For the seventh time, AMC will broadcast the 23rd annual American Cinematheque Awards, which this year honored the film career of Samuel L. Jackson.
The special will premiere Tuesday (Dec. 9) at 10 p.m. ET as ” Hollywood Celebrates Samuel L. Jackson: An American Cinematheque Tribute.”
Many of Jackson’s colleagues and past co-stars were in attendance to help celebrate his cinematic accomplishments, including Denzel Washington, Justin Timberlake, George Lopez, Andy Garcia and Sharon Stone.
One running theme of the evening was guessing what the “L” in “Samuel L. Jackson” stands for. Timberlake, who acted in “Black Snake Moan” with Jackson and who started off the evening, said it stood for “Love. Man love.” Lopez said it was definitely not for “Latino.”
Stone put her hands on her hips and purred words such as “Luscious,” “L’amour,” “Ladies love Samuel L. Jackson” — and told a story about seeing Jackson “nekkid” in a movie and then trying to talk to him at a premiere. She eventually got serious, talking about the moral compass he brings to his characters, and saying that the “L” stood for “Legend.”
Denzel Washington said Jackson plays men who can be considered “the righteous who believe they are sinners and the sinners who believe they are righteous.” Vin Diesel called Jackson “a poor man’s acting coach,” and Kerry Washington noted that the actor brings truth to his roles, making his “heroes so imperfect and (his) villains so lovable.”
Also making speeches were Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who used basketball terms to describe Jackson as being as unstoppable as Kobe Bryant, as versatile as Larry Bird and as smooth as Michael Jordan; John Singleton, who told anecdotes from the set of “Shaft”; and Jackson’s wife, LaTanya, who talked of the movies Jackson made with Spike Lee.
After finally accepting the award from his “Star Wars” director George Lucas, Jackson talked about how much the experience of going to the movies meant to him, when he would catch Saturday double features in a segregated theater in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and how important he thinks the Cinematheque’s work is in promoting the social side of filmmaking.
“I felt a bond with everyone in that theater,” Jackson said, according to the AP. “(It was) a kinship that opened up a whole new world.”