`Casting black actors is still strange for Hollywood. Denzel gets the offer first. Then it's Danny Glover, Forest Whitaker and Wesley Snipes. Right now, I'm the next one on the list."
The speaker is Samuel L. Jackson, and while his name may not ring bells with movie audiences just yet, he is not a young bro from the 'hood, looking to move up quickly and make a big noise in the 'wood. (Hollywood, that is.) At 44, Jackson not only has a solid body of theater and film work behind him ("Ragtime," "Do the Right Thing," "Patriot Games"), but he's also led a complete life away from stage and screen.
Over the next few years, Jackson continued to get large roles in plays, but only small parts in films. That changed in 1991, when Lee cast him as Gator, the crack-addicted brother in "Jungle Fever." It was the pivotal role of his career. Even critics who weren't crazy about the film went nuts over Jackson's performance. At Cannes, he received the film festival's first (and only) supporting actor award. And just like that, his life changed. "There was this running joke I had with my agents. I would come in and ask, `Well, did Hollywood call today?' And they would say `No, no, not today.' Well, after `Jungle Fever,' I called and they said `You know, Sam, Hollywood did call today.' "