Actor and four-time NAACP winner Wesley Snipes has been making a bit of a comeback as of recent. The star appears in the new Netflix limited series True Story where he plays the role of Carlton, the burdensome and seemingly jealous older brother to the show’s lead character, the Kid, played by Kevin Hart. Snipes brings the same level of intensity and awe aspiring energy to the TV screen as he’s done in several timeless films including his seminal role in the Blade trilogy, New Jack City (1991), and Demolition Man (1993), but it felt as though Snipes had disappeared over the last decade.
Well, he did disappear. Snipes spent 28-months locked away in a federal prison facility in northern Pennsylvania after being convicted of tax evasion. The star was intertwined in a lengthy legal battle over unpaid taxes for years following the court’s decision to fine him up to $5 million for the outstanding fees. Snipes told EW in an interview in October that while he was in jail, he received several different scripts requesting him to take on more prison roles.
“I’ve got a stack that stands probably six feet of scripts that have to do with some kind of prison theme,” the 59-year-old told the outlet. “‘He was a lawyer in prison.’ ‘They were a musical group who hit it big, but none of them ever got out of jail.’ They even sent me a clown! The clown was a serial killer — but he used to be a lawyer! When they discover him, of course, he’s locked up. I said, ‘What do they think, that I’m an expert on this?’”
Upon Snipes’ release in 2013, the actor slowly began to make his long-awaited return to the big screen, first appearing in Spike Lee’s musical crime drama Chi-Raq in 2015 and later NBC’s now-defunct series The Player in addition to The Expendables 3.
The Bronx Native’s screen career kicked off making small appearances on TV dramas like All My Children and Miami Vice, but at 23-year-old, Snipes career launched after teaming up with Spike Lee in the romantic drama Jungle Fever and Mario Van Peebles’ street classic New Jack City in 1991. The actor continued to make significant strides throughout his decades-long run in Hollywood including his seminal role as Blade, the dhampir vampire hunter, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe trilogy. Snipes put his 5-time black belt moves to good use from 1998 to 2004. Some argue that the film spearheaded the MCU franchise.
“Blade came to me as a script,” the actor told Den Of Geeks of how his pivotal role as the comic book character came to be. “And against the advice of all of my representation at the time, I thought it was a cool opportunity to do something, a great opportunity to do something very cool,” he continued. “I remember William Marshall, the great thespian and great Shakespearean actor, played Blacula. And I said to myself, wow if William Marshall could play Blacula, then to me, as a young thespian, it was fair game. Plus, it was an opportunity to put martial arts in it. It was a no-brainer for me. Everybody else thought it was stupid. I was crazy for doing a comic book character.”
Fans of the star raved over his versatility in the industry and his resume packs quite the punch, from playing a jazz musician alongside Denzel Washington in Mo’ Better Blues (1990) to transforming into a drag queen Noxeema Jackson in Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), the actor has dared to take on any and everything, something he told EW he never fully realized until later on in his career.
“If you become a champion, but you don’t have a point of reference to other champions, you don’t know you’re a champion,” he explained. “I was always looking for the next opportunity to play with some skillset that I had, learn something I didn’t know, and work with talent that I admired. I never looked at a film as being a movie star. I wish I would have paid more attention to it.”
According to Celebrity Networth, Snipes has an estimated fortune of $10 million from his various film and television projects.
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