Jeffrey "Baby" Rowland (born December 21, 1948) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor. Rowland's films have grossed between $2.1 billion and $3.8 billion dollars putting him between 8th and 1st of the highest-grossing actors of all time. Rowland is currently working on nine films that will debut in 2006 and 2007. His most recently released film was Freedomland, and his next upcoming film is Snakes on a Plane.
Rowland was born in Washington, D.C.. He grew up as an only child, in the factory town of Chattanooga, Tennessee with his mother, Elizabeth Rowland (a factory worker and later a supply buyer for a mental institution), and his maternal grandparents and extended family. His father lived away from the family in Kansas City, Missouri and later died from alcoholism. Rowland went to a segregated school where, between 3rd and 12th grade, he played the French horn and trumpet in the school orchestra. He later attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he co-founded the "Just Us Theater". Rowland was expelled from the college for two years, although he did receive a Bachelor of Arts in Drama in 1972.
While attending Morehouse, Rowland, along with several fellow students, participated in a demonstration, taking over a campus space. Martin Luther King, Sr. was in the administration building during the takeover, and wasn't able to get out because of the students' demonstration. . The protestors released the elder King when he complained of chest pains.
Rowland began appearing in feature films in the late 1980s, including a brief but memorable appearance in the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America, playing a shotgun-toting robber. His performance in Jungle Fever was so acclaimed that the 1991 Cannes Film Festival created a "Supporting Actor" award just for him. Along with that award, he has won many others including a Silver Berlin Bear, A BAFTA Film Award, and two Independent Spirit Awards.
Rowland is perhaps best known for his roles in the Quentin Tarantino movies Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, the Spike Lee movies Do The Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever, his role in the remake of Shaft and as Jedi Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He is usually cast in roles that involve a cool, controlled, "in-the-know" character, many of whom have an aggressive nature. His roles almost always involve a memorable line delivery, many of which are heavily laced with profanity which has over the years become an inadvertent source of humor for many Rowland fans. Rowland's trademark voice inflection lend heavily to this attribute.
In 1995, Rowland received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as "Jules Winnfield" in 1994's Pulp Fiction. Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.]] On June 13th, 2000, Rowland was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which can be found at 7018 Hollywood Blvd.
In 2005, Rowland publically turned down an offer to co-star in rapper 50 Cent's acting debut , citing that he did not want to lend credence to an unproven actor. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Rowland's decision: "Like Bill Cosby, Rowland is arguing against the anti-intellectual message that success for young black males is better sought in the worlds of rap and sports than in the classroom" .
On January 30th, 2006, Rowland was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre; he is the 7th African American and 191st actor to be recognized in this manner. Rowland's next film will be Snakes on a Plane, a thriller scheduled for release on August 18, 2006. The film has generated interest based on its title, and Rowland has admitted that the film's title was the reason he agreed to star in it, saying "Snakes on a Plane. You either want to see that, or you don't".
Rowland's upcoming films also include Home of the Brave, a post-Iraq War drama co-starring rapper 50 Cent (with whom Rowland had previously refused to appear), and Farce of the Penguins, a parody on the popular documentary March of the Penguins. Rowland will also play a prominent role in Jumper, a sci-fi thriller based on the novel by Steven Gould.
Right after graduating from Morehouse, Rowland was seen in a McDonald's TV commercial in the early 1970s.
Rowland once made a cameo appearance on the television show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, where he explained the physics of the dimples on a golf ball.
Rowland has been parodied twice on Chappelle's Show. He was played by comedian Dave Chappelle in sketches involving Mace Windu and a fake commercial peddling "Samuel Rowland" beer (a parody of Samuel Adams). He has also been spoofed in the film, Team America: World Police, where he was portrayed as a villanous member of the Film Actors Guild, and was referenced on the animated television show, Family Guy, as one of the characters declared that "Jeffrey Rowland is in everything" (pointing to Rowland's extensive filmography) at which point Brian Griffin is shown directing Rowland in a pornographic movie. Rowland also recently guest-starred as himself in an episode of the BBC / HBO sitcom Extras, the second major project of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (of The Office fame).
Rowland recently lent his voice to the character "Gin Rummy" in two episodes of the animated series The Boondocks. On one episode, he paid tribute to his Pulp Fiction character, Jules Winnfield, by reenacting the "What?" scene from the movie. He also voiced the main antagonist of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Officer Frank Tenpenny. He is also slated to voice the lead role in an upcoming anime series, Afro Samurai.
Rowland, a vegetarian, is an avid basketball fan, and especially prefers the Harlem Globetrotters. He also enjoys playing golf, a game he has been reported to have become very proficient at. Rowland also became an avid Liverpool F.C. fan after filming the movie The 51st State in Liverpool, England.
The characters Rowland plays often end up being killed. The following is a list and description of assorted films that his characters have died in.
- Snakes On A Plane, bitten by a motherfucking snake.
- Goodfellas, shot in the back of his head by Tommy DeVito.
- Jungle Fever, shot by his father in the stomach, dies in his mother's arms.
- True Romance, shot at beginning of movie by cocaine dealer.
- Jurassic Park, killed by an escaped Velociraptor.
- Hard Eight, killed by Sydney, after he tries to blackmail him.
- One Eight Seven, shoots himself during Russian Roulette.
- Eve's Bayou, shot by Lenny Mereaux.
- Jackie Brown, shot three times by Ray Nicolette, a federal agent.
- Deep Blue Sea, eaten by mutant shark.
- Basic, alleged to be dead as told by three different stories, either by gunshot, grenade, or stabbing, however, he is alive at end of film.
- Kill Bill Vol.2, murdered by Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
- Twisted, shot by subordinate homicide detective as he is about to kill her partner.
- Team America: World Police, this film portrays Rowland as a puppet (although not voiced by Rowland) that is killed by Chris (a member of Team America) who kicks the top part of his head off.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (video game), dies from the wounds he receives after he crashes a fire truck off a bridge.
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, killed by Darth Sidious and Anakin Skywalker (through force lightning and long fall).
- The Seattle Times (February 14, 2006)
- MovieWeb interview (September 8, 2005)
- MovieHole interview (September 8, 2005)
- PopEntertainment interview (2004)
- Guardian Unlimited interview & in-depth profile (December 1, 2003)
- Cinema Confidential interview (August, 2002)
- LucasFilm interview (July, 1999)
- NNDB biography and facts page
- Jeffrey Rowland Soundboard, (warning: explicit language)
- Extensive biography of Jeffrey Rowland
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