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Being an Actor, Revised and Expanded Edition

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A new edition of the classic book for actors starting their careers, with new material

Few actors have ever been more eloquent, more honest, or more entertaining about their life and their profession than Simon Callow, one of the finest actors of his time and increasingly one of the most admired writers about the theater.

Beginning with the letter to Laurence Olivier that pr
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 23rd 2003 by Picador (first published 1984)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  138 ratings  ·  11 reviews


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Colin McPhillamy
The first time I read this book was back in 1983, the year of my graduation. I read with mounting frustration and envy; 'Why him?!' Thirty years on, the youthful ambition of a new actor has more or less evaporated, replaced with a modulated enjoyment of the craft. Callow's book is quite excellent. The original text remains unchanged and give a generous, personal account of his beginnings as an actor. The new material presents some close technical analysis of roles, plays, and the state of the pr ...more
Whitney Moore
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took a detour (from Anthony Sher's book on playing Lear) to read this lengthier-than-expected "look behind the stage curtains" by Simon Callow. I liked it very much, especially his honesty about how vulnerable it is to live as actors do. Frequently unemployed, for one thing, of which he says, "That’s the hardest: acclaim being followed by unemployment. One feels like a puppy, picked up and fussed over until a new diversion occurs, at which one is summarily dropped back on to the floor... it ha ...more
Suri Nath
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best book on acting, rather on preparing for acting, that I have come across. Precise in detailing approaches to various roles. When failed, no self pitying; when succeeded, no gloating. I liked his simple narration...
Mike
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting autobiography of a well-known actor
B
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great when he's explaining the chronology of auditioning and rehearsing a play up through opening night, the run, and closing night. If you're an actor, you learn a bit about some obscure British theatre practices, but mostly you just sit there thinking "Yes! It is just like that!" Which makes me think that this is a book for people who aren't actors to find out what being an actor is like. The whole book is worth the First Rehearsal chapter. There's a theatre company I work for who ...more
Lady Jane
A new author! I have known his acting work for a while (through movies and the BBC), but did not know about his writing until I was given this book for my birthday. Although much of the book is thoughtful and interesting, it is also very funny in a wry, British way. I was sitting at the kitchen table laughing out loud, thoroughly enjoying myself as I read my way through his life as a youthful, idealistic, hedonistic and headstrong young actor. I am glad that although he added an essay or two in ...more
Lia Aprile
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: actors, directors, playwrights, anyone who loves the theatre (and also hates it)
I underlined and quoted from this book like ca-razy while reading it. His insight into the process of making theatre, discovering who one is as an actor, building a role, finding out--above and beyond being an actor--what kind of artist one is, and trying to survive the lonliness/unemployment and requisite self-doubt that comes along with the job are totally incredible. His stories from the 70's hey-day of fringe-y theatre are super great (I love how obsessive the Brits are about their theeeeeat ...more
Hank Lin
Aug 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the land of blind, Simon Callow is a one-eyed king. No autobiography, nor memoir, nor acting journal has ever reached the pathos and technical insight this book offers into an industry/medium/art which purposefully obfuscates its merits. Strangely, the more Callow lays himself bare and becomes emotionally naked and individual, the more accessible he is as a conduit for any struggling, beginner, or professional actor.
Kate
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theater
This book meant so much to me at the time I read it, seemingly on the cusp of being a real working actor.
Robert
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book on being an actor and trying to find and do good work.
Sara
Mar 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The section on acting was entertaining and informative. The biographical section left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
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