Samuel L. Jackson is a man of many faces, but one that ranks among his most iconic is his performance as Jules Winnfield in the iconic 1994 film, Pulp Fiction. However, despite his role being critically-acclaimed, Jackson, who recently received an Honorary Oscar for his creative contributions, lost the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor that year, a defeat many fans feel was unwarranted in hindsight. Jackson spoke on not winning an Oscar for his role in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Pulp Fiction, as well as for his role as “Gator” Purify in the 1991 Spike Lee film Jungle Fever.
“I should have won that one,” said Jackson of the Best Supporting Actor category at the 1992 Academy Awards, which he was snubbed for in favor of the likes of nominees Tommy Lee Jones (JFK), Michael Lerner (Barton Fink), Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley (Bugsy), and winner Jack Palance (City Slickers).
Jackson also highlighted the notion that Black thespians historically have only been awarded for stereotypical roles that cast them as destructive or self-deprecating. “My wife and I went to see Bugsy. Damn! They got nominated and I didn’t? I guess Black folk usually win for doing despicable sh*t on screen. Like Denzel [Washington] for being a horrible cop in Training Day. All the great stuff he did in uplifting roles like Malcolm X? No—we’ll give it to this motherf*cker. So maybe I should have won one. But Oscars don’t move the comma on your cheque—it’s about getting asses in seats and I’ve done a good job of doing that.”
The acting legend also proposed that the Academy add a “Most Popular Film” category to differentiate when a movie is being awarded based on its returns at the box office, as opposed to the merit of its artistry. “All movies are valid,” noted the Iron Man actor. “Some go to the cinema to be moved dearly. Some like superheroes. If somebody has more butts on seats it just means your audience is not as broad. There are people who have had successful careers but nobody can recite one line of their parts. I’m the guy who says sh*t that’s on a T-shirt.”