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Arts & Entertainment

Student Session: Developing Characterization

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 21:05 min

On the surface, this Kingsman scene is a simple conversation between two characters. The actors’ task is to dig deeper, access the subtext of the exchange, and create characters who will make the otherwise “bland” dialogue more interesting.

Samuel L. Jackson
Teaches Acting
One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.
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OK, so you saw the movie. You know what the set-up is. It's "Kingsman." I made an interesting choice as Valentine, mostly to keep myself entertained, you know, because you do a movie like this, it's kind of easy to just go through the motions. You come in. You're supposed to be a bad guy. You do bad things or whatever, and you say funny things. But it's a parody of a Bond movie. All Bond villains have a quirk of some sort. So hopefully, while you were learning, reading, thinking of this, you created a quirk of your own. So I don't expect you to have a lisp. I hope you don't. I want you to have your own unique take on who Richmond Valentine is, and what he does, and who Harry is. Harry's a gentleman spy. We know that. So I don't expect you to have a British accent. If you want one, do it. If you want him-- he can be whatever you want him to be. You have the freedom to create and bring to life whatever thing you think will make this thing more interesting than two guys sitting down, having a conversation at dinner. And there are things going on here. There's a play on words that mean other things, that mean, you know, I know who you are, you know I am, you know, we are now engaged, so let the games begin. - And acción. - So I hear you want to donate to my foundation. - Well-- - You are aware that I wound things down in that area. Right? - I am. Climate change is a threat to us all. And you are one of the most power-- - No, no. - You are. You're one of the most powerful women who, I believe, shares in my concerns. Am I wrong? - No, I shut things down because it wasn't going anywhere. Every bit of research kept pointing to the same conclusion. - Right, right. Is it that carbon emissions are a red herring perhaps? And that no matter what we do, the remedial actions will not change anything. - - - Ha! You know your shit. - I know my shit. I do. You know, I actually-- I do envy the blissfully ignorant who are less well-versed in their shit. - Hmm. - As Professor Arnold once said, humankind is the only virus cursed with the knowledge of their host's fragile mortality. You like that? - - You're welcome. - You know, not too many people know about him. You like spy movies, huh, Miss DeVere? - Well, spy movies today, a little serious for my taste. But oh, the old ones, marvelous, yes. - Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, the old Bond movies! - Yes! - Oh, oh, man. When I was a kid, I-- that was my dream job, gentlemen spy. - You know? I've always felt the Bond movies were only as good as their villain. Right? [BOTH LAUGH] When I was a kid, I fancied a future as a colorful megalomaniac. - What a shame we both had to grow up. - Damn shame. - Well, bon appetit. - Bon appetit. - - OK, so [CLEARS THROAT] got that. This time, I want you to pretend to be a bleeding heart envir...

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.

I have learned to keep loving what I do and to be more than prepared always. Samuel worked his ass off and has taken the time to show us how he does it. So blessed, Thank you

Love this course Samuel L. Jackson. He gave some great insights to acting that I can take with me and apply on jouney as an actor.

Very Interresting, Love The part with the student

This MASTERCLASS is a revelation! Samuel L. Jackson is one of the greatest actors of any generation whom I admire and respect trmendously! BEST PURCHASE EVER!


William C.

for me, there's just something off about their acting. she's tyring too hard - it's over the top to be the evil person. just my thoughts opinions

Antonia T.

The 2 guys were amazing after Sam's directions. Wow. They looked like different actors!

Liang B.

Samuel L. Jackson has such wise and eloquent advice that even the camera men seem intrigued by what he has to say. What a legend.

Ting K.

To be fair I think it's not easy to pull off naturally and at the same time be quirky in this scene. You easily run into being too under or over performing.


Good advice. For me, creating the character role and memorizing the lines/script firstly is the key to developing the character. Playing around like adding the quirk will be found. I liked this class very much.

Anthony Lee M.

this is a great lesson! really enjoyed the effort and dynamic responses the actors gave to sam's direction. as he said in a previous lesson, "rather show up with too much, it's easier to drop something than to have to find something and then pick it up" (rough quote..)

Debbie D.

Saw this movie last night. Great fun movie. Was a little uncomfortable with the Black Guy ( Samuel Jackson) having to play the bad guy but that is the irony of it all from that sort of perspective. If u look at the perspective from an American perspective I thought: Well what are you guys so afraid of with all this racism & things going on. What do you think, this guy is going to destroy the world or something? There was like this power struggle: Part of the people thinking: "Oh my god, a Black man as President...they're taking over" as if he was going to destroy the world or something and he didn't. Or, the "Jews" are taking over.... or "We can't let the Chicanos take over". I mean, this is the thinking that goes on inside America at times. But you can't make too many movies with a Black guy doing all the bad stuff though and you gotta also have heroes, reality stuff going on. What a fun story though and a woman who isn't a damsel in distress too.

Mia S.

"I made an interesting choice, mostly to keep myself entertained. You do a movie like this, it's kind of easy to just go through the motions - come in, you're supposed to be the bad guy. You have the freedom to create and bring to life whatever thing you think will make this thing more interesting than two guys sitting down, having a conversation and dinner. And there are things going on here - play on words that mean other things."


Man I sometimes find it terribly cringe-worthy watching the student actors... Especially the short bald guy seems like a complete amateur to be honest.

Saul C.

its amazing how you can find the color of everything on the script . love the way they keep trying to find a form or way to get to the color of the lines beauty !