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Arts & Entertainment

Student Session: Making Bold Choices

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 14:48 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 learned how to write for actors. How to leave room for the actors to 'play', or rather, to act. I learned how to be Present when writing characters. How to ask myself, 'who is this person'. I learned I want my words to be projected and characters be imbued by Samuel.L.Motheruckin'.Jackson.

WOW Samuel's honesty is so refreshing and I love how he took his time with the students and let them act his scenes! That was great! I learned so much in this master class!

Learnt so much from these classes. Gives you an all round break down on acting, theatre, including how to prepare and present yourself for auditions.

As a director it has provided me with more insight about the acting process


Kathryn C.

Samual Jackson's character and professionalism notches him way up in my book. The scene studies made me want to jump up and join in the process. I think the actors could have benefited from a deep dive of the subtext in each script. Mr. Jackson had to keep explaining how the dialogue drove the goal of the scene and the underlying intent of what was being said. The most important takeaway for me was that nailing down the subtext is as important as memorizing the lines and channeling a character in a believable and intriguing way.

Shealinn M.

The alluring character vs. the nervous one - excellent choices! At that point, the actors really melted into their roles. I felt like I was watching them in the movie. Best one yet. I am realizing realism and delivery are so important to film acting. Otherwise, you lose the audience. Confidence is key. The other actors/takes weren't as convincing.

Nikoline B.

The student sessions are useful because you get to see it in action, and you get real feedback from a real life situation. Well worth watching!

Antonia T.

Both men are great actors! I loved the tics, the shyness and the nail biting. Very interesting lessons. Thanks!

R.G. R.

Making strong choices is the essence of building a character in theater, film, or even auditions

Xavier M.

also to be in the moment, to do that you learn and practice so much that you can improvise( like in the piano world and jazz)

Xavier M.

If I would have to act in a movie here is how I would handle that. If the character I have to impersonate exist I would like to meet them just to see the exterior and copy that but also talking to them to feel the interior of them suffer and laugh the same way they do change my personality just like I am a part of that tribe of people who are like that. If you want to play a crazy person like the Joker I think you want to see and be around really crazy people. Sound basic(it's not because something is simple that it is not important) but I think that's it. Also, you want to play in front of a mirror countless hour to calibrate voice movement facial face also look(okay look like played over the top, and now it looks real, now it looks like the characters and his actual mental state, and now it looks like I am tired and it's me) at greats actors and think about what makes the performance (the word is important like Samuel Jackson said "we are in the make-belief business" that phrase stay with me and is in my brain since the day I heard it, it's simple but powerful because now all you have to do is focus on make-belief from your performance from the scenario from the way to show what you want to show every must look like it's the real thing) they are doing so great. It's a lot of work but it can be good. With that said, some characters are easier to play than others.

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.