The Return of “Shaft”


Over four decades ago, Richard Roundtree exploded onto the screen playing the iconic “black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks” in Shaft. After one failed attempt, it appears that he will get a new look for a new generation.

According to The Wrap, New Line Cinema has acquired the rights to the Shaft franchise and is, alongside Davis Entertainment’s John Davis, developing a reboot.

Originally a 1970 novel by Ernest Tidyman, Shaft was famously made into a feature film, directed by Gordon Parks, in 1971. Roundtree played the title role, Detective John Shaft, in the original film, immediately reprising the role for two sequels: Shaft’s Big Score in 1972 and Shaft in Africa in 1973.

Later in ’73, Roundtree reprised Shaft once again for a short lived CBS television series. Although the small screen Shaft ran for only seven episodes, Roundtree returned more than two decades later for a cameo in John Singleton’s Shaft reboot.

Although Samuel L. Jackson played the lead in the 2000 release, the film actually maintained a singular continuity with the rest of the franchise, revealing that Jackson’s Detective John Shaft was actually the nephew of Roundtree.

These days, the celebrated actor is currently co-starring on BET’s Being Mary Jane but for a generation of men, Roundtree embodied fierce masculinity coming into the 1970s.

There is no indication which actor will take up the mantle of this urban hero, but we’re sure that every young actor in Hollywood will want a crack at reprising such a recognizable role.