Marvel's Samuel L. Jackson pays tribute to late Shaft actor Richard Roundtree: "The Best To Ever Do It!!"

Jessie T. Usher, Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree
(Image credit: Getty)

Samuel L. Jackson has paid tribute to his former co-star Richard Roundtree, following the Shaft actor's death at age 81. The Marvel veteran took to Instagram on October 25 to describe Roundtree as "the best to ever do it", while looking back fondly on the work they did together.

"Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It," Jackson's caption gushed, alongside an image of himself, Roundtree, and The Boys' Jessie T. Usher. "SHAFT, as we know it is & will always be His Creation!! His passing leaves a deep hole not only in my heart, but I'm sure a lotta y'all's, too.

"Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle of Main Street in Heaven & Issac's Conducting your song, coat blowin' in wind!! Angels whispering, 'That Cat SHAFT Is A Bad Mutha, Shutcho Mouth!!' But I'm Talkin' Bout SHAFT!! THEN WE CAN DIGIT."

Jackson shared the screen with Roundtree in Shaft (2000) and Shaft (2019), which saw the former take on the role of ex-NYPD detective-turned-private investigator John Shaft. Roundtree played Shaft's famed uncle, who shares his name and profession, in their first collaboration and his father in the second, which marked the fifth and final time Roundtree ever played the iconic character in a feature-length film.

Roundtree first portrayed Shaft back in 1971, before going on to appear in all four sequels, including Shaft's Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973). Across his 60-year career, Roundtree appeared in titles such as Roots, Once Upon a Time … When We Were Colored, and Man Friday.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Roundtree died at his home in Los Angeles, with his family by his side. His passing comes after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

"Richard's work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men in film," his manager Patrick McMinn said in a statement. "The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated."

Jackson isn't the only one to have taken to social media to celebrate Roundtree, either...

"Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream," Gabrielle Union, who starred with him in the TV series Being Mary Jane, wrote on Twitter. "Getting to hang with him was always a good ass time with the best stories & laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him."

"I just heard, the icon that is Richard Roundtree is gone. The original SHAFT!!! His performance influenced so many and so much. And he was a great guy," tweeted Star Wars' Carl Weathers.

Elsewhere, Hidden Figures' Taraji P. Henson posted a photo of herself and Roundtree from behind the scenes of the 2019 comedy What Men Want. "Rest in paradise #RichardRoundtree the original #Shaft," she said.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.