Before he was one of the highest paid actors of all time, appearing in movies such as Jungle Fever and Do the Right Thing, Star Wars and The Avengers, Samuel L. Jackson was born in Washington D.C. in 1948, and spent the majority of his childhood raised by his grandmother in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He idolized film-making and movies since he was a child, going to the movie theater near where he lived quite often.
Due to being bullied so much in school, after almost a year of not speaking at all, he developed debilitating stutter, which still has an effect on his speech to this day. Interestingly, during an interview with Howard Stern, Jackson explained that his famous use of curse words actually help him control his speech impediment.
Early in his career, Jackson moved to New York to pursue his career in acting (after a 2 year stint of social working in Los Angeles right out of college), and earned several off-Broadway gigs before finally reaching his “break out” role in Pulp Fiction in 1994, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Let’s take a look back at some of the most legendary Samuel L. Jackson quotes and some of his most famous movie lines throughout his long and glorious career.
1. Samuel L. Jackson proves that he still knows the famous Pulp Fiction speech surprisingly often.
People like the Ezekiel speech. I have to say that speech about three times a week to people, just to prove that I still know it.” — Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
2. You know you want to say this every time someone talks during a test.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?” — Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
3. Money can buy happiness.
“Those who say that money can’t buy happiness, never had any.” — Samuel L. Jackson
4. Eyes wide open.
“Look, do you wanna play blind man? Go walk with the shepherd. But me, my eyes are wide f****** open.” — Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
5. People want to be entertained.
“Not everybody goes to movies to get their life changed.” — Samuel L. Jackson
6. The path of the righteous man.
“There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.” Now… I been sayin’ that sh** for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your a**. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherf***er before I popped a cap in his a**. But I saw some sh** this mornin’ made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here… he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous a** in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that sh** ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.” — Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
7. People just want to have fun.
“People go to movies on Saturday to get away from the war in Iraq and taxes and election news and pedophiles online and just go and have some fun. I like doing movies that are fun.” — Samuel L. Jackson
8. Stop being afraid.
“If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.”— Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
9. Don’t create a damaging mindset.
“I walk the streets, take the train, it’s real simple. Some actors create their own mythology: “Oh, I’m so famous I can’t go places, because I created this mythology that I’m so famous I can’t go places.” — Samuel L. Jackson
10. The things people assume.
“What kills me is that everybody thinks I like jazz.” — Samuel L. Jackson
11. He’s not perfect (just like the rest of us).
“I never did one thing right in my life, you know that? Not one. That takes skill.” — Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey, The Long Kiss Goodnight
12. Be the better man.
“The best advice that was given to me was that I had to be 10 times smarter, braver, and more polite to be equal. So I did.” — Samuel L. Jackson
13. Live a life worth living.
“I don’t mind dying, I just don’t wanna go out like some punk.” — Samuel L. Jackson
14. Don’t forget where you came from.
“I guess the worst day I have had was when I had to stand up in rehab in front of my wife and daughter and say, “Hi, my name is Sam and I am an addict.” — Samuel L. Jackson
15. One of the best lines from The Incredibles.
“Where Is My Super Suit?” — Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone. Incredibles
16. Just ignore it.
“Given that it’s a stupid-s** decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.” — Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Avengers
17. Don’t assume things.
“Everyone knows, when you make an assumption, you make an a** out of ‘u’ and ‘umption.'” — Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey, The Long Kiss Goodnight
18. Not the snakes!
“I Have Had It With These Motherf***ing Snakes On This Motherf***ing Plane!” — Samuel L. Jackson as Neville Flynn, Snakes on a Plane
19. We all get older. Even A-List actors.
“I have a lot more energy than I used to have.” — Samuel L. Jackson
20. Speak your mind.
“If you have an opportunity to use your voice you should use it.” — Samuel L. Jackson
21. The other guys.
“You shut your face! If we want to hear you talk, I will shove my arm up your a** and work your mouth like a puppet.” — Samuel L. Jackson, The Other Guys
22. All day, every day.
“I get paid all day, every day, which is almost too much for a sensitive artist.” — Samuel L. Jackson
23. Let your imagination run wild.
“I kind of realize that I have a tendency to choose the kind of films I watched when I was a kid and would go home and pretend with my friends that we were in those movies after we saw them.” — Samuel L. Jackson
24. Don’t let people test you.
“I’m not as angry as I used to be. But I can get in touch with that anger pretty quickly if I feel my space is being invaded or somebody is not treating me with the respect that I think I want.” — Samuel L. Jackson
25. Love your passion.
“I look at myself as an audience member. I still love movies, and I still go and sit in the back of the big dark room with everybody else, and I want the same thrill.” — Samuel L. Jackson
26. Have courage.
“If you do not have courage, you may not have the opportunity to use any of your other virtues.” — Samuel L. Jackson
27. Read a book every day.
“Lifelong readers continue to read, finding in books the means to enjoy life or endure it” — Samuel L. Jackson
28. Remember where you came from.
“People know about the Klan and the overt racism, but the killing of one’s soul little by little, day after day, is a lot worse than someone coming in your house and lynching you.” — Samuel L. Jackson
29. America has evolved in more ways than one.
“We’ve come a long way in our thinking, but also in our moral decay. I can’t imagine Dr. King watching the ‘Real Housewives’ or ‘Jersey Shore.’” — Samuel L. Jackson
30. Do what makes you happy.
“Painters get up and paint. Writers get up and write. I like to get up and act. It’s not a big deal. It makes me happy.” — Samuel L. Jackson
Steven Hall is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.