Watch CBSN Live

Shaft. (Right On.)

It has been almost 30 years since Richard Roundtree helped make Shaft a cult film classic. This weekend, an updated version starring Samuel L. Jackson as the original Shaft's nephew will open nationwide in theaters.

During an interview with Jackson and Roundtree, Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel asked the actors if they are resigned to the high probability that everybody is going to compare them to each other.

"I don't think they will," Jackson said. "The only comparison I've heard so far is, 'Well, why is there no sex in your movie?'"

Why no sex?

"I'm not sure," replied Jackson, 51.

"Don't look at me! I don't know," said Roundtree, 57. "I read the script, and I said, 'Wait a minute. Did I miss something?'"

Did Roundtree offer Jackson any advice?

"Sure. I had to school him on everything," Roundtree said drily, adding, "Come on, Bryant. Man, the guy comes with so much stuff with him. What am I going to tell Sam?"

Did it bother Roundtree that someone else would be sharing the role?

"I'd be lying if I didn't say, yeah," Roundtree replied, "because the bottom line is, I've been with this guy (Shaft) for 30 some-odd years, and it is somewhat difficult to let it go. On the other hand, I'm glad to let it go because of the labeling, 24/7. 'Hey! John Shaft!'"

Jackson added, "It's never going away. Forget it. It's not going to happen."

Jackson said his character is "just a cop who is trying to find his way, and all of a sudden I'm trying to work within the system and believe in it. (Roundtree's character is), like, shaking his head, looking at me, (thinking), 'You're very naive.'"

Speaking of working within the system, during the filming of Shaft, stories circulated about all the problems on the set. What happened?

"It was just an artistic issue," Jackson explained. "I think a Shaft movie should be one particular thing. (Director) John (Singleton) thinks it should be another thing. Richard knows it should be another thing. You got people on the other side just trying to make a commercial movie.

"You got to do something that says, 'Well, I have an audience that I have to be loyal to, and I trust them a lot more than you do.' So sometimes it boils down to: 'We either do it my way, or we're going to call my agent.'"

A line in the sand?

"Yeah," Jackson concluded.

If the new Shaft does well enough at the box office, Jackson is committed for two sequels. "I'd like to see the next one where Richard is a lot more proactive," says Jackson. "We had a script where he did a lot more stuff, and all of a sudden, something happened to that. I don't know, but during the process it kind of got away.

"I hope, the next time, you see both of us out there, with him doing what he does and me doing what I do; and him calming me down from time to time and mpumping him up from time to time."

And maybe next time he'll be a sex machine with all the chicks?

Replied Jackson, "That's the first thing we're going to fix."


  • He starred with Tommy Lee Jones in Rules of Engagement earlier this year and he's been working on the upcoming releases The 51st State, Mefisto in Onyx and Caveman's Valentine. (He is producing all three.),
  • He is also doing Unbreakable and is booked to return to the role of Mace in Star Wars: Episode II.
  • The "L" Stands for Leroy.
  • Born Dec. 21, 1948 in Washington, D.C.
  • Raised by his mother and grandparents in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he co-founded Just Us Theater.
  • Moved to New York in 1977 to begin professional acting career.
  • Began to win popular critical following his role in 1991's Jungle Fever.
  • Jackson has remained grounded by continuing to live in the Harlem brownstone where he has lived since his stage days.
1991Cannes Film FestivalBest Supporting Actor (win)Jungle Fever
1991New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor (win)Jungle Fever
1994Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor (nomination)Pulp Fiction
1995font face="verdana, arial, helvetica" size=2>Golden GlobeBest Supporting Actor (nomination)Pulp Fiction
1995Independent SpiritBest Actor (nomination)Pulp Fiction
1997Golden GlobeBest Actor in Musical or Comedy (nomination)Jackie Brown
1998Berlin Film Festival Best Actor (win)Jackie Brown

  • Star Wars: Episode II (2002)
  • Unbreakable (2000)
  • Shaft (2000)
  • The 51st State (2000)
  • Caveman's Valentine (2000)
  • Mefisto in Onyx (2000)
  • Rules of Engagement (2000)
  • Deep Blue Sea (1999)
  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • The Red Violin (1998)
  • The Negotiator (1998)
  • Out of Sight (1998)
  • Sphere (1998)
  • Jackie Brown (1997)
  • Eve's Bayou (1997)
  • One Eight Seven (1997)
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
  • A Time to Kill (1996)
  • The Search for One-eye Jimmy (1996)
  • Trees Lounge (1996)
  • The Great White Hype (1996)
  • Hard Eight (1997)
  • Fluke (1995) (voice)
  • Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
  • Kiss of Death (1995)
  • Losing Isaiah (1995)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
    li>Fresh (1994)
  • Against the Wall (1994) (TV)
  • Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker (1994) (TV)
  • Hail Caesar (1994)
  • The New Age (1994)
  • True Romance (1993)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
  • Simple Justice (1993) (TV)
  • Amos & Andrew (1993)
  • Menace II Society (1993)
  • Patriot Games (1992)
  • White Sands (1992)
  • Fathers & Sons (1992)
  • Juice (1992)
  • Mob Justice (1992) (TV)
  • Johnny Suede (1991)
  • Jumpin' at the Boneyard (1991)
  • Jungle Fever (1991)
  • Strictly Business (1991)
  • Mo' Better Blues (1990)
  • Betsy's Wedding (1990)
  • Def by Temptation (1990)
  • The Exorcist III (1990)
  • GoodFellas (1990)
  • The Return of Superfly (1990)
  • A Shock to the System (1990)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Dead Man Out (1989) (TV)
  • Sea of Love (1989)
  • Coming to America (1988)
  • School Daze (1988)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin (1987)
  • Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
  • Magic Sticks (1987)
  • Ragtime (1981)
  • The Trial of the Moke (1978) (TV)
  • The Displaced Person (1976) (TV)
  • Together for Days (1972)
  • Born July 29, 1942 in New Rochelle, N.Y.
  • Attended Southern Illinois University on a football scholarship, but left after his second year.
  • Worked as a janitor and salesman after leaving school.
  • Married twice, currently to Karen Roundtree. Has four daughters, a son, and grandchild.
  • In 1967, joined the Negro Ensemble Theater Company and in 1970, he made his film debut in What Do You Say To A Naked Lady.
  • In 1971, Roundtree was chosen by poet/writer/photographer Gordon Parkes to star in Shaft, which Parkes was directing. Roundtree received a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for the role. He also appeared in the two sequels: Shaft's Big Score (1972) and Shaft In Africa (1973); and the CBS-TV series Shaft.
  • Has appeared in more than 40 films, mostly low-budget action films. Notable exceptions: Earthquake; City Heat, with Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood; Once Upon A Time...When We Were Colored, with Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Bernie Casey and other stars of '70s blaxploitation films; Seven, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman; and George of the Jungle.
  • In 1977, appeared in the mini-series Roots, as carriage driver who romances Kizzy (Leslie Uggams). Other TV appearances include: the miniseries AD (1985), the CBS series Outlaws (1984-85), the daytime drama Generations (1990) and two Bonanza revival movies. He also hosted UPN's Cop Files reality show.
  • In the May 24, 2000 issue of People magazine, Roundtree disclosed he had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a modified radical mastectomy in the fall of 1993.
  • Shaft (2000)
  • Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1999) (TV)
  • Rescue 77 (1999) (series)
  • Intimate Portrait: Pam Grier (1999) (TV)
  • 413 Hope St. (1997) (series)
  • Any Place But Home (1997) (TV)
  • George of the Jungle (1997)
  • Steel (1997)
  • Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored (1996)
  • Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Ballistic (1995)
  • Seven (1995)
  • Bonanza: Under Attack (1995) (TV)
  • Theodore Rex (1995)
  • Shadows of Desire (1994) (TV)
  • Mind Twister (1994)
  • Amityville: A New Generation (1993)
  • Body of Influence (1993)
  • Bonanza: The Return (1993) (TV)
  • Sins of the Night (1993)
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1992) (TV)
  • Deadly Rivals (1992)
  • Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1991)
  • A Time to Die (1991)
  • Bad Jim (1990)
  • Night Visitor (1990)
  • Generations (1989) (series)
  • The Banker (1989)
  • Crack House (1989)
  • Maniac Cop (1988)
  • Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988)
  • Getting Even (1988)
  • Party Line (1988)
  • Jocks (1987)
  • Opposing Force (1986)
  • The Fifth Missile (1986) (TV)
  • Outlaws (1986) (TV)
  • A.D. (1985) (miniseries)
  • The Baron and the Kid (1984) (TV)
  • City Heat (1984)
  • Killpoint (1984)
  • Masquerade (1983) (TV)
  • The Big Score (1983)
  • One Down, Two to Go (1983)
  • Young Warriors (1983)
  • Q (1982)
  • Inchon (1982)
  • An Eye for an Eye (1981)
  • Gypsy Angels (1980)
  • Escape to Athena (1979)
  • Day of the Assassin (1979)
  • A Game for Vultures (1979)
  • Roots (1977) (miniseries)
  • Portrait of a Hitman (1977)
  • Man Friday (1975)
  • Earthquake (1974)
  • Shaft (1973) (series)
  • Shaft in Africa (173)
  • Charley One-Eye (1972)
  • Embassy (1972)
  • Firehouse (1972) (TV)
  • Shaft's Big Score! (1972)
  • Shaft (1971)
  • What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? (1970)
View CBS News In