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.

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Topics include: Establish Your Persona • Create a Physical Quirk


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...

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

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