Lamar Giles
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April, 2012

What you can learn from Sam Jackson (other than cool ways to say f***)

courtesy of IMDB.com

I just read this incredible NY Times article on Samuel L. Jackson and felt the need to wax philosophical on the benefits of preparation.

It was a quote by director William Friedkind (Rules of Engagement) that stood out to me initially (a lot in the article stands out and I could base a series of posts on the phenomenal actor’s life, but for now…), “Sam is a director’s dream. Some actors hope to find their character during shooting. He knows his character before shooting. Sam’s old-school. I just got out of his way. I never did more than two takes with Sam.”

I put the emphasis on ‘before’. For a reason.

For Spring 2012, Jeremy Lin has been the international poster boy for ‘readiness’, the idea of maximizing a singular opportunity even when you’re at the low point of your career. It’s a great in-the-moment story, but it remains to be seen if we’ll be discussing Jeremy in the same breath as the greats (or even next year).

Sam Jackson’s longevity stretches back 40 years. HE DIDN’T GET HIS BIG BREAK UNTIL 1994! But he’s maintained the same level of preparation and professionalism through feast AND famine. Let’s be real…the last 2 decades have been a fantastic feast for him. He averages 4 movies and 300K in residuals per year, he’s the highest grossing actor in history, this guy could phone it in for the rest of his life and still be a BAMF (go to any crowded theater/fanboy flick and anticipate cheers if he should pop up…it happens every time).

My point: this isn’t a guy who shows up on set hungover, with an assistant making up cue cards because he doesn’t know his lines. He could. But he doesn’t. He’s still treating the work like he’s struggling, like he’s not the most memorable character from Pulp Fiction, or Mace Windu, or effing Nick Fury.

After all his massive success, he’s still ready BEFORE.

Are you?

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