Film & TV

Student Session: Making Bold Choices

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 14:45 min

When it comes to characterization, it’s better to show up with too much rather than not enough. Sam pushes the student actors to take risks and commit to their choices.

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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- You've been resting. Come on. All right? All right. All right. And Axion. - Yo. Yo. Yo. Yo. Yo. Yo. Yo. Yo. So, you, you want to donate to my foundation. Well, you are aware that I, uh, wound things down in that area or whatever, you know? - Well, climate change is, uh, a threat that affects us all, Miss Devere. - No. - And you are one of the most powerful that seems to share my concern. - Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, man. Nah, nah, nah. I shut things down 'cause that shit wasn't going anywhere you know? Every bit of research, it was just in the same direction and whatever. - Mm-hm, that climate-- uh, that carbon emission's a red herring. We're way past the point of no return. And no matter the remedial actions we take-- - Man, you know your shit! You know your shit. Yeah. - Yes. Yes. Uh. I, uh-- I sometimes, uh, envy the blissful ignorance of-- knowing line? MAN: Those less well-versed. - Those less well-versed in their shit. - Ah, yo. - As, uh, Professor Arnold always said, uh, that humankind is a virus that is cursed with the, uh, horrifying knowledge of its host's fragile mortality. - Oh, Professor Arnold, man. Oh, man. You know, not a lot of people knew about that guy. Yo, yo, you like spy movies, Mr. Devere? - Ah, nowadays they're way too serious for my taste. But the old ones? - Oh! - Marvelous, yes. Uh, give me a, uh, theatrical plot any day. - Oh, man, those old Bond movies, now that's the shit. - Mm. Mm. - That's what's up. You know, when I was coming up, I, uh-- it's kind of embarrassing. I often-- That was my dream job, yo, gentleman spy. Hell yeah. - The old Bond movies, I always thought they're only as good as the villain. As a child, I fancied a future as a colorful megalomaniac. - Well, it's a fucking shame we both had to grow up then, isn't it? Bon appetit, motherfucker. - Very good. Thank you. Awesome. A great-- a great, great, great, great, great contrast there. You committed to something that was perfect, you know, great cover. Who this guy is, you know? You walked into the 'hood finally. Stepped yourself in there, you know? Good. You know, great choices, great, you know, way to make this happen. Wow, how'd you feel about it? - I almost lost it in the middle there because-- - Well, you asked for a line, but, you know. That's why you have, you know, cut. Takes. - Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. - Yeah, but you were in that. I could see you carrying that guy through a whole film, you know. So that when the transition comes in and he does things like that, then it's like, whoa. So good. How'd you feel about Hoody? - It was fun. - You enjoyed it because you didn't think as much this time. WOMAN: Yeah. - You just let it be. - I let it go. - Let it go, be in that. Feel-- feel confident in, you know, the words and the character. That's who he is, ...

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 just love his energy and intensity!!! looking forward to gaining more knowledge!!!

I have learned really important lessons from Samuel that make me realize that all of this is a process all of us have to go thru, and all actors have experienced. There is no reason to rush, it is important to trust the process and do the best we can in every opportunity we have.

Enjoyed this class. Sam Jackson is one of my favorite actors, so was very interesting to hear some of his techniques. I am primarily a film composer and secondly a director, so I wanted to watch this course to give me more insight into the acting area of the process. Very enlightning. The only thing I would add is more take away assignments for actors. Great job.

Samuel L. Jackson is an amazing actor, and I find his classes help my daughter learn more about acting.


Chris M.

I've seen movies where characters seem dull, without any proper reason. Then I've seen movies with characters with no real personality than the reason for that is revealed, because the character is heartbroken or mourning or just can't find their place. I find that to carry a movie all the way through to the end, the audience needs to understand the characters values. What are his/her reasons behind there actions, why do they act the way they act? If the viewer can't answer that question the movie crumbles, because a movie's firm starts with the characters. A good movie starts with a director's open mind, their ability to work with an actor and find the individual actors personality into the character to create a 'real' movie. After all, a movie is fake, the characters need to be lifelike, they need to seem like someone you would meet on the street. A self-absorbed bachelor, a teenager finding their way. A movie needs to deceive. And it all starts with the characters. Even as a 16-year old I'm not easily decieved.

A fellow student

A very good, effective way to get a lot out of the actor as much as you can. Performers can do great when there is the knowledge that you have so much to offer. Basically try to get actors out of theyre comfort zone. See how far they can go

Warren "Wawa" Snipe

This was a very good session. Much to see and analyze. Samuel brought out the best on the actors and it really taught me a great deal. My only question is... how can you play this with a deaf actor? I'm deaf, even though I can speak very well, I'd like to see how that works.

Jenna L.

The students are helping me too. To see the same scene played by different people who all make it their own is very helpful and inspirational so thank you to the students and the great tips from Mr Jackson. I love this class 3000.

javone H.

this was a very good session I thought the actors did a great job, its really important to just be in the moment and Samuel L Jackson is right its better to bring too much than too little with you on set

Akash S.

this was an extremely interesting session. The actors did a great job, it's really important to just be in the zone. Take all that you can to the table with complete conviction and trust your instinct.

The Fool

Enjoyed their performance, watched at 50% speed, it's like they were really hard drinkin'. I don't drink so it's like getting that drunk buddy entertainment without actually having to intoxicate. Meanwhile, there's this underlying spy stuff, dun dun dun da naaaa na na naaaaaa.

The Fool

"It's easier to let go of shit than it is to have shit pulled out of you", that's why I eat Samuel L. Jackson Brand Oatmeal, it has the fiber I need to bring my whole best bag of shit to my performance.


Bringing more "to the table" is exactly correct. Reacting to the physical nail biting, etc. the opposite character, the more muted hidden/adversarial guy had the possibility of sliding his hands along the sides of the table, facial widening of his eyes, then remembering himself and nonchalantly withdrawing one hand (and the other) into a more somewhat cosmetically non reactive posture--(head temporarily on one chin... intently listening and pretending to slow down a bit in somewhat artificial contemplation). This gives the audience a chance to remember the overall temporarily sheathed knives or swords and "catch up" with a more superior, God-like feeling, drawing the watchers into assuming, or trying to assume that they have a feeling for future events...which will translate better into the flow upon the final editing process, and allow for choice enhancement in actual placement of the scene in the movie. If the undercurrent is ("I'm 'gonna eventually kill this guy!") the further pats on the head and utterances might evolve within the scene until we envision a cloud forming (a portent of an upcoming lightning strike)...that gets deferred to a later scene in the final edit. This could also be allowed to "get out of hand" when shot several ways--causing a bifurcation in a branch of the plot and script.

Debbie D.

So funny when he was biting his fingernails and Samuel comes out afterwards & shows him how to bite his thumb doing the gun hand symbol. Laughter.