Masterclass – Samuel L. Jackson Teaches Acting
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.
You know Samuel L. Jackson from iconic films like Pulp Fiction and Die Hard with a Vengeance. Now he’s your acting teacher. Sam shares his goals for his MasterClass, as well as his mindset toward acting: it’s an adventure.
- Creating Characters
Learn how Sam imbues every role with a sense of purpose and complexity of character-even if they only appear on screen for a few minutes. In this lesson, he shares the fundamentals of his characterization process.
- Physical Characterization
Sam dives deep into the myriad ways actors can use their bodies to reflect their characters’ personalities. Learn how to use posture, gait, voice, and physical appearance to add complexity to your characters.
- Case Study: Caveman’s Valentine
Sam breaks down the nuances of his characterization process and performance as Romulus, a prodigal but schizophrenic and homeless concert pianist, in The Caveman’s Valentine.
- Student Session: Breaking Down a Script – Part 1
Sam directs student actors in a workshop, and the first scene on the docket is the iconic diner scene from Pulp Fiction. In this lesson, Sam helps them break down the script to gain a deeper understanding of the characters’ intentions.
- Student Session: Breaking Down a Script – Part 2
Get inside Jules’s head as Sam breaks down the Ezekiel passage and walks the students through the different ways the character could perform the scene.
- Student Session: Character Biographies
Creating in-depth character backstory is an integral part of Sam’s process. He pushes the students to develop a connection with Jules by imagining his life story and how he got to this moment in the diner.
- Student Session: Make It Your Own
One of the student actors puts a unique spin on Jules, showing that there are many “right” ways to create characters.
- Voice & Character
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.
- Student Session: Plumb Your Emotional Depths
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.
- 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.
- Working With Directors
Learn Sam’s tried-and-true methods for developing strong working relationships with directors.
- On-Set Collaboration
Sam describes the movie set environment as “a moving circus.” Learn his code of on-set conduct, which has earned him respect throughout the industry as a true professional.
- Student Session: Developing Characterization
On the surface, this Kingsman scene is a simple conversation between two characters. The actors’ task is to dig deeper, access the subtext of the exchange, and create characters who will make the otherwise “bland” dialogue more interesting.
- Student Session: Making Bold Choices
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.
- Enriching Your Acting Practice
Sam encourages you to nurture a sense of curiosity and explore stories set in worlds that you are unfamiliar with, so that you have a more expansive view of the characters you take on throughout your acting career.
Don’t walk into a casting room thinking about the job; go in with the goal of demonstrating your skill as an actor. Sam gives you this and more time-tested rules for auditioning.
- Growing Your Acting Career
Sam walks you through the most important business relationships you’ll form as an actor, and offers wisdom on how to best work with them.
- Sam’s Journey From New York to Hollywood
Learn how Sam got “plucked” from the Negro Ensemble Company, where he performed alongside Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, to go to Hollywood.
- Hollywood Lessons
Sam shares three very personal lessons learned over the decades he’s spent in Hollywood.
When you finish this MasterClass and continue your career in acting, Sam urges you to remember your responsibility to your audience-and to the world at large.
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