Samuel L. Jackson
One of the busiest performers in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson's prolific list of credits reflected a career born out of turbulent life experiences and shaped by theater and cinema, ultimately making him one of America's leading actors. An active participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Jackson redirected much of his energies into his stagecraft as a co-founder of the Just-Us Theatre, and later, as a member of New York's famed Negro Ensemble Company for more than a decade. Television guest spots and bit parts in low-budget movies eventually gave way to standout performances as an ensemble player in such seminal films as "Do the Right Thing" (1989), "Jurassic Park" (1993) and Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" (1994). (Jackson went on to work regularly with the writer-director, appearing in nearly all of Tarantino's films, including "Jackie Brown" (1997), "Django Unchained" (2012) and "The Hateful Eight" (2015).) Suddenly one of the hottest leads in Hollywood, Jackson was appearing in an average of five films a year, including M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" (2000) and George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels. Equally at home in high art projects as well as unapologetic schlock, Jackson often enjoyed himself in campy efforts like the outlandish thriller "Snakes on a Plane" (2006). After setting things up with a cameo in the Marvel Studios adventure "Iron Man" (2008), Jackson's S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury led a team of volatile superheroes in the summer blockbuster "The Avengers" (2012) and its sequel "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015). While Jackson's intense demeanor and pitch perfect ear for street dialogue could effortlessly convey a terrifying menace, his impressive skills with comedy and traditional drama allowed him to shine in a virtually unlimited range of material.