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How to Stop Acting

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  25 reviews
"The Great Guskin" (John Lahr, The New Yorker) shares the approach he uses to help actors land roles, develop them, and keep them alive

Harold Guskin is an "acting doctor" whose clients include Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, James Gandolfini, Bridget Fonda, and dozens more. In How to Stop Acting, Guskin reveals the insights and techniques that have worked wonders for beginners a
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 25th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could've written this book because it was like reading my thoughts exactly! Just Brilliant! Hope every actor gets to read this book.
Joshua Grisetti
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is wonderful book for seasoned actors to get out of their heads, and out of their own way. It's a very useful technique of actors with a trustworthy intuition. That is, actors who have some awareness that their instincts and choices are more or less valid, and merely need to access/harness those strong instincts. In other words, I believe this way of viewing acting is best suited for advanced level actors. I would recommend it to any performer who has already been exposed to traditional act ...more
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
I could not have been the mediocre improv performer/acting student I was without it. ;-)
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: misc
While acknowledging a debt to Stanislavski's method, the author suggests ways to break with that canon and experiment in a way that allows one's subconscious a larger role. Only an actor would really be able to appreciate or judge this book.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre, favorites, 2000s
Hands down my favorite book on acting. The Taking It Off The Page technique is how I always begin work on a new role, and it frees me up to make interesting choices each time I run through it, rather than getting set into a particular read. I apply a lot of the techniques from this book when I'm teaching or directing, and they work wonders for easing actors out of their comfort zones and into bold new choices. Highly recommend for actors, directors, and teachers.
Ella Mitsch
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The reason it took so long to read this book...I lost it...also the concepts were kinda hard to understand. Don’t get me wrong I certainly learnt a lot but I guess because you have to have life experience before going into acting and also being able to understand a book line this. So perhaps when I’m just that bit older I’ll pick this book up again and maybe enjoy it just that bit more.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-theory
This is one of the first books I go to if I'm struggling with a character. Harold is a man who knows what he’s talking about, and if you love acting you should devour every single word he has put down in this book.
Samuel Lourcey
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest acting books I've ever read.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Great book for freeing frustrated actors; if, however, you are just starting out and are looking for how to approach a character to play it, you might not want to read this book first.
Alexis Fedor
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Took a class with him. It's the best work to stay in flow and go for it.
Steve Scott
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was tasked with doing some homework and to be passing familiar with Guskin’s process prior to an audition tonight p...but was told that reading the book wasn’t necessary. Well, of course I got the book.

It was way beyond interesting. It may prove to be useful beyond the audition...and even if I don’t get the role. Guskin provides a number of resources for practicing his process (he avoids the word “technique”...I apply “process”). I plan on getting those. He’s fond of Chekhov, whose plays I’ve
Andrea Draper
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tips are amazing and easy to put to use. I found a lot of acting books to be so focus on what acting should be they don't tell you the key concept of why you need to learn and understand the craft of acting. This book shows why you have to stop acting and act and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Good ideas here, probably a 3.5 for actors. But it’s really about the workshops and training he has offered to actors like Kevin Kline and Glenn Close. To really understand and benefit from the techniques one would really have to be part of an actual workshop.
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A game changer for actors. This is one that I want to buy and keep with me all the time.
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let go, let go, let go!! <3 <3 ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Read this before you think about taking an acting class.
George Watkins
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Diana Nam
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If u r an actor or pursing acting, this book HAS to be on your shelf, and don't read it once, read as many times as u need to inhale it completely.
Liz Lambert
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this acting book. Has great tips and tricks, and it explains a new acting technique that I can't wait to put into practice.
Ben Brown
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: acting, self-help
Great read!
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: frustrated actors
Recommended to Allison by: Helen Manfull
Shelves: drama, favorites
This book brings acting back to a place of endless possibility and creativity. Guskin stresses that you must give up control of your work--which is scary, but also very liberating. I've definitely felt like a lot of the techniques I've learned in class have weighed me down and kept me from enjoying myself onstage, so this book is a saving grace. If you feel stuck in your acting, I highly recommend this book. ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was recommended to me by Matt Newton when I'd attended one of his classes. He'd said that it helped him as did many of the folks who'd left reviews about this book here and on While I did come away with some good advice, this book didn't unlock any keys to the universe for me (as did On Method Acting by Edward Dwight Easty & The Art of Acting by Stella Adler!) I guess that's why there are so many acting books and schools and methods. Because, like the songs says, "what migh ...more
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fresh and interesting way to approach acting- written by a renowned acting coach- it's funny and contains forst hand accounts of his training sessions with famous actors such as Kevin Klein and Glenn Close.
Sergio Lima
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uma mudança radical na minha perspectiva de atuação.
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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“Actors always want to know how I come up with interesting and creative takes on characters, characters that aren’t like me as I appear in daily life and that aren’t like each other. It’s simple: I let the lines and images connect with my imagination. I don’t worry about consistency; I let myself respond moment by moment, piecemeal, to the character’s dialogue and actions. Then I let my responses take me wherever they go, making mistakes and discarding them until choices start repeating themselves on their own no matter how arbitrary they seem at first. Then I know I’m on to something. But I don’t try to put the character together. I leave it in pieces. The script and story put the character together so my moment by moment performance seems like a creative take on the whole character.” 1 likes
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