Friday, January 8, 2016

Who's Cooler: Samuel L. Jackson or Liam Neeson?

New contributor Cameron Sullivan introduces himself to The Basement with a feature column comparing the great talents of Samuel L. Jackson and Liam Neeson. But who does he think is cooler? Stick with us!

Both SAMUEL L. JACKSON and LIAM NEESON are easily comparable. They've had quite the mixed yet entertaining resumes filled with scene-stealing performances. They've both played hitmen, anti-heroes, Jedi masters, had to face impossible odds while on a plane, have voiced fantasy cartoon/videogame characters and are very quotable. They’ve both have even had the honor of playing a character named Zeus! Here, I go into detail as to what sets them (slightly) apart and why it’s so hard to determine who’s the cooler persona. 

1) They’ve both had the good fortune of working with the best of the best talents in Hollywood. While both Jackson and Neeson have had the honor of working with filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas as well as co-stars including the likes of Harrison Ford, Jeremy Irons, Ewan McGregor, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Robert De Niro, Joel Kinnaman, Michael Madsen, Eva Green, Mark Wahlberg, Uma Thurman, Jamie Foxx (both even co-starred coincidentally where Foxx played the role of Django), Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman, Laurence Fishburne, Sandra Bullock, Tim Roth, Ed Harris, Ricky Gervais, Natalie Portman, Peter Berg, Famke Janssen, Steve Buscemi, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Alba, Frank Grillo, Will Ferrell, Patricia Arquette, Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Giovanni Ribisi, Christian Bale, Tom Wilkinson, José Zúñiga, Adam Baldwin, John Hurt, Brendan Gleeson, Burce Dern, Alexander Skarsgård, Channing Tatum, Megan Good, Terry Chen, Taylor Kitsch, Dominic Cooper, Christina Ricci, Peter Coyote and even Ted Raimi (!). What sets them truly apart in this category though is having worked exclusively with some of the leading directors and writers of today’s world including those who have reestablished genres and the world of independent film productions. 

Sam Jackson has been a mainstay, as well as a highlighted star, in numerous film productions by not just pop culture favorite Quentin Tarantino but also been a supporting presence in Spike Lee’s “dare-to-be-outspoken” material. Jackson occasionally had the honor of working with blockbuster and/or infamous names such as Tony Scott, The Hughes Brothers, Joss Whedon, Doug Liman, William Friedkin, Milos Forman, John McTiernan, M. Night Shymalan, Renny Harlin, Matthew Vaughn, Neil LaBute, Ronny Yu, Kasi Lemmons, Brad Bird, Rob Cohen, John Singleton, F. Gary Gray, Joel Schumacher, Phillip Noyce, Boaz Yakin and The Russo Brothers.

Neeson in recent years has worked intensively with continually rising director and producer Jon Carnahan, helped propel the career of rising Action-Horror Thriller helmer Jaume Collet-Serra and even an occasional project by Christopher Nolan, Neil Jordan, Luc Besson, Paul Haggis, Olivier Megaton or Seth McFarlane. Other noteworthy named he had at least one occasion to work with (for better or worse) included: Kathryn Bigelow, Roger Donaldson, Scott Frank, Atom Egoyan, Michael Caton-Jones, Sam Raimi, Woody Allen, Bill Condon, Ridley Scott and Michael Apted.

2) They are an inspiration for any manly man!
Think about it real fast! We’re not just talking about their ability to play quotable yet dominating men of action, trigger happy and ready to get the final word in. We’re also talking about men who have successfully built up their personal lives (and still continue to do so) to get to the beloved acting craft they’re known for today.

Jackson is not only well-versed at knowing his co-stars lines as well as his own scripted actions but was one of several actors who became noteworthy for their tendency to have some of the most badass on-screen cursing. He was also been a successful charity fundraiser, kickass golfer and a civil rights activist in one form or another.

Neeson went from simple maintenance jobs to amateur boxing and ended up adopting various other fighting styles based on whatever was asked of him for his respective roles. Aside from being a UNICEF supporter and also drawing theatre crowds to his broadway shows (much like Jackson), Neeson has managed to be unpredictable with every task he’s taken on.

3) Recap of Their On-Screen Awesomeness
Now, the explosive conclusion to why one just has to love these incredible icons. They’ve had their share of franchises but here is why we can’t just pick one incredible on-screen appearance. Here is what you, the viewer should remember the next time you see them on-screen and recognize that you’re watching a movie with either performer.

Jackson has been allowed to be part of the Star Wars universe, the on-going distorted world of Tarantino, helped run the dangerous amusement world of Jurassic Park, has been the credible aspect about the trashy xXx spy movie series, was John Shaft’s nephew of the same name, is always ordering The Avengers into battle, ruled the apocalyptic wastelands as an Afro Samurai and who can face any powerful force of nature whether it be [insert rival co-star], drug substances, a class full of mischievous students, an army of soldiers, other police authorities, rival gangsters, sharks or even Snakes on a Plane. When he’s not being pals with John Travolta, LL Cool J or Tommy Lee Jones, he’s more likely than not showing off his insane afro wig, justifying how he earned his police badge or telling you what you think you know but really don’t. Don’t even bother trying to scare this man because words can kill when they escape from Sammy’s always cycling mouth.

Neeson has ruled Narnia, been in the fantasy realm of the Greek gods, loaned significant support to the continually growing Star Wars realm, visited the Batman universe, he accepted becoming the mad scientist-turned-superhero that was Darkman, helped pioneer the modernized A-Team and recreated the historical figure that was Rob Roy. He has Taken the most useful spy fighting methods and used them to his advantage every other action movie you see him in nowadays. He likes to be in romantic relationships with Julianne Moore (you’re probably tired of hearing her name already), being in a respectable period piece drama, fighting during the Middle Ages, narrating documentaries so that Morgan Freeman doesn’t have to and creating an intense character who feels natural (and not just as a silly excuse to overact via William Shatner typical style). 

These are the men who will never be the lesser portion of any awful movie you witness (seek out Krull, Def by Temptation, Battleship and The Spirit immediately if you haven’t!) and have so many movies that the average moviegoer still should seek out if they haven’t as they are packed with surprising offerings of the various kinds (good surprise, bad surprise, so-bad-it’s-good because they were in it!). They are who could eventually become the MVPs of The Expendables movie team if we’re not careful and no one can replace these loveable personas once the day comes that they are no longer with us on this here planet. Remember why it is that we love these guys and why you need to make more time to witness their incredible resumes. 

Who would you rank as the better of the two talents? Comment below if you dare!


  1. Sorry, not even close. Shaft! Jules! Elijah Price! Nick Fury! Jackson wins every time - he's iconic. The man is in every movie that has ever made! Samuel L. Jackson is "the black guy". Samuel L. Jackson muttered the iconic phrase "I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane"! I'll give Neeson points for Ra's al Ghul and for having "a very particular set of skills", but then the admiration goes right back to Jackson. And until 3 weeks ago, Samuel L. Jackson was history's most successful movie star based on ticket sales for his movies. Side note - thanks to Harrison Ford for doing Star Wars again and bumping SLJ back to #2 - asshole.

    So to anyone who thinks Liam Neeson is cooler, I leave you with the words of Samuel L. Jackson - “You shut your face! If we want to hear you talk, I will shove my arm up your ass and work your mouth like a puppet.”


    1. Oh don't make me choose, LOL. But I can give you that Jackson's just more accessible which is why he has more than a dozen soundboards on realmofdarkness. :)

  2. Neeson is the everyman action hero. We had the ripped Stallones and Arnies, we had the cool, charming Willis, but Liam is just a guy... who is put in situations where he has to do something, usually kick ass. Even when he's playing a Greek god he's down to Earth and relatable. Plus he was Rob Roy, that gives him bonus points.