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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,985 ratings  ·  201 reviews
The fascinating memoir of a Hollywood life and an inside look at a life-changing role and the groundbreaking "Lord of the Rings" films that captured the imagination of movie fans everywhere.
"The Lord of the Rings" is one of the most successful film franchises in cinematic history. Winner of a record eleven Academy Awards--a clean sweep--and breaking box office records wor
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published October 14th 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 14th 2003)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  2,985 ratings  ·  201 reviews

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Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies
I was less than half way through There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale when I decided the book was a wall-banger. There are a hundred ways to phrase why I felt this way, but I find Sean Astin said it best towards the bottom of page 180. "I have this little self-pity mechanism I can click into, I don't know why or how it developed, except that maybe sometime in my life I used it once or twice and it was effective, so I kept it in my repertoire..."

I can’t say that I like or dislike Sean Astin. I’
Jul 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, 2005
Sean Astin needs to dump that rather extensive chip off his shoulder before it drowns him in the pool of his own shallowness.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography
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
Sarah Jacquie
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: life, biography
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
Oct 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
By chapter 3 you really get a sense of who Sean Astin is: a pretentious man-child. The product of 2 critically acclaimed actors (mother is Patty Duke, step-father is John Astin) he clearly sees himself as an underdog in the Hollywood world. I'll always love 'Lord of the Rings' but lines like 'It was summer, so I could usually be found in our pool pondering business and creative issues.' will be the driving force of finishing this book. Really, its a wonder he can be in the pool and ponder at the ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jul 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography
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.
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
I didn't finish this and can't remember anything substantial of the parts I did read, but I know that it has tainted my perception of this actor so heavily that I now fast forward the appendices to the movies whenever he talks. I watch those often and I have done so regularly ever since the DVDs were first released, but now I can't help but see him as a whiny, egocentric and deeply envious little man baby. Someone should have told him that this book would not do him any favours. ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had once read an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow where she explained how she places her films into two categories: good films and bad films. She seemed honest, but ungrateful, about her entire career. I remember finding her unattractive and boring, disappointed someone could lose so much perspective despite all the success and opportunity they had.

And, unfortunately, that is how I view Sean Astin in There and Back Again An Actor's Tale.

Astin's book reveals a number of insecurities, such as not
Nov 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Aug 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Blech. Don't waste your time. Very disappointing. ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edit: read twice back to back and love it even more!

Audio book.

I utterly adored this book!

Go listen to it!

That is all.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
If I can only give you one piece of advice in this lifetime, it would be this...if you decide to undertake this reading adventure, you will want back the time that you invested. I started reading this thinking it could be an interesting behind the scenes thing and ended this book because it was me against Sean Astin. I was determined to finish this book even if it killed me! I consider myself a victor!
Chelsea Frandsen
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Biased disclaimer one: I am a theatrical artist. An actor/director/writer who has had to work to achieve all that I have achieved so far. Working in the stage a screen industry is hard--REALLY hard. Nevermind Hollywood or Broadway, "making it" anywhere in the film and theatre industry is no easy feat.

Biased disclaimer two: I have met Sean Astin. He is a very humble, down-to-earth conscientious "working actor". He is open and kind to everyone he meets and works with. Sure, he tends to worry a bit
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
Jun 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, memoir
For fans of The Lord of the Rings series, this audio book is a must. Well written and well read by the author, Sean Astin gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the trilogy. Most interesting were his personal views on the getting the part of Samwise Gamgee and what he brought to that role. Also included are tidbits of what it was like to have two famous actors as parents. What was it like to spend nearly 2 years on set in New Zealand, filming three movies at one time? Sean Astin sp ...more
Jun 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It wasn't what I expected. I ended up skimming through it and reading certain pages as apose to the whole book cover to cover. ...more
Benjamin Geweke
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
"His nickname was Bungee, and his skin was stretched so tight over his skull that he looked like a living, breathing cadaver."

It would be really easy to dismiss a book with sentences written like the one above and just make fun of it.

So I try to make another case for this book: It is a brutally honest depiction into the inner workings of a narcissistic mind.

We have the grandiose view of self:

"We would sit there together, two titans of the cinema, one recognized for his genius, the other on the c
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
The co-writer did a terrible job and this book makes everyone look bad, especially Sean. It sounds like he was talking to his shrink for most of it, and not in a juicy way. There were a few good on-set stories and snippets, that's the only reason I finished it. It would have been 1 star except I learned that the original ending for the Fellowship had Sam and Frodo paddling across the river and Uruk-Hai jumping out of the water(?!) to attack them! ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I was excited to read this but ended up disappointed. There's not much to say that the other reviews haven't. The constant whininess and complaining got old pretty fast and I soon became only interested in the tidbits about the other actors. Very disappointed. The rating should be lower but as a LOTR fan I just can't do it. ...more
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Tolkien's T.C.B.S: There and back again 3 20 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

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