From Samuel L. Jackson's MasterClass

Student Session: Use Your Voice, Use Your Body

Sam analyzes the students’ choices of power positions when playing Danny and how movement and stillness can each convey power in a different way. He shows how posture works on each side of the phone as each character is pushed to their limits.

Topics include: Student Session: Using Your Voice and Your Body

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Sam analyzes the students’ choices of power positions when playing Danny and how movement and stillness can each convey power in a different way. He shows how posture works on each side of the phone as each character is pushed to their limits.

Topics include: Student Session: Using Your Voice and Your Body

Samuel L. Jackson

Teaches Acting

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All right, action. - Sabian? - Danny, it-- it-- it's Farley. - I told you. I don't want to talk to anybody but Chris Sabian. - Um, yeah, he's coming. He's gonna be here soon. We just-- we just need more time. [SIGH] - But you don't have more time, Farley. - OK, just, um, Danny, what are you-- what are you doing? This is really serious. - This is serious. So why don't you take me seriously? - We are. We are taking you seriously. We just-- [SIGH] I-- I just want to talk to you, OK, Danny? - Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Wait. You-- you think you can talk me down? - I have to. What do you want, Danny? - You want a shot? OK, I'll give you a shot. [CLEARING THROAT] I got a little time before Sabian gets here. Oh, boy, what do I want? Um, how about let's see? Can I see a priest? - No, you can't see a priest, Danny. - Ah, see, that's good, Farley. That's good. You shouldn't let me see a priest. Shouldn't let me see a priest. Priest is associated with death, and you do not want me thinking about death. But you told me no, Farley. You can't say no. Never say no in a hostage situation. - OK, why don't we just-- let's just relax a little bit, OK? - I am relaxed. Line. BOTH: Here's some advice. - Here's some advice. Never say no to a hostage taker, OK? It's in the manual. All right, you gonna tell me no again? - No, I'm not. - Wrong answer. Shut up. Hey, never say no, don't, won't, or can't. OK, that eliminates options. That only option leaves is to shoot someone. Understand? - Yes. - Yes, good. Yes is good. Now you tell me no again, and I'm gonna shoot someone. Let's practice. Can I see a priest? - Danny, we're just trying to talk. I'm trying to talk to you. - You want to talk? I'm talking. Can I see a priest? - I'd have to look into that, Danny. - Good, good, good, good, good, Farley. You're learning. You're learning. Now I would love a submachine gun to blow everyone away. - I'll see what I can do, Danny. - That's good. That's good. Good job, Farley. You ever cheat on your wife? - No. - Ooh, whoa, whoa, whoa, watch yourself. I'll kill someone. You ever cheat on your wife? - I-- - Answer! - I-- I-- I would have to see. I would look at it, and I'll see what I can do. I'd have to think about that. - You ever dress up like a schoolgirl and get your ass spanked? - Danny, we're just trying to-- I'm trying to talk to you right now. - I am talking. Did you, or did you not, dress up like a schoolgirl and get your ass spanked? - I'd have to look into that. - Mm, nothing against dressing up like a schoolgirl, but I did not know that about you, Farley. - This is really, really unproductive. [SIGH] [SCOFF] - Unproductive? Yeah, yeah, it is. So why don't you tell me a joke, Farley? You know a joke? No? You just cost someone their life, Farley. Game over. SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Good, good. Action. - Sab...

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.

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Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It's very interesting to see how his mind works and what are his technics to be this great actor. I loved the insights he gave to the students. Certainly recommend it!

Sam Jackson has helped me realize how to become a better actor! I have learned how to dig deeper into the characters I am playing, how to work hard and practice so I can be the BEST version of myself., He is so smart and has a lot of GOLDEN advice to give. I am glad I took this class :)

My performance of a character in a scene was much-improved when I applied Samuel L Jackson's questions, the ones we can ask to interrogate a character, to draw out more of the story. Additionally, having that understanding helped me actually retain the lines better. Thank you!

This definitely changed my take on acting and learned how to have my SHIT together always. Never expect Hollywood to be what I think it should be. Always sure Im the mutha fuka that has his mutha fukin shit together!!

Comments

Joshua J.

That discussion of position of power at the end was great. The one actress I thought did the best when she sat on the desk and played into that power and control. I learned in my acting class while doing a particularly difficult scene where I leaned back onto the heels of my feet and that motion gave up power. My coach called me on it. When my partner and I presented the scene to the class the final time I made sure I didn't do that. Like this it was an interesting discussion on body and what it can convey

Ting K.

It is really challenging to switch from one character to the other immediately. These actors are talented to be able to pull that through.

Jonathan S.

I have a couple of disagreements with Samuel about this scene. Something he talked about made me think there were other officers in the room. That makes me think that Farley would speak in a hushed voice rather than the friendly, somewhat cheerful voice that Samuel suggests at the end. And even though Danny is in charge, that doesn't mean he's not in crisis. His life has taken a very bad turn, and he's cornered. Why wouldn't he pace? I sure would if I were in that situation. And I'd be frustrated that I have to talk to an underling instead of Sabien. Because Danny mentored Farley, he might be embarrassed or irritated (depending on how the mentorship went) with Farley. I like the idea that Farley would become more crushed during the scene, but I don't think he can start at the top. It's more effective if he does, but it has to be logical.

A fellow student

the greatest drama is between darkness and light within. The key is to let God remove the darkness by shining through you. I am learning a lot about acting and look forward to each class.

Arek Z.

"There is more than one right way to do it. " - well said, it's good to explore different options.

Emma

Be still. You don’t have to fill time and space with movement. It’s a great nugget of knowledge that I keep forgetting, I’m going to remember that and not be surprised the next time I hear it.

Mia S.

"But over here there's a real emotion of, 'I loved him, I looked up to him. I still do, he might understand it.' You could play that. But most people aren't going to accept that, in that way. It's just going to be a devastating movement that he's got to go somewhere and cry in the corner. Your body language has to convey how much that hurt. It's almost like he's physically standing there, pounding you in your body. Every blow fucking hurts, to the point where you're on the phone like this by the time that shit is over, it's like, 'oh, shit.' The emotional impact of a scene like this is great. One person's got to be still and strong, and you make him squirm - the squirmer is on the other end, because you're the fisherman with the worm on the hook. The worm is squirming, you're sitting there, calmly waiting on that fish to take the hook. That's how I would do it - it's not necessarily the right way. There's more than one right way to do something. Positions of strength and power, all you've gotta do is be still and powerful. Stillness is powerful. Everybody is always trying to do shit and move - you don't have to do that. All you've got to do is be still, powerful - let your voice do the work. Your body language says, 'I'm in control. Nothing can move me from this. I'm locked in on my shit.' It's a good contrast between those two things. The pain of what he was doing to you never really resonated in a real kind of way, in terms of your hero destroying you in that particular moment. The nervousness of trying to give him the right answer when he never wanted to give an answer at all. 'I'm not trying to talk you down,' is basically what he should have been saying the whole time. Power positions and not so powerful, we all learn to do that when we're on stage and you assume in on screen in certain aspects, when people are above you or below you, you slouch in a certain way, actively listen to someone that's talking, body language is toward them, your ear is kind of turned so people know you're listening. It's those little bullshit tricks that make people know. Use your voice, use your body. Those are our tools, our voices and bodies are what we got. That's what we do."

Mia S.

"Power positions are important when you're trying to convey that onstage, on screen, anywhere - finding a place of power and sitting in it. You don't necessarily have to move, because that means you're like, thinking. The agitation that Danny has necessitates movement in a way, or tapping, doing things, just being in that thing that gives you that. But it also weakens you in a way, because you're as perplexed as the person on the other side because you're making a decision about what you're going to do. And once you decided, get set and get in that space. Go at that motherfucker, go at him until it's like, game over, boom! Pow, you shoot the gun, then you get up. The other shit is distracting, in a way. Find a place of power and be in it, whether you're going to stand there and be in it or sit here, but find that place of power, get in there, lock in, and lock in on the target. In this, there the sense of weakness and defeat, and what happens when you get to weakness and defeat? 'I'm not in this game with you.' You don't want to be in the game. He's forcing you to be in the game because he needs that - he needs to fuck with somebody, so he's fucking with you. You're an unwitting pawn in his game, you are getting fucking slapped around - by the time the conversation is over, 'unproductive' is not the word you want to use. 'You really hurt my feelings.' That motherfucker is broken, when this is over. When he hears that gunshot go off, it's almost like he shot him, his shit's shaking, because Danny has fucked him up. You've got to be able to plumb that and and that stuff that somewhere in you you had a disappointment of some sort, somebody has let you down, somebody who was your great friend said some shit about you and you know they said it and you can't figure out why, how or why they even want to make you feel that way. He isolated himself, and he's further isolating himself by doing that shit."

Lauren B.

I took from this lesson, a powerful character is a relaxed, calm, still and the character without any power moves around alot, scared, nervous , shaky! and it was also great seeing what the actors brought to the table, and how many of them were so different playing the role with power. great lesson!

J. G.

Its really so great to see the students use their different personalities and experience to give you great ideas as a writer (myself) how an actor “might” take what you wrote and interpret it differently...make it even better than you thought! Excites me!