Arts & Entertainment

Working With Directors

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 12:24 min

Learn Sam’s tried-and-true methods for developing strong working relationships with directors.

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

Topics include: Show Up With Too Much • The Three Kinds of Directors • Learn Your Director's Goals • Resist the Need for External Validation • The Director Isn't Always Right • Learn From Good Directors


Let's remember, we are in the business of make believe. So there is no limit to what you can make believe. Go as far as you can go. One of the things I always tend to do when I show up to do anything is show with too much. It's way easier for a director to ask you to drop this, drop that, don't use this, don't do that, than it is for him to try and pull something out of you that you haven't figured out, or you need to figure out because he's trying to pull the performance out of you. Show up with much shit. It's easy to drop something than it is to find something and pick it up. The actor-director relationship, in the theater, it's one thing. In the movies, there's a couple of different things, because you have guys who are shooters, and you have guys who are writer/directors. And you have guys who are lucky to be there. So the shooters, the shooters hired you, and they're glad you're there, because they're going to leave you alone to do the performance so they can get it. So all they're concerned with is composition of shot. They just want to make sure they got their shot composed, and they trust you to do what you do. Those guys, I love them, because I mean you hired me for a reason, and hopefully I'm going to give you what you want, and you hired some other people that are going to give you what you want, and everything is going to be fabulous. All you got to do is make sure you get it in the camera and shoot it. Writer/directors, depending upon who they are, sometimes they know what they wrote. And sometimes they don't. And hopefully, they're not very precious about what they wrote, because one thing's for sure when you hire me, you're getting a black actor. And if you wrote it, and you didn't see a black actor when you wrote it, or even if you saw one, sometimes what you put in my mouth is not how I talk, depending upon what I read. You created a character who's a lot more educated than you allow him to speak. You know, I can conjugate. And a lot of people can't. So I don't need you to write black vernacular for me. I can say what you want said, but you need to say it this way. If I'm from somewhere else, I can say it that way. But from what you have here, and who this character is, he's a lot smarter and more educated than you made him speak. We don't all speak like somebody on a rap video. So I can fix that for you if you'll let me. And if your ego is not too precious, then all I'm doing is making your movie better, I hope. Sometimes you have to go back the other way. You've written this character, you've elevated this character, but that's not who that character is. He needs to not be able to conjugate as well as this character. And there are things about him that are very different in terms of the way he looks at the world, in terms of right, wrong, and otherwise, that impact on how he reacts with the other people in the script, and we can talk about that. And a lot of those writer/directors are open to that, you ...

About the Instructor

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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Samuel L. Jackson

One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.

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