Wesley Snipes is an American actor, martial artists, and film producer best known for the Blade trilogy. In 2006, Snipes found himself on the wrong side of the law for tax evasion. As a penalty, he spent 3 years behind bars (2010 to 2013).
Shortly after his release, he returned to acting appearing first in 2014’s ensemble action film, “The Expendables III”. However, life in Hollywood was never going to be the same again, at least not that easy.
Since then, Mr Wesley has only managed to land one movie per year. However, the black belter hasn’t given up just yet. He recently (2016) added “author” to his repertoire and looks to do more in production.
Here is all you need to know about the Blade star’s initial success, downfall, and recent endeavours.
Wesley Snipes Bio, Wiki
Wesley Trent Snipes was born on July 31, 1962, in Orlando, Florida to a father who was an aircraft engineer and mother who was a teacher’s assistant. Snipes and his sisters were raised by their mom and grandmother in South Bronx, New York. His passion for acting developed at childhood. Snipes began his martial arts training at the age of 12 and earned a 5th dan black belt in Shotokan Karate.
He attended LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts in New York. However, he graduated from Jones High School in Orlando. College education saw him return to New York City where he studied drama at the State University of New York in Purchase. He graduated in 1985 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree.
Luckily, Snipes didn’t have to do much to attract eyes from Hollywood. His career enjoyed a swift start shortly after he was discovered in a competition during his graduation year. That same year, he landed his debut film role in “Wildcats” (1986) for which he reportedly received $30,000. He achieved another career boost when he appeared in the Martin Scorsese-directed music video for Michael Jackson’s Bad. His portrayal of MJ’s nemesis in the video caught the attention of filmmaker Spike Lee, whom he would later work with in future successful projects.
Snipes got his first major box office hit with the 1989 sports comedy film, “Major League”. The film grossed almost $50 million against an $11 million budget. Thanks to Spike Lee, Snipes got his first major role in the interracial romantic movie “Jungle Fever” (1991). It was also a commercial success, grossing over $43 million against a $14 million budget. Yet another hit was “New Jack City” (1991) where the lead role was specifically modelled after him.
The actor further solidified his movie star status throughout the 1990s making it his most successful period in the industry. He awed fans in action roles and proved his versatility with drama and comedic roles. Also, he began receiving high 7 figures per role. He received $7 million for “Drop Zone” (1994) and earned $5.5 million and $7 million respectively from “Money Train” (1995) and “The Fan” (1996).
For his role in “One Night Stand” (1997), Wesley earned his first award for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.
He struck a major jackpot portraying the Marvel Comic character, Blade in the movie of the same name. Blade (1998) grossed over $130 million against $40 million budget. Its success developed a cult following and influenced two sequels. Blade Trilogy brought in over $400 million worldwide. Snipes who had the dual role of lead actor and fight choreographer/producer was able to land a deal entitling him to a slice of the movie’s entire proceeds.
In an attempt to diversify his income, Snipes joined forces with his brother to establish Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, a security firm that provides trained bodyguards to VIPs. However, JustRichest.com cannot confirm how much Snipes makes from this venture. He also owns a production company, Amen-Ra.
Tax Evasion And Blade Trinity Drama
While Snipes was receiving big fat paychecks for his numerous roles, (he earned over $37 million from 1996 to 2004) he willingly refused to give Uncle Sam his share. After years of waiting patiently, Uncle Sam decided to come after him in 2006. The IRS uncovered that Mr Snipes had not filed tax returns from 1999 to 2004. Worse, he used forged documents to request a false tax refund of about $12 million for the years 1996 and 1997. Mr Snipes used the “861 arguments” for his defence while blaming a group of accountants for misleading him.
After a lengthy battle, the court in 2008 dropped felony charges for his attempt to defraud the government. However, he was found guilty of three misdemeanour counts of failure to file tax returns. Thus, he was sentenced to 3 years behind bars and ordered to pay $14 million in back taxes. His appeal was thrown out. Meanwhile, his co-defendants were found guilty of the aforementioned felony charges. As a result, one of them was sentenced to 10 years and the other, 4 years.
After serving 90% of his sentence, Snipes was released on April 2, 2013. His remaining time was completed on house arrest.
Prior to the tax evasion scandal, the actor had become his own undoing. His frequent brash behaviour on the set of “Blade: Trinity” (the third instalment of the Blade franchise) caused director David S. Goyer to exclude him from some decisions. As a result, Snipes got even more pissed and sued Goyer and New Line Cinema for denial of cast decisions and failure to pay his full wage. The terms of their settlement were concealed from the public. However, while Snipes might have been technically right, his actions were enough to tarnish his image in Hollywood and his absence from the game for three years only exacerbated the situation.
Post-Prison And Comeback Attempts
After being released from prison, Snipes looked like he could go ahead to offset his immediate poor record and achieve another rapid rise to stardom when he starred in the box office hit “The Expendables III”. However, the exact opposite was the case as Snipes didn’t get any role for the rest of the year.
In 2015, Spike Lee gave him a role in “Chi-Raq” (2015) which despite the buzz was a huge box office bomb. Snipes turned to the TV for help but his role in the series, “The Player” was only short-lived lasting only 9 episodes to qualify it as an instant failure.
The actor then put his Maandi Media DMM in a deal with WWE Studios to produce at least two films, one of which is entitled “The Temple” (2017). Though WWE Studios isn’t exactly a big player in movie production, they’ve managed to make a couple of box office hits including Halle Berry‘s “The Call” (2013) which grossed $68.6 million against a $13 million budget and “Oculus” (2014) which made $44 million from $5 million. Snipes was left hoping his movies can further add to that list.
Also, in a bid to restore his glory, Mr Wesley dabbled in writing. He published his first ever novel, a supernatural thriller called “Talon of God”, in December 2016 and he hopes to adapt the story into a movie. Additionally, the vampire-human hero took to social media to hint the return of the Blade series but later clarified that the decision is hugely dependent on Marvel. No doubt, a new Blade movie would help kick things back in his favour.
Wesley Snipes Wife, Children
Wesley has been married two times. His first marriage was to April Dubois. They were together for five years (1985 -1990) and, the marriage produced a son, Jelani Asar Snipers.
In 2003, he again tied the knots with his girlfriend, Nakyung Park with whom he shares four children (three sons and a daughter).
The couple is still happily married with no tales of separation or rumours of divorce. Speaking of the many blessings of being a father, Snipes once said he loves being a dad because it keeps him fit and that his children supply him with the acting material he needs and keeps him inspired.
Wesley Snipes House, Facts, Height
During his tax invasion case, the actor lost his New Jersey mansion worth about $8 million as at that time.
Snipes has won a number of awards for his outstanding performances and has also been nominated for several others including the MTV Movie Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and Black Reel Awards.
The actor who is popular for his role in Blade is not the tallest in Hollywood and certainly not one of the shortest either. He is almost 8 inches taller than 5 feet (1.75 M) and weighs 81kg (178 pounds).