Wesley Snipes Biography

Wesley Snipes Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Wesley Trent Snipes" (born July 31, 1962) is an American actor, martial artist and film producer. He may be best known for his role as the vampire hunter in the eponymous "Blade" trilogy films.

Snipes has starred in action-adventures, thrillers, comedies, and dramatic feature films opposite such actors as Robert De Niro and Sean Connery. In recent years, Snipes has moved behind the scenes in order to make his own films. To this end, he formed his own independent production company, Amen Ra Films, and its subsidiary Black Dot Media in 1991, to develop projects for film and television.

Snipes was arrested on December 8, 2006 at Orlando International Airport. An arrest warrant had been issued for him on October 17, 2006, in a case alleging that he filed fraudulent claims for tax refunds. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond.

Snipes will return to the big screen in the U.S. with 2008's Gallowwalker.


Wesley Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida. He attended SUNY Purchase from 1978 to 1982. From then on started an acting career

Acting career

In 1985, while working the audition circuit in New York in between installing public telephones, Snipes auditioned for a role in the Warner Bros. Pictures comedy "Wildcats", starring Goldie Hawn. The distinct impression he made on the casting agent earned him a call back to fill the role in the film.

In 1987, Snipes appeared as Michael Jackson's rival gang leader in the Martin Scorsese-directed music video 'Bad' (he is only seen in the long version of the video) and the feature film "Streets of Gold", which brought him to the attention of director Spike Lee. He turned down a small role in Lee's "Do the Right Thing" for the larger part of Willie Mays Hays in "Major League", beginning a succession of box-office hits for Snipes. Lee would later cast Snipes as the jazz saxophonist Shadow Handerson in "Mo' Better Blues" and as the lead in the interracial romance drama "Jungle Fever". Another important role for Snipes was the drug lord Nino Brown in "New Jack City", which was written specifically for him by Barry Michael Cooper. Another film in which his character was involved in drugs was the somber movie "Sugar Hill".

In 1991, Snipes formed the independent production company Amen Ra Films. It co-produced the first two "Blade" films and other titles that Snipes has starred in.

Snipes has featured in films as diverse as the comedy "White Men Can't Jump", the critically acclaimed "The Waterdance", and the action/adventure "Passenger 57" (which featured his martial arts expertise), "Rising Sun, The Blade Trilogy ", The Art of War, "Demolition Man", "Sugar Hill", "Drop Zone", "Money Train" and "The Fan". In a departure from type, Snipes played a drag queen (alongside Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo) in the 1995 film "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar".

In 1997 he won the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in New Line Cinema's "One Night Stand". Snipes was also lauded by critics worldwide for his performance in "U.S. Marshals", a sequel of sorts to the box-office hit, "The Fugitive".

1998 was especially rewarding for Snipes with the opening of the year's hit "Blade", for New Line Cinema, which has grossed over $150 million worldwide. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, SUNY/Purchase, for his outstanding achievements in film.

Snipes produced "The Big Hit", starring Mark Wahlberg and executive produced by John Woo and Terrence Chang, and the critically acclaimed feature "Down in the Delta," which marked Maya Angelou's directorial debut and garnered several awards including a Christopher Prism and nominations in multiple categories for the Acapulco Black Film Festival, as well as an NAACP Image Award for Best Motion Picture.

Additionally, television projects distinguished Snipes as a creative force with ABC's "Futuresport", in which he starred with Dean Cain and Vanessa L. Williams. Snipes also produced the highest rated cable special of all time, TNT's 'The First Tribute to the Martial Arts Masters of the 20th Century,' which showcased some of the greatest innovators of the martial arts.

Snipes's last film to have a US theatrical release was 2004's "Blade Trinity". Although the film was a box office success, Wesley was forced to devote his time to making several direct-to-video films. He recently completed filming "The Shooter" (also know as 'The Contractor') in Bulgaria and the UK, with Charles Dance, Lena Heady and Eliza Bennett.

Snipes also served as executive producer of a series of documentaries that he personally financed through now defunct Black Dot Media. The company showcased prominent thinkers from the African and Afro-Caribbean culture. The first in the series, "John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk", chronicled the life of John Henrik Clarke, an authority on African and Afro-Caribbean studies. The film won critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York.

Legal problems

Fake South African passport

In 2005, Snipes was detained in South Africa at Johannesburg International Airport for allegedly trying to pass through the airport with a fake South African passport. Snipes later told South African officials that he had applied for the South African papers not only for himself but for his family. During the interview, it was established that Snipes did indeed have fraudulent South African documentation in his possession. Snipes and his attorney agreed to cooperate with the South African Inspectorate of the National Immigration Branch in their investigation. Snipes was allowed to return home because he had a valid U.S. passport, but the South African authorities reduced his immigration status to undesirable as a result of the incident. To date, no explanation has been offered as to why Snipes entered South Africa on forged papers.

Tax fraud charges

On October 12, 2006, Wesley Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn, and Douglas P. Rosile were charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States under , one count of making or aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim for payment against the United States, under and , and six counts of willfully failing to timely file Federal income tax returns under .

Eddie Ray Kahn ran the for-profit businesses American Rights Litigators, Guiding Light of God Ministries and Eddie Kahn and Associates which, according to the U.S. Justice Department, were illegal tax evasion operations. Eddie Ray Kahn was detained in Panama and flown back to Florida.

Douglas P. Rosile, the third defendant, is an accountant who allegedly prepared certain amended returns filed by Snipes. In 2002, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa granted an injunction against Rosile, prohibiting him from preparing or assisting in the preparation of Federal income tax returns for other people. Rosile allegedly prepared or helped prepare frivolous tax returns for 174 clients in 34 states, involving at least US$29 million in taxes. Rosile 'was released by a federal judge in Ocala after he surrendered to authorities Oct. 17 of 2006'.

The conspiracy charge against Snipes includes allegations that he filed a false amended return including a false tax refund claim of over $4 million for the year 1996 and a false amended return including a false tax refund claim of over $7.3 million for the year 1997. The government alleges in the indictment that Snipes attempted to obtain fraudulent tax refunds using a discredited tax protester theory called the '861 argument' (essentially, an argument that the domestic income of U.S. citizens and residents is not taxable). The indictment said Snipes used accountants who already had a history of filing false returns to obtain refund payments for their clients. Under the alleged deal, the firm American Rights Litigators was to receive, from the clients, an amount equal to 20 percent of the tax refunds obtained for those clients.

The government also charges that Snipes failed to file tax returns for the years 1999 through 2004.

On October 17, 2006, an arrest warrant was issued for Wesley Snipes on the tax charges. He was taken into custody on December 8, 2006, after arriving at Orlando International Airport and surrendering to authorities. Later that day he pleaded not guilty and was released on a US$1 million bond.

Due to the volume of evidence being reviewed (including over 800,000 pages of documents by the government) and schedule conflicts for the attorneys, the trial (originally set for March 5, 2007) in the United States District Court in Ocala, Florida was continued (i.e., postponed). The trial is now set to begin in January of 2008.

Snipes said he was a scapegoat and unfairly targeted by prosecutors in connection with the federal tax fraud investigation. If convicted, Snipes could face up to sixteen years in prison and substantial fines.


"Wildcats" (1987)

"Streets of Gold" (1988)

"Critical Condition" (1988)

"Vietnam War Story II" (1988)

"Major League" (1989)

"King of New York" (1990)

"Mo' Better Blues" (1990)

"New Jack City" (1991)

"Jungle Fever" (1991)

"The Waterdance" (1992)

"Passenger 57" (1992)

"White Men Can't Jump" (1992)

"Boiling Point" (1993)

"Rising Sun" (1993)

"Demolition Man" (1993)

"Drop Zone" (1994)

"Sugar Hill" (1994)

"To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" (1995)

"Money Train" (1995)

"Waiting to Exhale" (1995)

"The Fan" (1996)

"Murder at 1600" (1997)

"America's Dream" (1997)

"One Night Stand" (1997)

"Blade" (1998)

"U.S. Marshals" (1998)

"Jackie Chan: My Story" (1998)

"Masters of the Martial Arts presented by Wesley Snipes" (1998)

"Down in the Delta" (1998)

"Futuresport" (1998)

"Play it to the Bone" (1999)

"The Art of War" (2000)

"Disappearing Acts" (2000)

"Liberty Stands Still" (2002)

"Blade II" (2002)

"ZigZag" (2002)

"Undisputed" (2002)

"Blade: Trinity" (2004)

"Unstoppable" (2004)

"The Marksman" (2004)

"7 Seconds" (2005)

"Hard Luck" (2006)

"Chaos" (2006)

"The Detonator" (2006)

"The Contractor (2007)

"Toussaint" (2007) (pre-production)

"Gallowwalker" (2007) (completed)

External links

(WesleySnipes.com) - Wesley Snipes fansite

(Picture of Snipes' fake South African Passport)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Wesley Snipes.

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