Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most prolific actors in the film industry, having appeared in over 150 movies. With that many works to his name, fans might be wondering about Samuel L. Jackson’s first movie.
Samuel L. Jackson’s first movie was the 1972’s blaxploitation film, Together for Days. The independent film followed the relationship of an interracial couple and the trials and tribulations their relationship faced.
Blaxploitation as a Genre
Blaxploitation films were a popular subgenre of American cinema in the late 1970s. Though not without controversy, the films introduced audiences to many African American actors, were the first films to feature funk and soul music, and were part of the evolving race relations in the United States in that era.
Southern Roots, Civil Rights and the Black Power Movement
Jackson recalls the effect of segregation on his childhood in an interview with Kelly Ripa, telling the tv host, “I learned a lot of lessons that most people don’t have to learn today, or shouldn’t have to learn.”
Despite the frustrating social climate at the school, Jackson excelled at extracurricular programs, taking up music and becoming part of the school’s orchestra. He also chose to pursue marine biology when he attended Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
However, after joining a local theater troupe to earn extra credit for a class, Jackson switched his major to theater and decided to pursue acting. However, Jackson’s focus was not solely on acting.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Samuel became involved with the civil rights movement. However, after becoming involved with a radical faction of the movement, the FBI became aware of his presence and that worried his mom.
In an interview with Parade magazine, Jackson recalls his mom showing up and demanding he leave Atlanta. “My mom showed up and put me on a plane to L.A. She said, ‘Do not come back to Atlanta.’ The FBI had been to the house and told her that if I didn’t get out of Atlanta, there was a good possibility I’d be dead within a year. She freaked out.’”
In Los Angeles, he worked as a social worker for a couple years, before ultimately returning to Atlanta to finish his degree. After his return to Atlanta, he moved to New York and worked in stage plays over the next few years.
Together for Days
Very little is known about Samuel L. Jackson’s first film, Together for Days. It’s incredibly hard to find and some think the master copy may have been destroyed or lost to time.
Jackson does not seem upset by his first film role being lost to the annals of history, telling tv show host Jay Leno, “Don’t go looking for it.” Though the actor was joking, he seemed to realize that his first film role was not his best work.
Personal Demons, Minor Roles and Jungle Fever
Samuel L. Jackson worked consistently in minor roles over the next two decades, often appearing alongside major stars such as Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby. However, at the same time Jackson was dealing with a major drug dependency, overdosing several times throughout the years.
Jackson’s family finally got him into rehab and it was shortly after that he was cast in his breakthrough role in the Spike Lee film, Jungle Fever. Ironically, Jackson played a crack addict in the film, but held steadfast to his sobriety.
The film was praised by critics and Samuel L. Jackson was awarded the best supporting actor trophy at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Jungle Fever opened the door to fame for Jackson and in the following years he worked with famed director, Steven Spielberg, on the blockbuster hit Jurassic Park, and he met frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino.
Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill and Shaft
After having worked with Tarantino on True Romance, Jackson was offered the role of Jules in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino had originally written the role for Laurence Fishburne, who ultimately turned the offer down.
It was the lucky twist of fate that made Samuel L. Jackson a superstar and household name. Starring alongside John Travolta, Pulp Fiction has a non-linear plot and mainly follows two hitmen (played by Jackson and Travolta) as they try to retrieve and deliver a briefcase to their boss.
The movie premiered at Cannes and shocked the festival by taking home the top prize, the famed Palme d’Or. Stateside, it opened to critical acclaim and became one of the most famous pop culture icons of the 1990s, netting Jackson a Golden Globe nomination.
Jackson’s star turn in the movie made him into a leading man overnight. He took on a slew of roles afterwards, including that of a grieving father out for vigilante justice in the film adaptation of A Time to Kill. Starring alongside Matthew McConaughey and Keifer Sutherland, this role landed Jackson his second Golden Globe nomination.
Samuel L. Jackson continued to work on a variety of movies and was a veritable box office star. He took part in the Star Wars prequels as Mace Windu, battled sharks in Deep Blue Sea, and scored a fourth Golden Globe nomination during that time.
As the decade wound to a close, Samuel L. Jackson was offered the title role in the remake of Shaft. The film opened at number one at the box office and was another huge win for Jackson’s already storied career.
Nick Fury and the Marvel Universe
Samuel L. Jackson continued to work consistently over the next decade and audiences saw his characters battle everything from snakes to bad guys. However, no one was prepared for Jackson’s biggest career success, which saw him battling alongside superheroes in Marvel’s The Avengers and Captain America franchises.
You can watch Samuel L. Jackson discuss the biggest role of his career in the YouTube video below.
Looking to the Future
Samuel L. Jackson has become a permanent fixture in Hollywood and a pop culture icon. Though the actor is in his 70s, he shows no signs of slowing down, with films in various stages of production over the next few years.
Though Jackson’s first film, Together for Days, may be a role the actor would like to forget about, it introduced the actor to the film industry and therefore helped set the stage to his illustrious career.