Arts & Entertainment

Case Study: Caveman's Valentine

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 10:23 min

Sam breaks down the nuances of his characterization process and performance as Romulus, a prodigal but schizophrenic and homeless concert pianist, in The Caveman’s Valentine.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Case Study: Romulus, The Caveman's Valentine • Case Study: Champ, Resurrecting the Champ


Take a brilliant concert pianist, like Romulus in Caveman's Valentine who was a child prodigy. Whose home life's damaged. He's got a damaged home life, and they're in denial about his mental condition or his schizophrenia to the point, you know, that when he does kind of succeed, he succeeds to the point that he can't handle the success. There has to be a reason for it. And the reason that he comes up with is a made-up guy who lives in this tower in New York that shoots rays into his head to the point that he can't touch a piano because it's painful. Fight it, baby. Show Stuyvesant you're not scared of him. Play the damn thing. But he will do it sometimes just because he still has that need to play music. [PIANO MUSIC] When he forces himself to play, he plays in pain and he fights through that pain to the point that it becomes so excruciating that at some points, it is ecstatic. It infuses him in a way that will exhaust him and make him even crazier to the point where he wonders if it is self-imposed or if it is real. He has a daughter that loves him. That not necessarily wants to help him, but wants to let him live his life, but to live his life not in danger. Because he looks the way he looks, he's a huge imposing figure with big coat and a fur hat and long dreadlocks. He's not Invisible to the people around him. His situation is invisible to the people that he passes, like most homeless people in New York. So New York becomes an imposing character in itself-- the city and how he deals with the city. He lives in the middle of New York City, but he lives in a cave in Central Park. So he's isolated anyway. I mean, if you're sleeping in a cardboard box, you're not isolated because people are walking by you every day, but they still don't see you. They don't interact with you. And quite frankly, you-- you're an imposition, or you're a sauce of shame for them, because you are there, whether they admit it or not. You are a source of shame for people who pass by you every day and don't do anything to help you, whether they admit it or not. They know that, you know? They see you but you think they don't. But he's there in the middle of that city and he's ranting, you know, a lot. So people have to dodge and if they see him, they get out of his way, but they don't interact with him. in any way. So he is in that box of his own. But he's accepted that box, to the point that those people don't mean anything. He rushes through the city like he's on a mission all the time. I mean, there's something chasing him or he's dodging the rays from that building because he knows the guy's looking for him, he's just looking for a chance to shoot a ray into his head so his eyes are constantly darting. Even though he's huge, he has a hunched thing because he's always on guard to duck a ray or whatever he's trying to get away from. He thinks...

About the Instructor

As a kid, Samuel L. Jackson stuttered so badly that he stopped talking for almost a year. Today he’s one of the world’s most successful actors, with roles in over 100 films, including Pulp Fiction and The Avengers. In his online acting class, the Oscar-nominated star shares how he creates memorable characters, powerful performances, and a long-lasting career. Learn to master auditions, analyze scripts, and find the truth in every role you play.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Samuel L. Jackson

One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.

Explore the Class
Sign Up