Samuel L. Jackson
With a rare gift for the profane and a commanding on-screen presence, Samuel L. Jackson was one of the most sought after actors of his time. Born in Washington, D.C.,he was a student activist at Morehouse College and served as an usher at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His protests led to his being arrested and convicted of unlawful confinement. After finishing college, he moved to New York where his early stage and television career was stunted by substance abuse issues. After a number of small parts on television in the early '80s, Jackson's career finally began to find true traction thanks to his relationship with Spike Lee. The director cast him in parts in "School Daze" (1988),"Do the Right Thing" (1989), and "Mo' Better Blues" (1990). Along with small, but memorable roles, in "Coming to America" (1988) and Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" (1990), his profile in the industry began increasing. His true breakout came due to another collaboration with Lee. After having just completed a rehabilitation program for cocaine and heroin addiction, Jackson garnered critical raves as the drug-addicted brother of Wesley Snipes' architect in "Jungle Fever" (1991). His film roles increased steadily, including parts in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster "Jurassic Park" (1993) and opposite Harrison Ford in the thriller "Patriot Games" (1992). It was a relationship with another director, however, that put the actor on the map for good. Having worked with Quentin Tarantino on "True Romance" (1993), he was cast in the filmmaker's seminal "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Playing the Scripture-quoting hitman Jules, alongside John Travolta, the actor was swept up in a pop culture phenomenon. From then on, Jackson became an in-demand film actor. His high profile roles included joining Bruce Willis for "Die Hard With a Vengeance" (1995) and reteaming with Tarantino for "Jackie Brown" (1997). He also joined sci-fi lore by playing Jedi Master Mace Windu in George Lucas's "Star Wars" prequels, "The Phantom Menace" (1999), "Attack of the Clones" (2002), and "Revenge of the Sith" (2005). M. Night Shyamalan paired the actor once again with Willis for the supernatural thriller "Unbreakable" (2000) - a film that would eventually get a sequel 19 years later starring the pair again in "Glass" (2019). He later became one of the mainstays of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. Beginning in "Iron Man" (2008) and continuing through the international blockbusters of "The Avengers" (2012) series and appearing as a younger version of the character in "Captain Marvel" (2019), Jackson played the hero to the point of becoming synonymous with the character. The actor continued his relationship with Tarantino as well, appearing in the director's "Django Unchained" (2012) and "The Hateful Eight" (2015). Jackson's standing as an action star continued deep into his career as well, playing John Shaft in both "Shaft" (2000) and the sequel "Shaft" (2019), and teaming with Ryan Reynolds for "The Hitman's Bodyguard" (2017) and "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" (2020).