Chapter 9 of 21 from Samuel L. Jackson

Voice & Character

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Sam reveals how his childhood experiences have informed his approach to character voices throughout his career, and discusses his method of developing a vocalization plan.

Topics include: Overcoming a Stutter • Creating a Lisp for Valentine in Kingsman • Using Vocal References in The Mountaintop • Develop a Vocalization Plan • Vocal Warmups • Creating Different Characters in Voice-Over Acting • Creating a Universal Voice in I Am Not Your Negro • Play With Energy to Reach Youthful Audiences

Samuel L. Jackson

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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There are a lot of us, you know-- James Earl Jones, Bruce Willis, uh, Emily Blunt. I think I spent-- what was that-- my fourth-grade year, I got laughed at in class one day because I was [STUTTERING]. So I didn't talk for a year. So the teachers were sympathetic. And they knew I could read. So they didn't have to ask me to read out loud, you know, when they were trying to get people to read passages out loud to see if they could actually read or whatever. And I passed all the spelling tests, so I don't really need to do a lot of talking. The more confident I got in my intelligence and my persona, the more able I was to deal with how I wanted to express myself and not use specific consonants or things that caught me, 'cause I would know early in the day if I was having a C day and it was cu-- cu-- cu. So I didn't use those words. Or if I'm having a B day, bu-- bu-- bu, the worst days are the W days, 'cause I still have things, sentences that start with what, why, when. It's like [STUTTERING], 'cause it's hard to fix that, to find the alternative word that you can start a sentence with. Motherfucker was my, you know, Elmer Fudd word. You know, [STUTTERING] motherfucker, OK, I can get it out now. Yeah, yes, it was. And there are several movies that I can look at and go [LAUGHTER]. I mean, in "Jungle Fever," when I was trying to ask Spike what he did for a living in-- in-- in the park, it was [STUTTERING]. And it worked for Gator, because he was just kind of caught up in whatever. But I could not get what is it you do again. [STAMMERING] And he just kept it in the movie, which is fine. I realized that we were doing a Bond spoof. And all Bond villains have something. You know, Goldfinger had something. Yaphet Kotto had whatever he had. And because I stuttered when I was a kid, I know people had this thing about people's speech patterns. And they think less of you when you have something, you know. And I didn't want to stutter. But I know that a lisp is one of those things that people look at. And they kind of go-- you know, they snigger at you when I have them. The clothes just happened. So all of a sudden, everybody thought I was doing a Russell Simmons impression. But, you know, I just chose that Valentine would do that. And the director wasn't sure about that for a minute. You know, the first time I showed up during rehearsal, and I did it, he was like, what are you doing? And I was like, I'm working on a character thing. And he was like, are you gonna do that the whole movie? I'm like, yeah. He was like, why? I was like, why not? It's a Bond movie. And he was like, well, let me listen to it. You know, I don't know. And I'm like, look. One of the baddest people on the planet had a lisp. And he was like, who are you talking about? I was like, Mike Tyson. And he was like, oh, really. And over the course of a day, a day and a half, he got used to it, and he loved it. And for me, you know, it's easy to ju...

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. For the first time, the Oscar nominated star teaches 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.

Watch, listen, and learn as Sam teaches his first-ever acting class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Sam will also answer select student questions.

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Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson Teaches Acting