Without a doubt, his 1994 portrayal of Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction” is one of Samuel L. Jackson's greatest roles. Playing a mob hit man alongside John Travolta, Jackson delivers a superb performance in this neo-noire classic. Not surprisingly, he garnered an Academy Award nomination for his dry wit and ability to portray a hardboiled cliché gangster.
Rev. Fred Sultan.
In 1996, the actor took on satire. Playing Rev. Fred Sultan in “The Great White Hype,” Jackson puts his spin on the stereotypical smarmy fight promoter. Playing off the comedic talents of Cheech Marin and Jon Lovitz, the character tackles the topics of racism within the boxing world. This is a crowd pleaser but falls flat as a date movie.
Col. Terry L. Childers.
A military drama highlights another one of Samuel L. Jackson's roles. In this case he plays a Vietnam War lieutenant. From there, the time moves on to 1996; Childers is now in the Persian Gulf. In both instances Jackson plays a military man who issues questionable orders that are later shown to be justified. During a resulting court martial, the actor’s full range of dramatic acting is portrayed. To fully appreciate this movie, you need to be a diehard military movie fan.
Coach Ken Carter.
The year 2005 found Jackson in-between acting jobs. The role of highly controversial coach Ken Carter was perfect. The movie outlines the events surrounding the 1999 benching of the Richmond High School basketball team because of lax academics. The film is a mixed bag with respect to a happy ending–not a date movie!–but it capitalizes on Jackson’s legendary ability to infuse solid character into the roles he plays. From this angle, “Coach Carter” is unbeatable.
Captain America.” Jackson plays Nick Fury, who has a very minor role in this pulp-fiction-turned-movie extravaganza. What sets apart the actor’s performance here is not the size of the role but the gravitas he offers to even just a minor appearance. Do not watch the movie just to see Jackson; instead, enjoy it for the action and the detonations. Then look for the actor in the end–you cannot miss him.
It is noteworthy that Samuel L. Jackson's five greatest roles do not always show him as a hero. In fact, he is quite comfortable in the role of anti-hero and feels at home in satire, film noire and documentary action. Who else can boast this type of resume?