“I have had it with these motherfu**ing snakes on this motherfu**ing plane!” – Snakes on a Plane
Samuel L. Jackson epitomizes what a ‘scene stealer’ is all about. Regardless of the scope of his role or the length of time he’s on screen, you cannot ignore Jackson’s presence in any film. He’s battled racism, dinosaurs, sharks, terrorists, snakes, aliens…and while he’s burned through more ‘movie lives’ than The Flash has shoes, he keeps on giving audiences and fans what they want = one bad*ss motha’ fu*ka!
Check out Jacksons’s top five “Scene Stealing” performances, after the jump.
#5 Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction”
I know many fans that might have ranked this performance higher; however, at this point in his career, Jackson was just starting to gain ‘A-list’ attention. Add not just one, but two huge comeback roles (John Travolta and Bruce Willis) and there was just too much going right with Pulp Fiction to give any single performance runaway ‘scene stealer’ credit.
#4 Elijah Price in “Unbreakable”
Anyone else remember when M. Night Shyamalan’s movies didn’t completely suck? This highly underrated film featured a perfect, under-the-radar performance by Jackson who portrayed the enigmatic Mr. Glass. Weakness is not a word typically associated with Mr. Jackson, but he displays it full-on, both emotionally and physically in this role.
#3 Mace Windu in “Star Wars Episodes I, II, III”
Every time I find myself driving through a tunnel while holding my breath and wishing that Star Wars Episodes I thru III never happened… I remember Mace Windu and I allow myself to breathe (albeit, reluctantly). I recently subjected myself to Lucas’ overindulgent mess of a trilogy again this past summer and I wanted to shout at the screen for Jackson to buck the script and put an end to both the Emperor and Anakin. While there were many other talented actors in the trilogy who were unable to rise up from the ashes of Lucas’ fire sale of my childhood memories, Jackson prevailed and gave the fans one reason to still buy every dvd, blue-ray, re-released boxed set yet to come.
#2 Carl Lee Hailey in “A Time to Kill”
It seems over time that this movie has drawn a fair amount of criticism for being superficial, overly long and bogged down with overacting (ahem, Mr. McConaughey). I happened to truly enjoy the film, but more importantly, I found Jackson’s performance to be one of his best. As a father, I could relate with his character and the anger he felt toward the men who had harmed his daughter. When it comes to our children, the court’s definition of ‘justice’ can be difficult to accept when the law isn’t able to protect them. Vigilantism is a polarizing topic, but Jackson’s portrayal of Hailey shouldn’t be.
#1 Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Although I have a feeling that most MCU die-hards would list Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark as the one Marvel character whom no other actor could portray, I’m going to nominate Jackson’s Fury as the true champion for this honor. Every time he shows up in a scene, my attention turns to him, waiting eagerly for what he’s going to say next. In many ways, Fury (not the President of the United States) is the leader of the free world in the MCU. Every super (and non-super) hero looks to Fury to lead the way and I believe only Jackson’s shoulders are broad enough to carry that distinction.
Did I leave your favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance off my list? Please tell us about it in the comments section below.