We've had the odd discussion around these parts about actors who you think deserve better, or those that you wish got a little more credit for their work on the big screen. Well, if I was going to pick one actor who fell into both of those categories, I would have to go with Jeffrey Wright. So that's why today's contribution to Summer Scenes We Love is dedicated to a performance that deserved a (much) better movie: Wright as the Dominican drug lord, Peoples Hernandez, in John Singleton's Shaft.
Back in June of 2000, audiences were a long way from succumbing to 'remake fatigue', and with a a director willing to tackle the racial elements of the story that are so important to the Shaft legacy and a great modern day Shaft (in the form of Samuel L. Jackson), it seemed destined for success. Not to mention Christian Bale doing his evil best as a racist yuppie from hell, and last, but definitely not least, Wright as 'the bad guy' with dreams of respectability. On paper, Shaft had a chance to be something more than a pale imitation, but the movie left fans of Samuel L. and 'Classic Shaft' disappointed. The one thing most of us could agree upon was that Wright was the best damn thing about this flick.
Even though Wright only has a supporting role in the crime drama, he really does steal the show. Of course, if you are familiar with Wright's career, you know that he's always had a knack for taking small roles and running with them (case in point: his world weary Felix Leiter was a highlight of recent Bond films). Wright's take on the murderous Peoples made the drug lord a little more interesting than your run of the mill action movie baddie, and it's almost impossible to pick one great scene, because, well, he's spectacular in all of them.
After the jump: "I'm going to put so many lawyers in your a** you're going to think they opened a branch office up there"...
Here's just a sample of some of People's 'best' moments, but be warned, this clip is NSFW.
As an added bonus; another example of Wright's ability to do so much with so little.