Samuel L. Jackson Honors Late Shaft Star Richard Roundtree

2000’s Shaft star Samuel L. Jackson pays tribute to the franchise’s original lead star, Richard Roundtree, who passed away at age 81.

Samuel L. Jackson Pays Tribute to Late Shaft Actor Richard Roundtree

Samuel L. Jackson remembers Shaft star Richard Roundtree as the star who paved the way for actors like him.

Jackson posted his tribute to Roundtree on Instagram with a picture of the actors from the ending of 2019’s Shaft reboot starring Jessie T. Usher. The tribute comes following the announcement of Roundtree’s passing at age 81. “Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!!” Jackson wrote.

“SHAFT, as we know it is & will always be His Creation!! His passing leaves a deep hole not only in my heart, but I’m sure a lotta y’all’s, too. Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle of Main Street in Heaven & Issac’s Conducting your song coat blowin’ in wind!! Angels whispering, That Cat SHAFT Is A Bad Mutha, Shutcho Mouth!! But I’m Talkin’ Bout SHAFT!! THEN WE CAN DIGIT.'”

SHAFT (2019) – Samuel L. Jackson Dominates, Richard Roundtree Returns, But  Film Flounders | This Is My Creation: The Blog of Michael Arruda

Roundtree originated the role of John Shaft in the 1971 detective thriller directed by Gordon Parks and based on the novels by Ernest Tidyman.

Famous for its depiction of a militant black hero accompanied by an Oscar-winning musical score by Isaac Hayes, Shaft was a hit that gave rise to the blaxploitation genre of cinema of the ’70s with classics such as Superfly, Coffy and Dolemite. Roundtree reprised the role in 1972’s Shaft’s Big Score and 1973’s Shaft in Africa. Additionally, he headlined the short-lived CBS series of the same name from 1973 to 1974.

Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree Teamed Up in Two Shaft Films

Jackson would team up with Roundtree in John Singleton’s Shaft reboot in 2000. Singleton initially wanted to make a father-and-son tale with Roundtree’s Shaft playing opposite either Don Cheadle or Chris Tucker as his son.

When MGM rejected the idea, Singleton took the project to Paramount where they signed on Jackson to play the title character’s cop nephew with Roundtree making an extended cameo.

Jackson and Roundtree reunited in the 2019 Shaft directed by Tim Story which played as an action comedy rather than a serious detective movie. That movie played up the joke about the actors’ age difference being too short to be uncle and nephew. Instead, it reconned the 2000 movie by revealing Roundtree’s Shaft as the father of Jackson.

Roundtree passed away on October 24th following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. “Artists & Representatives Agency mourns the loss of our friend and client Richard Roundtree,” a statement from Roundtree’s agency Artists & Representatives noted.

“His trailblazing career changed the face of entertainment around the globe and his enduring legacy will be felt for generations to come. Our hearts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

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