8 Surprising Facts About Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes.
Wesley Snipes.
Samir Hussein, Getty Images

From dramatic actor to romantic leading man to vampire hunter, Wesley Snipes has made a career out of showcasing his versatility. After making his film debut in the 1986 Goldie Hawn comedy Wildcats, Snipes went on to earn accolades in critically-acclaimed dramas like 1991’s New Jack City as well as blockbuster movies like 1992’s Demolition Man opposite Sylvester Stallone. For more on Snipes, including his desire to become Marvel’s Black Panther years before it made it to the screen, keep reading.

1. Wesley Snipes originally wanted to be a dancer.

Born in Orlando, Florida, on July 11, 1962, Wesley Snipes came from a divorced family. His mother, a teacher’s aide, and his father, an aircraft engineer, separated when he was just 1 year old. After relocating to the Bronx with his mother and sister, Snipes gravitated toward physical activities like basketball, dancing, and martial arts. Though he was successful in talent shows and even scored a small role in an off-Broadway play, The Me Nobody Knows, when he was just 12 years old, Snipes believed his future was as a professional dancer. He enrolled in acting at the High School of Performing Arts intending to pursue both but quickly found that acting was more rewarding. When his family moved back to Orlando—he missed out on an opportunity to be cast in the 1980 dance film Fame, which used many students from the High School of Performing Arts—Snipes excelled in the drama department of Jones High School and also participated in a street theater ensemble, Struttin’ Street Stuff, that used puppets and could bring in up to $70 a week.

After graduating from the University of New York at Purchase and their competitive theater arts program, Snipes was cast in the 1986 Goldie Hawn film Wildcats as well as several stage productions, including the Broadway play Execution of Justice. In a foreshadowing of his role in 1996’s Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, Snipes played a drag queen named Sister Boom-Boom.

2. Wesley Snipes was considered for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Snipes was still a few years away from achieving stardom in films like 1989’s Major League and 1991’s Jungle Fever when he was reportedly placed on a shortlist of candidates for the role of Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. After the casting sheet surfaced in 2010, LeVar Burton—who ultimately was hired to play La Forge—confirmed on Twitter that the information was accurate.

3. Wesley Snipes may have cost Keanu Reeves the co-starring role in White Men Can’t Jump.

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson at the 1998 premiere of 'The Hi-Lo Country.'
Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson at the 1998 premiere of The Hi-Lo Country.
Dan Callister/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Snipes had already worked with actor Woody Harrelson (Cheers) on Wildcats when the two were being considered for the lead roles in director Ron Shelton’s 1992 basketball hustler comedy White Men Can’t Jump. Snipes was cast in the role of Sidney Deane first—in part because Harrelson endorsed him to Shelton—while Harrelson was among one of many actors up for the role of Billy Hoyle. When Snipes was asked to audition with Keanu Reeves, Snipes said he purposely made it awkward for Reeves to make sure the audition went poorly so Harrelson’s chances would improve. “[Reeves] would improvise and say something where there would be a natural response from me, and I just left him out there like dirty laundry,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 1992. Harrelson eventually got the part.

4. Wesley Snipes almost played Black Panther.

Following its release in 2018, Black Panther became one of the biggest films to come out of Marvel Studios. Chadwick Boseman played T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, a role he has reprised in other Marvel films. But the character almost appeared onscreen decades earlier, with Snipes in the role. In 2018, Snipes told The Hollywood Reporter that Marvel had approached him about the movie in the early 1990s. Script and production issues halted the project, however, and Snipes went on to star as another Marvel hero, the vampire hunter Blade.

5. Wesley Snipes almost fought Joe Rogan in a UFC bout.

In 2005, comedian and Ultimate Fighting Championship color commentator Joe Rogan was approached about fighting Snipes in a real mixed martial arts match. According to Rogan, Snipes was looking to alleviate a tax debt by securing a bout against fellow action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, but promoters wanted Snipes to face someone else. Rogan, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, agreed but said Snipes ultimately changed his mind. The fight never took place.

6. Wesley Snipes refused to open his eyes for a scene in Blade: Trinity.

Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, and Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity (2004)
Jessica Biel, Wesley Snipes, and Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity (2004).
New Line Cinema

Snipes found the biggest financial success of his career with the Blade film series. Based on the Marvel Comics character, a human-vampire hybrid, the original 1998 movie spawned two sequels, 2002’s Blade II and 2004’s Blade: Trinity. The third film was reportedly difficult to make due to disagreements between Snipes and director David S. Goyer. According to Goyer’s DVD commentary for the film, Snipes even refused to open his eyes during one take, forcing the production to use digital visual effects to finish the scene and make it appear as though Snipes was awake.

7. Wesley Snipes wrote a novel.

In 2017, Snipes released Talon of God, a novel described as a “spiritual thriller” about a warrior named Talon who teams with a doctor to stop a demon from taking over Earth. Co-written with Ray Norman, the book received positive critical reviews. USA Today called it “a pretty entertaining supernatural adventure.”

8. Wesley Snipes lost out on Coming to America, but he’s in Coming 2 America.

Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy attend Critics' Choice Association's Celebration of Black Cinema at Landmark Annex on December 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy at the Critics' Choice Association's Celebration of Black Cinema.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Niche Imports

While doing press for 2019’s Dolemite Is My Name, Snipes revealed that he had auditioned for the role of Darryl Jenks, the heir to the Soul Glo fortune in the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America. Snipes lost the part to Eriq La Salle, which he said hit him hard.

“I really wanted to be in the movie,” Snipes said. “I really wanted to work with [Eddie Murphy] and I was really contemplating what my purpose in life was after losing that to Eriq La Salle.” Things have come full circle for Snipes, as he ultimately worked with Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name and was also cast in Coming 2 America, which is expected to be released in December 2020.

7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

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The Maestro: 10 Facts About Ennio Morricone

Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Famed composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, leaving behind a body of work that eclipses the idea of “productivity” itself. It’s not just that Morricone composed thousands of hours of music for hundreds of movies. It’s that he managed to create so many original, indelible moments over and over again, in such a broad variety of genres for so long, without acquiescing to repetition or compromising his creativity. The last, best comfort to take in his absence is the thrilling—and rather intimidating—volume of music he left for us to revisit and, more likely, discover while celebrating his legacy in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

In spite of his seemingly constant presence in the film industry for more than 70 years, there are many details about Morricone's life and career that even longtime fans may not know. In honoring the man and the artist, we’ve collected a handful of facts and figures about the Oscar-winning composer and his vast, incredible, and unforgettable body of work.

1. Ennio Morricone made music for 85 of his 91 years.

Ennio Morricone was encouraged to develop his natural musical abilities at a young age—he created his first compositions at age 6. He was taught music by his father and learned several instruments, but gravitated toward the trumpet. When he was just 12 years old, Morricone enrolled in a four-year program at the prestigious National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome, where he was born, and completed his studies within six months.

2. Ennio Morricone's career primarily focused on film, television, and radio compositions, but he also worked in popular music.

Morricone’s professional career began in 1950 as an arranger for jazz and pop artists. He helped compose hits for a diverse slate of stars including Nora Orlandi, Mina, Françoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu, and Paul Anka, whose song “Ogni Volta” (“Every Time”) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.

Morricone later worked with Pet Shop Boys, k.d. lang, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting. From 1964 to 1980, he was also part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Consonanza (or “The Group”), an ensemble focused on avant-garde improvisations. Although it was reissued a few years ago, original copies of their 1970 album The Feed-back once fetched as much as $1000 on the collector’s market.

3. Ennio Morricone hit the ground running as a composer—and never slowed down.

Many of Morricone’s first efforts in the movies were as an orchestrator for more established composers, but he quickly joined their ranks. Between 1955 and 1964, when he created his breakthrough score for A Fistful of Dollars, he either orchestrated or composed (or both in some cases) some 28 film scores. During this time, he was already working with Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura), Vittorio De Sica (The Last Judgment), Lucio Fulci (twice!), Lina Wertmüller (I basilischi), and Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the Revolution).

4. Ennio Morricone helped turn A Fistful of Dollars into a worldwide classic.

When Sergio Leone hired Morricone for his first Western, he’d already embarked on an iconoclastic journey, referencing Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Leone’s initial “concession” was to evoke Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo in its music. Morricone combined ideas from Tiomkin’s music with an arrangement of folk singer Peter Tevis’s cover of the Woody Guthrie song “Pastures of Plenty” to create what became the opening title theme. The music won the Silver Ribbon Award for Best Score from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and forged a longtime partnership between Morricone and Leone.

5. During their heyday, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked in a way that was virtually unprecedented outside of musicals.

The music in Leone’s films is at once one of their most distinctive features, and also one of their most inextricable. Later in his career, Morricone explained that he would often compose portions of the music for Leone’s films before shooting began, and then scenes were staged and shot to match the timing and rhythm of the composer’s music. “That’s why the films are so slow,” Morricone joked in 2007. His use of so many then-unconventional instruments, including electric guitars, the mouth harp, and sound effects like gunshots redefined the musical landscape of the genre, while Leone razed its traditional morality tales to explore darker, more complex stories.

6. A Fistful Of Dollars spawned a lifetime of awards.

Morricone won his only competitive Oscar just four years ago, and had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2007. But after that recognition from the Italian National Syndicate of Journalists, he racked up hundreds of nominations and awards from the Motion Picture Academy (five other nominations), the American Film Institute (four), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (six nominations, three wins), the Grammys (five nominations and four awards including their Grammy Hall of Fame and Trustees Award), and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (a Career Achievement award and a win for his score for Once Upon a Time in America). Somewhat predictably, much of the work he did in “genre” films, even the acclaimed “Spaghetti Westerns,” was marginalized at the time, but went on to be appropriately recognized and reevaluated for its impact and artistry.

7. Ennio Morricone was both a critical and a commercial success.

Morricone's work with Leone raised his profile as a formidable collaborator for filmmakers and gave him worldwide chart success. His score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly sold more than 2 million copies, and the soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West, his fourth collaboration with Leone, sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. It remains one of the top five best-selling instrumental scores in the world today. To date, Morricone has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

8. Ennio Morricone’s partnership with Sergio Leone was exemplary, but he wasn’t the composer’s only frequent collaborator.

From A Fistful of Dollars to Once Upon a Time in America, Leone’s final film, he and Morricone always worked together. While working primarily in Italy, he often teamed up with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento, among others. After being courted by Hollywood, Morricone began developing long-term partnerships with American and international filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Warren Beatty, Samuel Fuller, and Roland Joffe. By the late 1970s, he was working with John Boorman and Terrence Malick, and by the 1980s and ‘90s, he was regularly collaborating with John Carpenter, Barry Levinson, George Miller, and Pedro Almodóvar.

Beginning in 1988, Morricone began working with Giuseppe Tornatore on the Oscar-winning Italian film Cinema Paradiso, and subsequently worked on all of Tornatore's other films, including 2016’s The Correspondence and the director's commercials for Dolce & Gabbana.

9. Quentin Tarantino championed Ennio Morricone’s work even before the two of them ever worked together.

Quentin Tarantino’s films are always an exciting pastiche of past and present influences, and he has used cues from Morricone scores in many of his films, beginning with Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2. Tarantino first hoped to work with the composer on Inglorious Basterds, but when the timing couldn’t be worked out, the filmmaker utilized eight older tracks by Morricone on the soundtrack.

Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” for Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until The Hateful Eight that he composed a full score for Tarantino, who still used archival tracks—namely, some unreleased cues from his score for John Carpenter’s The Thing—to expand the film’s musical backdrop. In 2016, Morricone won his first competitive Oscar for his work on Tarantino's film after being nominated six times over the course of nearly 40 years. Morricone also earned an Honorary Oscar in 2007 "For his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

10. Morricone’s discography remains an embarrassment of riches—at least, whatever’s left of it.

Though the extent of the loss hasn’t been reported, Morricone’s was among the work reportedly destroyed in the 2008 fire on the Universal backlot where the company’s Music Group stored original recording and master tapes from some of the world’s best-selling artists. But Morricone recorded more than 400 film scores throughout his career and more than 100 classical pieces, not counting the thousands of pieces licensed for use. More and more of them have been restored and re-released digitally, on CD and vinyl. Meanwhile, his work continues to elicit as strong reactions from moviegoers as the images they were originally written to accompany.

Yo-Yo Ma released an album of performances of Morricone pieces in 2004 that sold more than 130,000 copies. His work tested and redefined the boundaries of film composition, what instruments could be used, and how music and imagery could work together to tell stories and generate powerful feelings. And each listen of those recordings, whether of transgressive experimentation, pointed drama, or lush sentimentality, honors Morricone's enormous talent and evokes his irreplaceable spirit.