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Many would consider Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to be Samuel L. Jackson’s starring role. But Jackson himself once expressed a different opinion on the matter. For the Marvel superstar, it wasn’t Pulp Fiction that really put him on the map. Instead, he considered the Die Hard franchise as his true introduction to megastardom.

Bruce Willis handpicked Samuel L. Jackson for ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’

Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Many were blown away by Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as Jules in Pulp Fiction, which is evident given his Oscar nomination. But Bruce Willis, Jackson’s own Pulp Fiction co-star, was also thoroughly impressed by Jackson’s acting. So much so that he personally picked and recommended the Django Unchained star for his next Die Hard movie.

“Sam’s last speech in Pulp Fiction just blew me away,” Willis said according to The Morning Call. “He’s talking about redemption, but he’s funny too. Early on, I made a point of screening the movie for John McTiernan.”

This was perfect for Jackson, who happened to be a huge fan of the Die Hard movies.

“If I’m channel surfing and I come across Bruce, I’ll stop and say, ‘I’m gonna watch this scene.’ Especially if it’s that scene where he has to run across the glass. Next thing you know, I’ve watched the whole movie,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen the first ‘Die Hard’ maybe 30 times. I was always really jealous of Reginald Vel Johnson because he got the job as a cop in the first two movies. I said to myself, ‘Where was I when they were auditioning people for that?!’”

How ‘Die Hard’ did more for Samuel L. Jackson than ‘Pulp Fiction’

Pulp Fiction may be on many people’s top ten lists. But in the beginning, the Oscar-nominee felt that Die Hard was more important for his career than the Tarantino feature.

“Well, I became a recognizable star after that film,” Jackson told Vogue about Pulp Fiction. “But I don’t know about a big star.”

It was actually Bruce Willis who informed Jackson how big he was going to be after starring in Die Hard.

“Actually, here’s the thing,” Jackson began. “Bruce Willis and I were doing Die Hard with a Vengeance when Pulp Fiction came out and we went to Cannes together to watch Pulp Fiction play for the first time. We both thought, ‘Wow, this is great!’ And Bruce said, ‘Yeah, this is good and this film will make you recognizable, but Die Hard’s going to make you a star. Die Hard will change your life.’”

Jackson asserted that Willis was right in his predictions.

“And it’s true. Die Hard with a Vengeance was the highest-grossing film in the world that year. That changed the agenda,” he shared.

The actor also revealed that the character he played in Die Hard was the closest to Jackson in terms of personality.

“That was the only time I perceived myself as playing myself, because it was my job to be the audience member on the inside of a Die Hard film reacting to John McClane the way an audience member would react,” he said.

Samuel L. Jackson on returning to the ‘Die Hard’ franchise


Why Samuel L. Jackson Is Difficult for Some Directors to Work With

There have been several rumors over the years of how the next Die Hard film will play out. Some fans have even clamored for Jackson to reprise his role as Zeus Carver and reunite with Willis for a sequel. But when Irish Post brought up the possibility of Jackson returning for another Die Hard film, the Star Wars alum had this to say.

“I’ve heard people say they are doing another Die Hard and they are going to put Zeus back in it and I’m just like ‘okay, fine, let me know when that happens.’ Otherwise I’ll just keep going to work,” he said. “Of course [I would like to return], I love Zeus Carver. He’s a great character.”