Samuel L. Jackson has been one of Hollywood's biggest stars for decades, appearing in blockbuster hits as well as critical darlings that have garnered awards attention. But just how well do you know him?
Jackson is ranked as the all-time highest-grossing box office star with a total of his movies grossing $10.1 billion domestically as of June 2021. His most commercially successful movies include the "Avengers" franchise, the 1996 crime drama "A Time to Kill," the original "Incredibles" movie from 2004, and the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film "Django Unchained."
Jackson was born in Tennessee and went on to attend the historically Black Morehouse College, where he started out as a marine biology major before switching to acting.
During his college years, Jackson became involved in the civil rights movement and served as an usher at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral after his assassination in 1967. The assassination moved him to become more deeply involved in the movement: "I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn’t shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different -- not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence," he told Parade in 2005.
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Jackson was expelled from Morehouse after he and his peers held several members of the college's board of trustees hostage, including MLK's father, to demand reform in the school's curriculum and governance. The expulsion galvanized Jackson and he became involved with the Black Power movement. However, after FBI agents visited his house and told his mother that he was not likely to survive the year if he remained in Atlanta, his mother put him on a plane to Los Angeles. He returned to Morehouse in 1971 to receive his acting degree.
Jackson made his film debut in the 1972 independent feature "Together for Days," a blaxploitation movie about the relationship between a white woman and a Black radical, but he did not achieve stardom until his role in Quentin Tarantino's breakout 1994 crime drama "Pulp Fiction."
In 1974, Jackson met his future wife, LaTanya Richardson, at a student rehearsal in Atlanta. It was love at first sight: "We started talking, and boom! I knew she was the person for me. From then on, we were always together, and we’ve stayed that way," he told Parade in a 2005 interview. The couple have been together for more than 40 years and have one daughter.
Jackson entered the New York theater scene in 1976, where he hung out with the likes of Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes and Alfre Woodard. His time in the theater remains central to Jackson's acting: “I’m a theater actor. It’s a different breed. Actors create characters. Movie stars are eye candy. They come and go.”
Jackson described himself as a "hard taskmaster for some directors” in a 2017 interview with The New York Times. He said that he refuses to do extra takes and that he includes a special requirement in virtually all his contracts: the ability to golf twice a week.