Wesley Snipes is many things to many people: actor, producer, martial artist, and all around bad dude. Whether it’s as an action hero, a stoic gangster, or a less larger-than life figure, his on-screen roles have kept him a fan-favorite actor for decades; even amid a felony charge for tax evasion back in 2008, I can remember die-hard fans never counting Snipes out and always asking when the next
Blade movie was coming down the pike.
It’s been years since Snipes has headlined anything significant (2009’s Brooklyn’s Finest might be the last time), but his name still finds its way into the mouths of movie fans across the world, especially now that rumors of he and Marvel teaming up for more Blade movies are starting to pop off again. In honor of the man’s birthday, here’s a look at 10 instances of Wesley Snipes at his most iconic, from then to now.
Mini Max in Bad
His career may have started in 1986’s Wildcats, but Snipes’ first big break came in the form of Mini Max in the Martin Scorsese-directed music video for the Michael Jackson song Bad; in reality an 18-minute (!!) short film about a private school kid attempting to reconnect with his gangster friends – through song and dance! Snipes’ chemistry with Jackson proved early on that he was someone to watch.
Shadow Handerson in Mo’ Better Blues
Shortly after the Bad video, Spike Lee was clamoring to get Snipes in one of his movies. While he initially turned down a role in Do The Right Thing, Snipes showed face in Mo’ Better Blues as a saxophone player constantly butting heads with his friend/bandleader Bleek (Denzel Washington). He’s also the paranoid cheating type.
Nino Brown in New Jack City
Mobster supreme Nino Brown had one-liners and charisma to spare in New Jack City. Nino pleasantly confirmed Snipes’ rise in popularity.
Flip Purify in Jungle Fever
The second linking between Spike Lee and Snipes, Jungle Fever is the story of Flip (Snipes) and Angie (Annabella Sciorra), an interracial couple attempting to love each other while dealing with the segregated fallout from their respective families and society at large. This would be a tough role for any actor, but Snipes brought a determination that shined through.
Syd Deane in White Men Can’t Jump
Snipes moved to a *much* more lighthearted flick next as streetballer Syd Deane in White Men Can’t Jump alongside Woody Harrelson. It’s considered by many to be one of the best comedies of the 90s, due in no small part to the chemistry between Snipes and Harrelson.
John Cutter in Passenger 57
“Always bet on black.” ‘Nuff said.
Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man
As psychopathic criminal Simon Phoenix, Demolition Man was Snipes’s first foray into the worlds of science fiction and action; and proved to New Line Cinemas and Marvel Comics that he might just be the right man for…
Blade in Blade
…Blade! Chances are, if you’re a film buff of a certain age, Snipes and this vampire exterminator are practically synonymous. This 1998 masterpiece directed by Guillermo del Toro (yes that one) not only cemented Snipes’ status as a bonafide superstar, it was also the film that kicked off Hollywood’s obsession with superhero movies. This, 2000’s X-Men, and 2002’s Spider-Man being huge successes at the box office proved that heroes could mean big bucks and no more flops like Batman and Robin or Howard the Duck.
Franklin Swift in Disappearing Acts
Snipes was also in a handful of TV movies, the most notable of which is the romance Disappearing Acts, directed by Love and Basketball and Beyond The Lights head Gina Prince-Bythewood.