Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood Lessons

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 09:28 min

Sam shares three very personal lessons learned over the decades he’s spent in Hollywood.

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

Topics include: You're Never Too Good to Audition • Your Best Moments Can Be Lost in the Editing Room • Every Time You're in Front of Somebody, You're Being Judged


There are, like, several really interesting lessons that I've had that stuck with me. The first one was in 1980 when I went to my first "Ragtime" interview. I was sitting outside, waiting to meet the director. And James Earl Jones came in, the preeminent black actor of our time, at that time, in 1980. And I'd read the book and everything getting ready to come to this audition and be there. So I knew there was a Booker T. Washington role in this. So I figured, oh, James Earl Jones is going to be Booker T. Washington in this movie, blah, blah, blah. And he sat down. I introduced myself. Told him how much I admired him, blah, blah, blah. I said, so you're playing the role of Booker T. Washington in this movie. And he's like, no, I'm here for an interview, just like you. And I was like, oh. Shit. I just assumed because you're James Earl Jones and "Great White Hope," and , that there's scripts on your door that you're reading. He was like, mm-mm. I was like, oh, fuck, this what I got to look forward to? First lesson. In " A Time to Kill," the weight of what had happened in that film, I mean, that has a whole interesting kind of story in that, in that when I did that movie, I went into it with one intention. And I did that. And it was one of my first editing room lessons in Hollywood because in the book, and in my mind, and in my heart when I did that, the movie, for me, was about a father letting his daughter know that no matter what happens to her in the world, he'll protect her, and he'll make the world a safe place. So when he killed those guys, he didn't kill them because they raped her. He killed them because he wanted her to know that those two guys will never be in the world to hurt you again. And if anybody else does it to you, I'll be here to do that for you again. I am protecting you from the world. And all the scenes that I did where I expressed that verbally were taken out of film so that when you look at the film, you see Carl Lee as this conniving Negro who purposely killed these white guys, and now, he's trying to find a way to get out of it by using his daughter's rape as the crutch. And one of the biggest things that happened for me was when I got that job and I got there, the first scene I shot in that movie was me going to Jake's office, Matthew McConaughey's office, and telling him that exact story that he tells the jury in the courtroom at the end of the movie, the exact-- almost exact same speech, how they raped her, what they did to her, they peed on on, they threw her out of truck, da, da, da, the whole speech. When I got through doing that, everybody in the room was crying. The cameraman was crying. The script supervisor was crying. The director, Joel, was just, [FAKE CRYING] oh, my god. This is amazing. You're gonna be great. And then when I saw the movie and it was gone, I was ruined. In my heart, I was just . You know, because at that time, I still had-- I still had that a...

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.

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Samuel L. Jackson

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

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