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Samuel L. Jackson knows what it’s like to be nominated for an Oscar. It was once often said that winning an Academy Award could offer an actor a significant career boost. But Jackson wasn’t sure about that myth.

Samuel L. Jackson wanted to be paid more more than his Oscar-winning co-star to prove a point

Samuel L. Jackson posing in a black suit at the 2023 Women's Guild Cedars Sinai Crystal Ball honoring Samuel and Latanya Jackson at Beverly Wilshire.
Samuel L. Jackson | Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Jackson has been very candid about his feelings towards both the Oscars and Oscar-bait films. At one point, he himself was excited by the opportunity of securing an award for Pulp Fiction. He admitted to being disappointed by the loss, but years later he wasn’t too concerned about it.

“As jaded as I wanted to be about it, you know thinking, ‘Well, I should have won an Oscar for this or should have won for that and it didn’t happen,’ once I got over it many years ago, it wasn’t a big deal for me. I always have fun going to the Oscars. I always look forward to getting a gift basket for being a presenter,” he said in a 2022 interview with the LA Times.

Jackson made it a point not to chase Oscar movies, and only did features if he was passionate about them. He also questioned how much winning an Oscar might’ve enhanced an actor’s career. Whereas years ago being an Oscar-winner was a big deal, Jackson believed its overall influence might’ve diminished.

“I don’t think an Oscar moves the comma on your check like it used to,” Jackson said in a separate interview with the LA Times. “Because it’s all about [people] in seats.”

Jackson illustrated his point by purposefully making more than an unnamed Oscar-winner who brought in less box-office money than he did.

“I remember doing a movie with an Academy Award-winner,” he said. “I specifically had a clause in my contract that said I had to make a million more dollars than him because he doesn’t put [people] in seats — I do. It’s knowing who you are and what you’re doing.”

The Academy once floated around the idea of creating another category for the Oscars. The section would’ve been dedicated to movies that generated a lot of attention and money at the box-office. Jackson was once one of the biggest supporters of this idea. And although it never came to fruition, Jackson remained a fan of the popular movies category even years later.

“That is cinema! That’s what we go into the big, dark room to do — to be entertained,” Jackson said. “That’s what we’re celebrating, the big s*** that happened in Hollywood. Best actor, best actress … that’s some bulls***. That’s a popularity contest. Or so I heard way back when when Martin Landau got the award [for Ed Wood] and I didn’t. ‘C’mon, Sam. Martin’s been nominated so many times. Don’t worry. Your time is coming.’ Excuse me? I didn’t know that’s how it worked. I thought it was the acting performance that made the most impact.”

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During the interview, it was mentioned that Jackson hadn’t been nominated for an Oscar since Pulp Fiction. Jackson did win an honorary Lifetime Achievement award in 2022, but that was due to his overall contributions to the film industry. To be nominated for an actual performance, Jackson felt he had an opportunity to be recognized for another Quentin Tarantino feature.

“Everything I’ve done for Quentin has a moment that’s given me an opportunity, from Jackie Brown to The Hateful Eight to Django [Unchained]. Django was probably my best shot because it’s the most evil character I’ve ever played and they generally reward Black people for playing horrendous s***,” he said.