When I first saw the post on Wendell’s blog about the Acting Black Blogathon, somehow my first inclination is to write about Wesley Snipes.
I know there are a ton of other great Black actors I admire – Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, etc. but I watched an interview w/ Mr. Snipes recently, when he was promoting his NBC show The Player (which I still might watch just for Snipes), and I was struck by how affable, charismatic and humble he is. Thankfully he got a second leash on his career after being imprisoned for tax fraud (he was sentenced on April 24, 2008) and he came back a wiser man instead of being a bitter recluse.
It reminded me how much I enjoyed watching him as an actor. He may not be an Oscar caliber performer like Denzel but he’s got immense charisma. Though he’s mostly known for his action movies, I actually like him in dramatic roles as well, which I think he should do more of. In fact, I think he’s typecast for being the tough-guy-with-a-heart but I think he’s capable for gfLooking at his resume, there are some films of his I still need to see, i.e. The Fan, The Art of War, Unstoppable, and his most recent, Chi-Raq by Spike Lee. His career definitely peaked in the 90s, hence most of my fave movies of his are from that decade.
So here are five of my favorite Wesley Snipes roles that I’ve seen so far:
1. Blade (1998)
Before Kate Beckinsale became a sexy vampire warrior in Underworld and those emo, sparkly Twilight vampires that reportedly Snipes himself wanted to hunt down, we’ve got an uber cool, genuinely bad ass vampire hybrid. I mean, even his moniker alone sounds cool and dangerous. Deadpool is definitely NOT the first R-rated comic-book movie out there, and I remember this movie was filled w/ some bloody action scenes, just what one would expect from a vampire hunter movie. I love the look of Blade here, his uniform, his sunglasses, even his ride (1968 Dodge Charger). But it’s Snipes as the half human/half bloodsucker who’s the star here, oozing such swagger and quiet grace as the unlikely hero worth rooting for. I also like Kris Kristofferson as his mentor, who some reviewers mentioned as having that Obi-Wan quality. I for one would love to see Blade 4 at some point. Heck, why not? Especially since R-rated comic-book flicks are back in fashion again now.
2. Waiting to Exhale (1995)
For some reason his role wasn’t credited in the film, but I always remember Snipes in a brief role as James Wheeler. From the moment he appeared at a bar, approaching Angela Bassett’s character who just went through a divorce, I immediately like his character. I wish he’d do more dramatic films, even a romantic drama, as he certainly can pull off the romantic hero role. I love this film by Forest Whitaker, which I’ve rewatched a few times. Some of my fave roles are the ones of Snipes and Bassett. There’s a scene of them in a hotel room. “Lets make tonight beautiful” Snipes’ character said, which would’ve been ultra cheesy in a Nicholas Sparks’ movie, but here it’s poignant because it wasn’t sexual. It was two people who’ve been through some tough times (divorce, deceased spouse) who found a soulful connection. It was a genuinely intimate moment that’s rarely seen in cinema, it still moved me to this day.
3. Rising Sun (1993)
It’s been ages since I saw this but I remember really liking this thriller based on Michael Crichton’s novel. In fact, I might give it a rewatch at some point. I like the pairing of him w/ Sean Connery as the Japanese expert, which is funny when I think about it as he ludicrously tried to pass as a Japanese in the Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Some people say there’s an awkward chemistry between these two, but I think the fact that they had such different background, it’s to be expected and works well as a cultural thriller. It’s not quite a buddy-cop type movie, but the interplay between Snipes and Connery are more fun to watch than the action. I think Snipes held his own against his older & wiser co-star. Both are immensely watchable, and the mystery aspect was pretty intriguing.
4. Passenger 57 (1992)
I read this article about actors who deserve a Taken-style comeback and it included Mr. Snipes. Heck, I think Snipes was one of the action stars who popularized the reluctant hero roles, those who minded their own business but ended up being dragged into some violent predicaments.
I LOVE Snipes as John Cutter, a hard-working anti-terrorist agent who boarded a plane with an international terrorist under FBI custody. I’m sure Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop is partly inspired by this w/ the action hero playing an air marshal no less. It’s interesting that because of the color of his skin, he’s not immediately believed to be the good guy who’s trying to save everyone. I think that adds a certain an intriguing edge than if the role were to be played by white action stars like Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, etc. Bruce Payne is pretty darn scary too as the villain, he reminds me a bit of Hans Gruber here and of course he’s also a Brit.
5. Demolition Man (1993)
Snipes has played a fair share of good guys and law enforcement types, so it’s nice to see him relishing at being bad. With platinum blond Afro & half blue eyes no less! He played Simon Phoenix, a convicted crime lord who’s revived for a parole hearing well into the 21st century. Of course he immediately resumes his murderous rampage, with no one to stop him, except Sly Stallone of course, who else? Sandra Bullock is quite memorable here too in one of her earlier action roles. Yes this is a pretty cheesy action flick of the 90s but heck I enjoyed it, and I still remember that epic death scene at the end! Liquid nitrogen anyone? Snipes was deliciously over the top here with his manic energy. It’s definitely one of the most fun 90’s sci-fi action flicks.
So what’s YOUR favorite Wesley Snipes’ role(s)?
29 thoughts on “Acting Black Blogathon: 5 Favorite Roles of Wesley Snipes”
I liked Snipes in The Art of War (2000) – an action thriller set in and around the UN in NYC, Money Train, White Men Can’t Jump, New Jack City, and King of New York. All of which I’d watch again. With the exception of White Men Can’t Jump – all of the films I liked him in were New York based action and drama thrillers.
Strangely, I didn’t much care for Blade, or Demolition Man meaning I’d pass watching them again on TV.
Hey Mike! Oh I gotta see The Art of War. It’s gunny but in Passenger 57 he was reading that book on the plane, who knew he’d be playing in the film adaptation of that book later in his career? He was in so many movies in the 90s, so I guess there’s always something for everyone.
I love Wesley Snipes and have seen most of his films. Hope he gets a big screen comeback like Stallone did. I know Stallone tried to help him by casting him in The Expendables 3 but that film tanked so maybe some other filmmaker will give him another shot.
If you want to see him in more dramatic roles, please check out NEW JACK CITY, BOILING POINT, SUGAR HILL, MO’ BETTER BLUES, JUNGLE FEVER & KING OF NEW YORK.
I loved the novel Rising Sun but the film was okay, his character was white in the book, in order to make the film less “racist”, they cast a black actor for that role. I recently watched Passenger 57, I still enjoyed it but it’s so badly directed and written but Snipes and Payne were great; their roles were so cartoonish though. Demolition Man was a lot of fun and had it been made by a more talented director, it could’ve been a great sci-fi/action/comedy. I loved the Blade films except the third one, which was mess. Other films that enjoyed from him were White Men Can’t Jump, Major League (he’s hilarious in that movie), Money Train, Murder at 1600, US Marshals and The Art of War.
I decided to avoid all of his recent strait to home video movies.
Hello Ted! Awesome that you’ve seen a ton of Snipes’ movies! I will definitely check out those movie you mentioned. How about Art of War, is that any good?
Yeah I think they changed the name of Snipes character from Peter, which I have no issues with. I actually like the pairing of him w/ Connery. Passenger 57 is pretty cheesy at times but then again so are a lot of 90s movies, ahah. I haven’t seen Blade 3 actually, but I LOVE him in that character generally, and boy I’d love to see him butcher all the Twilight kids, ahah.
Art of War was a decent action thriller, I believe it’s one of his later films that still got a theatrical release. After Blade 3, I think that’s when he got in trouble with the IRS and most of his movies went direct to home video release.
I thought the casting of Connery was spot on in Rising Sun and he has good chemistry with Snipes. The movie was pretty close to the book except the ending, again to make it less “racist” they changed the real villain to a white guy.
YOU LOVE DEMOLITION MAN?!!!!!! I FUCKING LOVE THAT MOVIE!!!!! Wesley was awesome in that film. He was this unlikely villain you can’t help but love. I also loved the fact that even though he was a villain that was dangerous and immoral. He was also funny but I also liked his scenes with Nigel Hawthorne including their last meeting where it was clear that Hawthorne’s character is way more evil as I just love what the Simon Phoenix character says… “Hey wait a minute, you can’t change people’s right to act like assholes. Yeah, that’s what you are. An evil Mr. Rogers.”
I love the guy and wishes he can get a comeback. It’s overdue. One of my other favorite things from him is in Major League… “shit, I’ve been cut already?”
Ahah, I LOVE your enthusiasm Steven! I think he’s great as a bad guy, he seems to play a ton of good guys, esp cops, so it’s good to see him revel in being bad! I really should watch it again, I remember enjoying it a lot! He’s also in Major League? I should check that out as well.
Yep, he’s Willie Mays Hayes. Hits like Mays and runs like Hayes…. “Well, you may run like Mays but you hit like shit”. “Nice catch Hayes, don’t ever fucking do it again”. I can quote that film to death.
I’ve seen Waiting to Exhale several times and never realized his role was uncredited. He was a well known actor at the time. I wonder why they didn’t throw his name on it somewhere. His work here provided me with one of the most magical theater going moments of my life. When it was made clear for the audience that he and Bassett’s character DID NOT have sex, the entire room (mostly women) erupted in applause. I really did get goosebumps.
Others have given you a rundown of more of his work. I highly encourage seeking some of it out even though what you have here is fantastic. I will disagree with one thing and say that I think he is not only capable of Oscar caliber work, he has already done it in New Jack City. He was arguably just as good in Sugar Hill. Both characters were drug dealers, but couldn’t be more different than one another. Ted, above, gave you a nice list of films to check out.
Thanks for participating and pushing to meet the deadline. You turned in a wonderful post!
Hi Dell! Thanks for hosting this blogathon. I’ve been wanting to talk about Wesley Snipes for a while so this pushed me to finally get on that. I LOVE that scene in Waiting to Exhale exactly for the reason you said. I guess I shouldn’t have said that he wasn’t Oscar caliber as I haven’t seen all of his work, so I’ll definitely give those films that you & Ted recommended!
Doing this list made me want to even rewatch a bunch of his movies!
I’ve only seen the Blade movies and I barely remember them! I have failed. lol. He was just in Chi-Raq that I watched, small role, but important.
Hi Brittani! Oh you should check out his 90s action flicks, esp Passenger 57 and Rising Sun. I might give Chi-Raq a shot at some point.
I am glad you picked him.
Have you seen Waiting to Exhale? He’s not on for very long but I remember his scenes to this day, it left such a lasting impression on me.
Kinda-sorta. My memory is foggy about that one.
Haven’t seen many of Snipes movies, so now I have a good excuse to see them, nice list. He’s so cool, calm and sophisticated as Mr. Johnson in TV’s The Player. It’s great to see him on the small screen.
Hi Becky! You should check out Waiting to Exhale! I LOVE that movie, it’s funny and poignant, and the brief appearance of Mr. Snipes is lovely. I should check out The Player soon!
I haven’t seen any of these movies. (I read the novel Waiting to Exhale.) Even though it might not be his most notable role, I really like him in Major League. That’s such a fun movie, and Snipes, Sheen, and the other guys have good chemistry.
Someone else has mentioned Major League too so now I want to see it!!
Fine list, Ruth. No doubt, his “Blade” character (at least the first two film) are among my favorites. So, too, his work in “Rising Sun” and the wonderfully villainous role in “Demolition Man”. If you haven’t, take a gander at this work with Spike Lee. It’s what got him notice. “Jungle Fever” and “Mo’ Better Blues” are my favorites.
Hey thanks Michael! I really need to watch more of his stuff, so yeah definitely the Spike Lee ones as well. I’m hoping he’d get more leading film roles again.
Funnily enough – just watched White Men Can’t Jump again and I think he’s terrific in that film. Him and Woody Harrelson make a great duo on-screen which has clearly worked for them on more than one occasion.
Hi Dan! Man I still need to see that one in its entirety, I’ve only seen clips of it but I like both actors a lot!
White Men Can’t Jump! (and Jungle Fever)
I still need to see both of those!
Haha, of these, I’ve only seen Blade and Passenger 57, but he’s very entertaining in them. I’ll throw out another mention for White Men Can’t Jump and Jungle Fever as my favorites.
Wow, White Men Can’t Jump and Jungle Fever get so much love. I better see those two soon!