Hollywood Stars React To The Death Of Shaft Star Richard Roundtree

On October 24, Richard Roundtree passed away at the age of 81. Roundtree was an unknown when he took the role of Detective John Shaft in 1971, but he carried the character's headstrong swagger throughout his career. "I know Shaft's a fantasy person, a fictional person," Roundtree told the New York Times in 1972, "but the image kids see of him on the screen is of [a] black man who is for once a winner. And I think that's positive."

Following "Shaft," Roundtree enjoyed a prolific career, appearing in more than 150 titles ranging from "Roots" to "Family Reunion" to "Speed Racer." Unsurprisingly, his death has sparked an outpouring of warm remembrances and tributes from celebrities.

Gabrielle Union took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to recall her time working with Roundtree on the BET series "Being Mary Jane." "Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream," she wrote. "Getting to hang with him & our 'Being Mary Jane' family was always a good ass time with the best stories & laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & [people] would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him."

Other former collaborators chimed in as well. Rian Johnson remembered Roundtree's single day on the set of his 2005 directorial debut, "Brick." "It was a tiny weird movie, we were a set full of kids, and he was so kind & generous & patient, and even hung out with us all that night," he wrote on X. "Incredible guy, incredible career."

Samuel L. Jackson paid tribute to the prototype

As the actor who took up the Shaft reins in 2000, Samuel L. Jackson is especially indebted to Richard Roundtree's legacy. The pair reunited again for the 2019 sequel. Jackson offered effusive praise of his former co-star on Instagram. "Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!!" he wrote under a still of the two in 2019's "Shaft." "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."

Jackson also shouted out Isaac Hayes' famous "Theme From Shaft." "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."

Other celebrities shared their praise, including Sheryl Ralph, Taraji P. Henson, and Deion Sanders. "I just heard, the icon that is Richard Roundtree is gone," wrote Carl Weathers in a post on X. Roundtree was widely considered the first Black action hero, a mantle that Weathers took up in the 1980s. "The original SHAFT!!! His performance influenced so many and so much. And he was a great guy!"