At this stage in the game, Samuel L. Jackson is a bonafide living legend in the world of acting. He’s recognized the world over for his distinctive rasp and movie roles ranging from the eccentric (The Spirit, Kingsman: The Secret Service) to the comical (Snakes On A Plane, The Incredibles) to his early work with director Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever). You can also chalk up his iconic status to his extensive work with polarizing director Quentin Tarantino; Jackson has appeared in six of the director’s nine films over the course of 20+ years – more than any other actor.
The duo are wowing audiences once again with The Hateful Eight, a three-hour Western epic that could be Tarantino’s goriest, angriest, and least meta release yet. Either way, Jackson’s role as a former Union soldier turned bounty hunter is one of the movie’s highlights, but is it his best Tarantino role? Check out all six of his roles ranked below.
6. The Narrator in Inglorious Basterds
This is about as minor as roles get, but Jackson’s Narrator still plays a pivotal role in introducing characters and setting up events grindhouse-style throughout the WWII flick. Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa may have had the showy villain role, but introducing the world to Hugo Stiglitz is a high honor in and of itself.
5. “Rufus” in Kill Bill Vol. 2
Another short but sweet showing from Jackson, this time as a mysterious organ player present at The Bride’s wedding. We know some people who would pay top dollar for Sam Jackson to play their wedding.
4. Major Marquis Warren in The Hateful Eight
The bounty-hunting Marquis Warren is The Hateful Eight’s most interesting figure, a former Union soldier stuck in a snowed-in cabin with former Confederates and other shifty bounty hunters. The film’s been divisive for its gore and Tarantino’s continued interest in the N-word, but Jackson’s performance is still easily a standout.
3. Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction
We all know the quotes. We all know the hair. We all know the wallet. Jules Winnfield is the role that endeared Jackson to not only a new generation of film buffs, but the entirety of Hollywood. This role that hot-seared Ezekiel 25:17 into the memories of movie fans the world over was the role that catapulted him into superstardom, and all he had to do was kill Frank Whaley and eat his Big Kahuna burger.
2. Steven in Django Unchained
The bubbling self-hatred that Jackson brings to the conniving house slave Steven gives the otherwise hilariously over-the-top Django Unchained its disturbing edge. Calvin Candy may own the plantation, but this Uncle Ruckus wannabe is its systemically broken-in eyes and ears.
1. Ordell Robbie in Jackie Brown
The movie that revitalized the careers of Pam Grier and Robert Forester also contains one of Jackson’s most under appreciated performances to date. Black Market gun-runner Ordell Robbie is a smooth enough talker to convince someone to get in a trunk before he outright murders them *and* manages to stay one step ahead of an entire group of people fighting over half a million dollars (but not for long).