There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale
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There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,630 ratings  ·  129 reviews

When Sean Astin, veteran Hollywood actor of over 30 movies including The Goonies, and Rudy, landed the part of Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, he knew it was going to be different to anything he'd ever worked on before. Here he shares his heartfelt opinions on his early movies, how he got the part of Sam at that point in his career, and what it was like to be on s

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published (first published October 14th 2003)
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Follow all my reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I was less than half way through when I decided I was annoyed with this book. There are a hundred ways to phrase why I felt this way but I think Sean Astin said it best towards the bottom of page 180, “… I have this little self-pity mechanism I can click into…” Little is a relative term.

I can’t say that I like or dislike Sean Astin. I’ve never met him. I can say that this book doesn’t portray him in a positive light. He comes off...more
So far so good. He's a little rambling, a little whiny, but it's still a book I'll finish.


Update 7/27/10

Oh Sean. Really? You couldn't get an editor? None of your friends would sit you down and say "If you publish this hot mess, you're going to make everyone you've ever worked with, as well as yourself, look bad." ??

As other reviewers have noted, the author spends much of his time snarking and whinging, and the rest of his time backpedaling and self-depreciating. "Oh woe is me, I am n...more
Sean Astin needs to dump that rather extensive chip off his shoulder before it drowns him in the pool of his own shallowness.
Oh, I wanted to love this book! Sean Astin was my very first Hollywood crush when he was in The Goonies. I just thought he was the most adorable, well rounded, down to earth kid. He had a fantastic mom (Patty Duke, who I adore), and I plastered my walls with his posters. Then, this book came out and I was sorely disappointed to read what basically amounted to a spoiled rant about his co-stars lack of professionalism, complaints about not getting treated fairly on set, the list goes on and on. It...more
You know, for an actor who started in childhood with The Goonies, had famous Hollywood parents, and spent two years in New Zealand filming a legendary movie trilogy, Sean Astin's memoir is remarkably boring. I think I was really expecting this book to be more anecdotes and less self-flagellation at how selfish and short-sighted he has been at various points in his life. The navel gazing gets old. Fast.

This is the book of someone who feels that he has acted badly and wants very much for people t...more
Sarah Jacquie
Okay, I love Tolkien and the LOTR movies, but I probably never would have read this if it weren't for the reviews I saw beforehand. Yes, I read this because I knew it was bad and had to see for myself.

It was pretty bad, I admit. So bad, I would stop my mum or boyfriend and read out loud a passage and we'd laugh. Astin is very egocentric, yet self deprecating at the same time - a very bizarre, confusing, and unappealing mix.

I think this picture pretty much sums up how Sean Astin seems himself an...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
I read b/c I am a huge lifetime fan of the LOTR books, and I felt the movies surprisingly did right by JRRT! Also, I had just read and enjoyed Leonard Nimoy's I AM SPOCK. This was a bargain book, and based on the above interests, I thought it would be worth a try. I hoped I would like it.

Well, the stories in this book for the most part were not what I was hoping. Content is much less about the filming process and location than it is about Astin's mental/emotional process and insecurities. It's a...more
I loved the Lord of the Rings movies and thought Astin was well-cast as Samwise, so I went into this memoir expecting to like it. Alack! Instead Astin comes across as self-pitying, self-aggrandizing, and self-absorbed and there are few tidbits about the LotR movies to make up for it.
Unfortunately, this book suffers from the author's apparent needs to 1) come off as modest and self-effacing and 2) not offend or piss off anyone in the movie industry.

I was fascinated to read an insider's story about what it had been like to film my favorite movie trilogy of all times - Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. And who better to tell this tale than Samwise Gamgee himself, actor Sean Astin.

Rather than a narrative or collection of anecdotes about what filming such an epic film had b...more
May 25, 2009 Ginger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that like comedy.
Shelves: 2009
I absolutely loved this book for all the wrong reasons. The writing is atrocious and incredibly vain. Very little thought was given to structure or editing. The entire idea of Mr. Astin writing a book is incorrectly founded on his belief that he is a renaissance man. All that aside, I just could not put this down.
From the very start Astin makes ridiculous statement after ridiculous statement. On the first page he asserts that sometimes you have to just do whatever script you get as long as there...more
I can't express how very much I enjoyed this. I remember being unsure about watching the LOTR films, because I had not read the books; however, Peter Jackson did such an awesome job bringing them to life that it was okay if you hadn't read the books beforehand.

I've been a fan of Sean Astin for years. I was absolutely fascinated by his tales of the filming of the trilogy, his relationships with his fellow actors, the people he met, his feelings, hopes, everything he experienced. It's always fun t...more
Sep 04, 2014 ^ rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I absolutely would NOT recommend this book. I would also avoid this publisher.
Mr Sean Astin comes over as the most self-centred, most deluded, most insecure man I have never met. “High maintenance” is a term that could have been invented just for him; a self-absorbed creation working in a world of fantasy. In brief, I entirely agree with every word of Erin’s review (and also with Nata’s comment to Erin’s review).

I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was eleven years old, and have read it three further times since. I went to the cinema to see all three films wh...more
This is basically Sean Astin's autobiography. The first 1/3 talks about his movie career prior to the LOTR movies, focusing mostly on ENCINO MAN forward. The last 2/3 is about the filming of LOTR and the aftermath of their release.

Astin primarily focuses on his emotional and philosphical challenges over the course of the book. He name-drops a lot of actors he worked with, drops and anecdote or two, and then over-analyzes their relationship.

Most of the book is Astin navel-gazing, actually. It g...more
This story is well-written and very well told by the author…

It was a joy to go behind the scenes and experience some of the filming and creation of the Lord of the Rings. But it was even more enjoyable to learn a little more about this talented actor and director and to see life through his eyes.

A well told story and enjoyable to listen to.
Clare O'Beara
I found this an enjoyable memoir and well worth a read for anyone who liked the films of The Lord of the Rings or wants to be an actor.

Sean, known to us as Samwise Gamgee, had an earlier role in The Goonies so he can compare not alone the settings but the directors Spielberg and Jackson. He went to the casting interviews with a Cockney accent suggested by his voice coach, but while liking the actor for the role, the casting director knew that a countryside accent would be much more appropriate f...more
Make that 3 and 1/2 stars. This book tells you all the inside scoop on much of the making of the LOTR movies (although Astin and Elijah Wood were off filming Frodo and Sam's parts, so there aren't many stories about the other actors and their experiences). Sam Gamgee is my favorite character in the trilogy. Astin spends the first third of the book describing his own career pre-Samwise, and it's interesting reading. The thing that drove me nuts about the book was the repeated format of the author...more
This book was horrible. According to Sean Astin he is like star trek, you have an enormous federation of starships yet for some reason there is only one competent crew in the whole fleet. Astin walks around as gods gift to acting except other than LOTR he has been doing bit jobs. Hard to claim you are some acting genius when the cast of iCarly has had more success than you.
This was a very interesting peek into the journey of making the Lord of the Rings. I kind of wanted more juicy stuff on the actors, and not so much Sean's own personal acting career, but hey - it's his book.
I am sorry I read this book.

It left me with an impression of a whiny, disgruntled actor with little clue as to what he wants to do with his life, but he wants us all to know how brilliant, gifted and humble he is.
Read this years ago. My first impressions as I read the book were why did he write this? I did not see any other actor doing such a memoir. It just made me feel suspicious for whatever reason. And I also remember feeling that it kind of rambled like he really did not know himself why he wanted to write the book or who his audience was.

Some other parts read rather 'self important' and he even mentioned, or at least that is what I remember, that he had some mental issues but did not want to talk...more
I think this has to be one of the worst books I've ever read. I've lost all respect for Sean Astin as an actor and it's even tainted my feelings for the LOTR movies as I have to watch him in them :(

He comes across as an incredibly spoilt and whiny person. I feel sorry for Peter Jackson and the rest of the cast and crew who had to deal with him. You have to wonder if this book has prevented him getting work since, as it really does not portray him in a good light. Whoever told him it was a good i...more
Blech. Don't waste your time. Very disappointing.
I've had this book sat on my shelves for ages and I was quite looking forward to reading it. Judging by the title, blurb and cover illustration I was hoping to read a bit more about the filming of the Lord of the Rings - why subtitle it 'a behind-the-scenes look at the Lord of the Rings' if it is in fact an autobiography with only a handful of chapters at the end and a few picture pages dedicated to the trilogy. In spite of this disappointment, I was not put off reading the entire book and did f...more
So, I FINALLY finished this book! Non-fiction takes a lot longer to go through than fiction.
Anyways. I really, really, really liked this book. It was funny, and I was able to exercise my nerdness to the fullest extent.
He spent most of the first half of the book doing a re-cap of his life (i.e. how he got into the movie biz and what he wanted to get out of it, and how he met his wife, and all that jazz). In a few of the reviews I read people found this annoying. I, however, didn't. I really liked...more
Garrett Burnett
Dec 08, 2008 Garrett Burnett rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My enemies
In the "bargain books" bin at the Xavier University bookstore I spotted There and Back Again by Sean Astin for the enticing price of 3 bucks. Sorry, Mr. Astin, not enticing enough. My next visit to the bookstore revealed that the price had dropped to a dollar. I compare what happened next to staying out in the cold for a long period before coming in to a room where someone has the sniffles. I was susceptible and my defenses were down. I bought the book. I intended to pass it on (like a virus) to...more
Feb 17, 2013 Josh rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not really anyone
After reading this autobiography, I don't know if I want to praise or beat the crap out of Sean Astin. I mean you have to give him some credit for being so honest and self-aware. At the same time, however, he is unbelievably unbearable to be around. I don't think I would be able to spend any time whatsoever in his presence. He is such a Debbie Downer - so whiny, neurotic, petty, and ungrateful. I was truly shocked by my feelings about him after I closed the book. At times, I didn't want to read...more
Kiirsi Hellewell
I would give this 2.5 stars if I could...between "it was ok" and "I liked it."

I did like it, in parts. I picked it up because I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and have been for 25 years. I wanted to hear all kinds of fun, interesting and new behind-the-scenes info (beyond the DVD extended edition "special features") from my favorite movies.

I did get some of that, but not a whole lot. I did get a better understanding of who Sean Astin is as a person. But he jumped back and forth so mi...more
Cristina Montes
Not a great book, but an interesting read if you're into LOTR and if you're interested in learning the "behind-the-scenes" of the LOTR movies from a first-hand source (although a good number of the anecdotes were already included in the special features of the extended editions of the LOTR DVDs.) Very candid about the movie industry, the interactions among the LOTR cast members and the production crew, and the author himself, warts and all. Sometimes too candid (which makes the book interesting,...more
I don't understand why people pick up a book that is basically an autobiography, and then bitch because it's autobiographical.

Hello? This is a book about Sean Astin and his development as an actor/director/filmmaker. Which just happens to include the LOTR movies.

If you were looking for a book just about the LOTR movies, then maybe you should have read one of the "making of" books instead.

Anyway, I'm enjoying it so far. He's just gotten to 1999, so the LOTR bits are still to come.

Finished the boo...more
Jules Q (Nolatari)
Nov 23, 2007 Jules Q (Nolatari) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: film buffs
You don’t have to know me very long to discover my great love for Lord of the Rings, both book and films. I never tire of hearing the stories surrounding the history-making production of the movies, and I seek out all behind-the-scenes information that I can find, specifically when related to the cast of the trilogy. It brings me great joy, and it is a touchpoint in my lifelong passion for film and celebrities. Sean Astin’s book, while essentially an autobiography of a Hollywood child’s life, si...more
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Tolkien's T.C.B.S: There and back again 3 14 Jul 12, 2013 05:33AM  
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Sean Astin (born Sean Patrick Duke) is an American film actor, director, and producer better known for his film roles as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In 2004, Astin released There and Back Again, a memoir (co-written with Joe Layden) of his film career with emphasis on his experiences with the Lord of the Rings trilog...more
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