Samuel L. Jackson, 70, will be reprising his role as John Shaft's nephew alongside Richard Roundtree for this year's Shaft film, which hits theaters on Friday
Three generations of Shaft characters gathered together at the premiere of the new film in New York City on Monday, with Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jessie T. Usher posing for pictures just days before the film’s June 14th release.
Roundtree was the original Shaft star, and the 76-year-old is once again playing the role of John Shaft I, with Jackson, 70, playing John Shaft II. Meanwhile, 27-year-old franchise newcomer Usher will portray John Shaft Jr.
Jackson praised Roundtree’s contributions to cinema, hailing the actor as “one of our heroes” in an interview with the New York Daily News at Monday night’s premiere.
“He’s kind of iconic in our community and in our mythology,” Jackson told the News. “He’s one of our heroes, and we don’t want to make him be a buffoon or a fool in any way.”
“To have a guy like that who was unapologetically black, brave, cool and irreverent was a revelation,” said the actor, who was 22 when Shaft initially hit theaters in July 1971.
“By the time the Blaxploitation era hit, people tried to disparage it in an interesting sort of way, but we wanted it,” Jackson added to the outlet. “We needed it. I’ve been going to movies all my life, so it was important that I see people who were heroes, who were sticking it to the Man, which is what basically those movies were.”
Roundtree played the iconic private eye for three films as well as a TV show, with the first Shaft film released in 1971, and the two sequels in 1972 and 1973. The Shaft television series aired on CBS back from 1973 to 1974.
This isn’t the first time Jackson has acted alongside Roundtree in a Shaft film, having already played the character of John Shaft II — who is Shaft’s nephew — in a 2000 remake.
Usher, a newcomer to the Shaft franchise, plays Jackson’s character’s son and Roundtree’s character’s great-nephew.
The film also stars Alexandra Shipp and Regina Hall, who were at Monday’s premiere as well.
Shaft hits theaters this Friday.