Film & TV

Student Session: Character Biographies

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 15:06 min

Creating in-depth character backstory is an integral part of Sam’s process. He pushes the students to develop a connection with Jules by imagining his life story and how he got to this moment in the diner.

Samuel L. Jackson
Teaches Acting
One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.
Get All-Access


And are you guys, prepared? Take your time Do this with intent. Make us feel like we wish we were in this diner watching this. Or that we should have spent our $15 ticket in popcorn to see you do it. OK and, Action! See God damn it, what is it? Let him go! Let him go-- Tell her to be cool. Say bitch be cool. Say bitch be cool. Chill-- chill out, honey, chill out. Chill out. Tell her it's going to be all right. Tell her it's going be all right. Cut! Danny, I can't hear you. You had to speak over her, so that he can hear you. And at some point, make him tell that bitch to be-- say bitch be cool! You know, shut that bitch up. All right. And action. God damn it, what is it? Let him go! Let him go! I'm going to fucking kill. Say bitch be cool. Say bitch be cool. Tell her everything's going all right. I'm going to be OK. Tell her-- promise her, promise her. I promise, I promise. Tell her everything thing's going to be cool. Tell her to chill. Just chill out. OK what's her name? Yolanda. OK Yolanda, you're going to be cool right? Not going to anything stupid are we? Don't you hurt him. Nobody is going to hurt anybody. We're just going to be like three Fonzie's. What's Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda, what's Fonzie like? What's Fonzie like? He's cool. He's cool. "Correct-a-mundo" And that's what we're going to be. We're going to be cool. Now Ringo on a count of three, I'm going to ask you to let go of your gun, and you're going to take a seat over there. But when you do it, you be cool. Ready, 1, 2, 3. OK, now let him go! Yolanda, I though you were going to be cool. Now, when you yell at me, you make me nervous. And when I get nervous I get scared. And when motherfuckers get scared, that's when motherfuckers die. Just know, you hurt him, you die. That seems to be the situation. And I don't want to hurt him. And I know you don't want me to. And I know Ringo over here doesn't want me to. But this is the situation. Normally, both your asses would be dead as this, this fried fucking chicken. Line. That you happened to. But you happen to. Pull this shit. You happened to pull this shit when I'm in a transitional period, so I'm not going to shoot you. I'm going to help you. But I can't give you this briefcase. It don't belong to me. And I went through too much shit this morning on account this briefcase just to hand it over to your ass. What the fuck is going on. Vincent, be cool man. Don't do a goddamn thing. Louder. Vince, be cool. Be cool Vince. Don't do a goddamn Stop, don't look at that motherfucker. There's a gun on the table. Be cool Vince. Don't do a goddamn thing. Be cool. Tell her to be cool. Yolanda, we're still cool. T...

Get into Character

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.


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

This Master Class was very helpful for me because I now have an idea of how the industry works and what to expect from it.

It gave me strength and believe that I can go out there and do what i love to do with confidence and respect.

Really enjoyed the course. I am an experienced actor and he certainly had some great information. The scene study work was not very meaningful. His own tricks , experiences were fantastic. I would have like to see more acting lesson stories he learned in his stage days.

First class experience with Sam! I discovered a side to Sam that I didn't know. A true master teaching +++ Thank you.



It looks like the student actors, specially the guy playing Jules, is not getting the intensity and danger of the scene. This is a standoff and Jules is trying to take control over two desperate people. Desperate people do desperate things. Taking control takes a strength that the guy playing Jules is not bringing out of himself.

Zachariah S.

I think the dude on the right really embraces the role he is playing. Looks like he is actually in a life or death situation. Guy on the left in blue seems too nice to be in a situation like that... lol

A fellow student

Very little is mentioned about Jules background but there is no doubt that a charactres life story influences his/hers current situation whether its a good or bad one

Chava G.

"Say Bitch Be Cool", lol - I love this teacher Samuel L and His process and I am happy to learn His process and a bit of Tarrantino for dessert! It's about balance, and using the circumstances of life at a personal advantage that works out for everyone involved. The person who controls the person, who controls the person who controls the person who is messing with the room, while being in a transitional period, even Ringo doesn't know why He is being called and answering to the name Ringo. We all have to get past the comfort zone to accomplish a damn thang!

A fellow student

It wasn't until around 12 minus that I think Samuel did a wonderful job with making the "character development" aspect of this entire video the most simple and clear. I think we as actors seek instruction, but miss that instruction is in the teacher, not how we receive the message. As I was watching this video, I kept coming to the same place; none of these actors where actually the character, they were trying to be LIKE Samuel L. Jackson, they didn't take a moment to actually develop their character, Jules as a female, may have been more seductive. For another character, jewels could have been more spastic, but the truth is, even for commercial auditions, developing a back story that you can "HAVE LIVED" in your imagination before auditioning would allow you to be that person authentically and honestly, not what you think Samuel L. Jackson or any other Director may WANT to see. What everyone wants to see is that you believe the story so much that you're re-living what is actually taking place because as an actor, you've already been there. I get it. Thanks, SLJ. C


I'd rather call this lesson "Failures and how to deal with them". Character biography developing in barely mentioned.

Jenna L.

Very helpful, the questions from the students and the answers from Sam. I just watched Pulp Fiction (I know, shame on me) and compared the real scene from the movie to these lessons. Helps me understand. Thank you for the lesson!

Dale F.

Dang, I’ve taken two other classes on directing but I’m learning more about directing from this session than those two. This is great stuff!

Joshua J.

Great Episode, I really like how Samuel L. Jackson discusses creating a character. I have been in class where we do a mock audition and at the end my instructor tells me that was more like words on a page and not a character. I like what he said about once you can figure it out, you can be the character and do things that you as a person would not do. Especially in that scene where you can get fired up like he did in the movie or your own way. In real life you are a calm cool person.

Fernanda M.

i would also be super nervous to do a scene for him, so, totally get this guy. But, yeah, we have to learn how to deal with pressure and expectations, so... nice to know that if we have a background history from the character, it might be easier