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There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings [Hardcover]

Sean Astin , Joe Layden
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Sep 2004
Peter Jackson's epic take on JRR Tolkien's classic tale The Lord of the Rings has become a cinematic phenomenon - a trilogy filmed together, over eighteen months and with the cast becoming a close-knit family. Sean Astin is a veteran of over 30 movies, but knew that this would be different. Cast as Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's devoted friend, Sean lived the dream at first hand, even directing a film about the making of the trilogy for the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In There and Back Again, Sean shares his experiences of the time and his, as yet unheard and often controversial opinions on, among other things: The other cast members including Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler. The direction; The producers; The dangers on set; There and Back Again is a personal behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be involved in making one of the biggest movie franchises of all time from one of the main actors on set.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books; 1st Edition.1st Printing edition (23 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852271493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852271497
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 815,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Refreshing ... a much better sense of an actor's life than a hundred kiss 'n' tells' -- Starburst

A highly compelling and involving tale -- Film Review

Absolutely fabulous stuff! -- Star magazine

Fans of Peter Jackson's majestic trilogy will lap it up -- Total Film

Full of titbits, tales and tantrums from the set, it's a great insight into everything that happened...during filming -- SFX

From the Back Cover

Much has been written about Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings - the highest-grossing trilogy of all time - but, until now, there hasn't been such a personal, in-depth account from the set.

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 set for nearly two years of his life. How did he and the other cast members get along? What were the excitements and the dangers they faced during filming? What happened the evening that Elijah Wood lost the keys to his room? How did Sir Ian McKellen cope when he didn't like the music the hobbits listened to during make-up and what happened when the crew considered striking?

Revealing and immensely readable, There and Back Again is the behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be involved in the making of one of the biggest movie franchises of all time.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I sensed from the very beginning that The Lord of the Rings had the potential to be something extraordinary. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There and back again 28 Dec 2005
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Sean Astin is best known to film geeks around the world as Sam Gamgee, the lovable gardener in "Lord of the Rings." But there's a man behind the hobbit, and in "There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale," Astin gives us a glimpse of his life, his work, his family, and his time during the making of the immortal film trilogy.

Astin was born into a Hollywood family -- his mother was Patty Duke, and the guy he thought was his biological father was John Astin. But his early family life was marred by Duke's manic-depressive illness, and the question of who his biological father was (he now calls four men "Dad"). He made his movie debut in "The Goonies" when he was thirteen, and continued acting in various movies including "Rudy," the recent goofy romance "50 First Dates," and even created a sweet short film, "The Long and Short of It."

In 1998, Astin got the role of a lifetime -- Samwise Gamgee, hobbit Frodo Baggins' loyal pal and pillar of strength. So Astin gained weight, packed up his wife and daughter, and went to idyllic New Zealand for eighteen months. In this book, Astin reveals the hardships, the revelations, and the friendships from the vast movie shoot, and what came after.

People just looking for more behind-the-scenes movie dirt may be initially disappointed by "There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale," since it focuses a lot on Astin's non-"Rings" life. But this isn't just a "Rings" story -- it's Astin's story. He focuses not just on the "Rings" trilogy, but on his own struggles and triumphs. And his life story is an interesting read that seems to mirror Astin's own personality: erudite, funny, friendly, sad and family-oriented.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A better title for this book would have been "Me! Me! Me" or "Poor me!" or "Three years of imaginary slights from fellow cast members revisited".
For fans of the movie franchise this reveals some things that have never been discussed in public before and as such constitutes a 'must have', but when it comes to the real 'meat' of acting in the movies, from Astin or any other cast member, this is very much an offering for vegetarians. Instead what one gets is 'the private diary of Sean Astin, aged 14 3/4' - or at least that's how it reads. Despite the impression that this is a book about LOTR it's over a hundred pages before Astin really gets onto the subject, and then we're into a long barrage of 'damning with faint praise' or long rants about imagined slights from fellow actors. At one point Astin argues that he's not a Hollywood brat, but this book seems to make a very strong case that he is - and an insecure, arrogant, bitter, hypocritical and self-obsessed one at that.
Most of Astin's fellow-actors are criticised over extremely trivial things. So we get complaints about Mortensen's 'trench warfare' in bombarding the writers with suggestions, complaints about Bloom not stopping a conversation with a Hollywood bigwig at Cannes when the obviously-more-important Mr Astin arrives, or complaints about McKellen and Holm (real actors, Sean!) not having the hypocrisy to repay his 'Your acting's fantastic' compliment.
Given that large sections of the book are given over to public apologies to those he's abused in interviews in the past (Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis) you'd think he'd have known better and learnt from past mistakes, but alas not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very honest book! 9 Oct 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is nicely structured explaining, not just Sean's involvement with Lord Of The Rings, but also his previous movies. How things were different on various movie sets, how Sean was treated, and what other things were going on in his life at the time of certain movies etc.
The main focus on Lord Of The Rings is so honest and striking. Sean doesn't hold back how he was feeling about certain elements of filming or how he interacted with the other actors on set. In some places it paints quite a different picture to how he appeared in public when talking about the movies.
The book also has quite a few surprises from Sean, on how he perceived certain things on LOTR, and very courageously he doesn't hold back from showing his insecurities and fears.
An enjoyable book for any LOTR fan or person that wants to know more about Sean and the day to day hardships of the acting world. The only down point was some of the text is a little repetitive, but it is written in Sean's rambling style, and that's just him; you can almost hear him say the words.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Going there but not quite back again 21 Sep 2004
Format:Hardcover
This book is of two minds. It wants to tell you about this great epic battle in New Zealand that produced this astonishing trilogy going on to conquer the world. And it wants you to tell about the life and times of Sean Astin, the director-actor. It shoud have been a rare opportunity to travel with a fellow director into this epic journey, meeting that other director and actors and getting a first-hand account of the makings of Lord of the Rings. But it didn't quite work out that way.
It is indeed a journey, a bumpy road full of unexpected twists and turns. But the authors (it was co-written by Joe Layden, who'd also written ""The Rock says...") didn't get it quite right. The problem is that a reader may expect indeed a book about the filming of this epic and Sean Astin's role in it or view about it. Instead it has become an (auto)biography of Astin, with Lord of the Rings as background. And that's too much. I think Astin is a gifted director, and his role of Samwise Gamgee in the movies is admirable. But just when you think that you''re packed to enjoy this bumpy ride the author is digressing. A lot. It is really annoying that he can't get a straight story out of it. Time and again we're thrown back to Astin's other endeavours as actor or director, following out-of-sync roads to other journeys including the path of self-realization, marred by a tone of whining and moaning about the bad things in his life.
This I could bear if the author(s) had stuck to the idea of a book about the life and times of Astin, but now it is sold on the bandwagon that is called "Lord of the Rings", and that doesn't sound right. I've the feeling that Astin, a director in his own right, never has gotten beyond that part.
Astin has the right to write from his point of view as director-actor. But pride of place should have been Lord of the Rings. Not the other way around, for then you're onto a circular road, narrower than the Ring ever has been.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of the 'inside' of life as an actor
I really enjoyed this book. Having read other feedback I didn't approach it solely as a behind the scenes LOTR story, though when Sean finally got to that bit it was fascinating... Read more
Published 7 days ago by GailT
3.0 out of 5 stars There but not back again
If you love the Ring's and the films, forget this book. You have to read 200 pages before he mentions the rings. Read more
Published on 3 April 2011 by blitzbob
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I loved Sean Astin's performance in The Lord of the Rings and was really looking forward to reading this book but I should have read other peoples reviews before ordering it. Read more
Published on 7 Feb 2011 by Lucy Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight and well worth the read
This book has sat on my bookshelf for around three years now after receiving it as a present.
Despite my love for Lord of the Rings, I just couldn't seem to take to Sean... Read more
Published on 10 Oct 2008 by Reviewer
1.0 out of 5 stars If your a fan of LOTR or Sean Astin.......
I wouldn't recommend you read this book! Why? let me explain. I loved Sean Astin's as Sam in the LOTR, like every other actor he gave a stellar performance and was frankly... Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2008 by T. E. Lee
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreary ramblings that I found myself skipping through
As an ardent fan of the LOTR trilogy I was really looking forward to this book. I needn't have bothered because, more than anything else, it is more about an insecure actor whining... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2008 by French Fancy
2.0 out of 5 stars Should have been called 'All About Sean: A Behind the Scenes Look at...
I was deeply disappointed by this as I was expecting to learn more about The Lord of The Rings films from someone who had been on the 'inside'. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2007 by pacem et amorem
2.0 out of 5 stars Whine and whine again
It would be churlish of me to summarize this book with the following statement: "Reading `There and Back Again' will tell you far less about the `Lord of the Rings' films than you... Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2006 by Mr. M. Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars An open and honest look into the world of Sean Astin.....
This is NOT a book solely dedicated to the subject of the making of Peter Jackson's superb movies, so be forewarned if you purchase it strightly as a Tolkien fan (as I did). Read more
Published on 10 May 2006 by muttmummy
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey
Sean Astin is best known to film geeks around the world as Sam Gamgee, the lovable gardener in "Lord of the Rings. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2006 by E. A Solinas
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