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Arts & Entertainment

Student Session: Plumb Your Emotional Depths

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 13:28 min

Sam directs the actors to perform a scene from The Negotiator in which two characters—Danny and Farley—are on opposite ends of the power spectrum. Students play the scene and then switch roles.

Samuel L. Jackson
Teaches Acting
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- All right. Actor dates, here we go. Oh, so is this something you know? - No. - Or know of? - Yeah. - "The Negotiator?" - Yep. - All right. So I guess, you know, just by the title, we're talking about somebody who's a wordsmith, used to using words situationally. So who do you think that Danny Roman is? - The Michael Jordon of negotiations. - OK. And the Kevin Spacey character on the other side, who's not in this particular scene, but he's also-- - He's the Larry Bird. MAN: He's the Phil Jackson. - Yeah, Sabian, he's that guy. So who do you think that guy on the other end of this conversation is? - He's not in the NBA. - The guy coming off of the bench. He's coming off the bench. - He's a cop who's part of the hostage negotiation team, who's been around. He's studying. He's learning. He learning the ropes. And you know, he's part of-- part of Danny's team. And Danny is-- Danny's gone rogue, essentially, in their minds. And he's called in to have a conversation with the other, you know, all-star-- negotiation all-star, who's not there. And this kid thinks, you know, maybe I know enough that I can talk to him since Danny and I are friends. And let's see how that works out. So I don't know how much characterization you've done in your heads about who you wanted to be, how you want him to be, whatever. But, um we've got two very divergent personalities here. They're both very different guys. So let's see how you jumped in it. So Brendan, Rob, because these girls always want to go first. Let you watch. Let's watch and see what happens. And action. - Sabian? - Uh, [CLEARS THROAT] it's Farley. - I told you I don't want to talk to anybody but Chris Sabian. - Yeah, he-- he-- he's gonna be on his way real soon. Just-- we just need more time. - We don't have more time, Farley. - What are you doing here, Danny? It's pretty serious. - It is serious. And why aren't you taking me seriously? - Well, we are. We are. Um, we are. We just-- [CLEARS THROAT] I just want to talk to you, OK? - Wait. Wait. Whoa, hold on. You wanna-- you wanna talk me down? - Uh, we need to, uh-- uh, tell me what you want. - You want a shot. All right, I'll give you a shot. We got a little time before Sabian gets here. What do I want, hmm. Let's see. Uh, how about, can I see a priest? - No, you can't see a priest. - Good, Farley. You don't want me seeing a priest because a priest is associated with death. And you don't want me thinking about death. But you said no, Farley. You can't say no. Never say no in a hostage situation. - Danny, can-- can--can you could just relax a little bit? - I am relaxed! A little bit of advice for you, Farley. Never say no to a hostage taker, all right? It's in the manual. Are you gonna say no to me again? - No. - Wrong answer, Farley. Shut up. Never say no, can't, don't, or want. It eliminate...

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 love it. I actually watched it to help with my character writing, which it did, but I learned so much more! Samuel is very entertaining, intelligent, and just plain amazing!

To do your best in every acting situation. Play up the character with wigs, tics, etc. Be memorable.

I learn something from this class and more about Sam. Thanks

An absolutely amazing and engaging MasterClass. Thank you Sam, for sharing your expertise and life experience with us. It's been fantastic!


Stuart G.

These student actors are really talented, to be able to switch roles midstream is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Having been in several theatre productions it's hard enough getting your lines down with the appropriate set of gestures and emotions, etc.

Antonia T.

What a great exercise to switch characters to be able to feel what the other character is supposed to feel. Thanks!

Frank T.

Sam Jackson to me is the greatest actor on the planet. If you don’t believe me check out his work on “ the actors studio“. He has a Fort Knox of acting power, intelligence, and understanding

Gabor G.

Great exercise! This is a great masterclass for directors too. I thought they were stronger when they switched roles. It suited their acting style more and created a more dynamic scene.

A fellow student

Great to see the role reversal between actors. It allows people to see what you can become when your in a desperate situation and you dont know if it can be solved

Jenna L.

It's a great exercise to switch characters right away, especially when they have so many differences. Thank you for yet another great lesson!


Great exercise playing both sides back to back like that. That was a very interesting read!

A fellow student

its really cool seeing the actors; and when they know all the character lines.

Danny B.

Being able to pull more from the scene is something I’m definitely going to pay more attention to as I continue to learn and grow

Rahul S.

I am looking for a partner to perform with. Please reply if you wish to rehearse it with me. We can do it on a video/voice call over facebook or something. Thanks