the right move from his days as a speed-chess champ.

Fresh Poster

Fresh

R

Drama

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The Hateful Eight

Jackson can easily fit into any Tarantino flick, and in this one he's a bounty hunter who plays by no rules and will murder any man in cold blood that gets in the way of his bounty.

The Hateful Eight Poster

The Hateful Eight

R

Western

December 30, 2015

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Jungle Fever

In another early breakout role, the chameleon actor plays a crackhead named Gator who tries to convince his brother to give him money. If that doesn't work, he's more than willing to rob an elderly person.

Jungle Fever Poster

Jungle Fever

R

Drama

Django Unchained

This is hands-down a most unique and ironic role. Jackson is the right-hand man to a slave owner, yet he's a slave himself. Because he's the head house slave, though, he can order all of the other slaves around in a demeaning way with no qualms about it.

Django Unchained Poster

Django Unchained

R

Western

December 25, 2012

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Die Hard with a Vengeance

Jackson's character Zeus Carver is just minding his own business...until he meets detective John McClane on the street. After that, all bets are off.

Die Hard With a Vengeance Poster

Die Hard With a Vengeance

R

Action

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Unbreakable

Jackson pairs with Willis once more. This role is one of an actual supervillain, born with bones so weak that they break like glass. For reasons to be revealed later, he's hellbent on finding the superhero of the story who is supposed to be unbreakable.

Unbreakable Poster

Unbreakable

PG-13

Thriller

November 22, 2000

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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

If you're a Star Wars fan, then you'll never forget Jackson's portrayal of Mace Windu, the only jedi to grace the big screen with a purple lightsaber.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Poster

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

PG-13

Action

May 19, 2005

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Captain Marvel

Though his first cinematic entrance into the MCU was in "Iron 2," Jackson's character Nick Fury really gets his time to shine in this film. From an MCU timeline perspective this is actually before the Avengers assemble, and before Fury loses sight in his left eye.

Captain Marvel Poster

Captain Marvel

PG-13

Action

March 8, 2019

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Snakes on a Plane

From the title, this film's exactly what it sounds like, and Jackson's character Agent Neville Flynn from the FBI is not messing around letting loose one of Jackson's famously explicit lines about how he's "had it" with the snakes on the plane.

Snakes on a Plane Poster

Snakes on a Plane

R

Action

August 18, 2006

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Coach Carter

This one's an inspiring role where Jackson plays a high school basketball coach who's determined to show his players discipline on the court and in their classes so that they can be the best versions of themselves everywhere.

Coach Carter Poster

Coach Carter

PG-13

Drama

January 14, 2005

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The Long Kiss Goodnight

Jackson jumps into his role as an ill-experienced private investigator who is hired to help a woman with amnesia figure out who she is. He quickly finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

The Long Kiss Goodnight Poster

The Long Kiss Goodnight

R

Action

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Shaft

One of Jackson's coolest characters is where he's able to let it all hang out as former NYPD Detective John Shaft II (deference to his poppa, the o.g. from the inital '70s film series). This is the type of man that doesn't play by anyone's rules...and we're all the better for it.

Shaft Poster

Shaft

R

Action

June 16, 2000

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A Time to Kill

This one deals with some sensitive, unsettling themes as Jackson's character Carl Lee Hailey has a daughter who is taken advantage of...leading him to take matters into his own hands...and later being put on trial to determine if his actions were justified.

A Time to Kill Poster

A Time to Kill

R

Drama

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Changing Lanes

What starts as an unfortunate car accident turns into an all-out war between two complete strangers, when Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck go head-to-head with no rest stop in sight.

Changing Lanes Poster

Changing Lanes

R

Drama

April 12, 2002

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The Negotiator

In this role, Jackson is a hostage negotiator who believes he's been set up, and who'll have to do his best to convince a fellow negotiator that he's innocent.

The Negotiator Poster

The Negotiator

R

Crime Drama

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One Eight Seven

At a troubled school where death threats come by the dozen, Jackson is the teacher who's fed up with the "kids" thinking that they run the school. This time, it may end up with his students learning the hard way.

One Eight Seven Poster

One Eight Seven

R

Drama

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Jesse Conner

Jesse is a writer and content manager for Noovie. When he's not working, he's on the beach playing volleyball.

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