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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There and back again
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...
Published on 28 Dec. 2005 by EA Solinas

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Must-have for fans but whiny and self-indulgent
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...
Published on 3 Oct. 2004 by I. D. Smith


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5.0 out of 5 stars There and back again, 16 July 2014
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 for a resident of the Shire. So the voice coach gave the California man lessons in a Gloucestershire accent.

New Zealand must have been the trip of a lifetime. However it was an extended period on location and many actors had left families at home.
We get a lot of inside looks at the filming and tedium of makeup etc. Towards the end we can see that Sean is disappointed that not one actor from the films got an Oscar nomination, but the series got plenty of awards, kept for the final film.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much more to add..., 19 Jan. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings (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"."
Perfect! I wouldn't condemn the book quite as harshly as others have, but the above sums it up perfectly. Hopefully someone will publish the definitive "Making Of" the LOTR trilogy one day, but this isn't it - don't be fooled by the title, this is Sean Astin's autobiography, and you'll read almost as much about his previous films (pop quiz, how many can you actually name?!) as the LOTR films. Maybe the marketing department would care to rethink things before the paperback version is published?!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whine and whine again, 28 Oct. 2006
By 
Mr. M. Hill "friskdesign" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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 want and far more about Sean Astin than you need." But it seems apt having spent the last couple of weeks reading this grumpy memoir.

Let's be clear: this book isn't for fans of the film at all - it is a vehicle for Astin to muse about his life as an actor. My first point against the publishers would therefore be the misleading tagline the book receives: "An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings". There is barely half the book devoted to specifically LOTR material and it's hugely disappointing. I should have smelled a rat early on when Astin admits to not having ever heard of Tolkien when he was offered the part.

I was disappointed over the lack of LOTR insights, but I at least expected the rest of the book to be an entertaining view of Astin's acting life. Sadly this isn't the case: Astin is a whiner. Barely a page goes by without him complaining about some aspect of his career, whether it be critical indifference to his performances, his monetary worth, or the chip on his shoulder about never having really made the `big time' as he puts it (until LOTR at least).

It's clear from musings about his early career that Astin suffers from low self-esteem, self-doubt and crushing under confidence in his own abilities. This of course is nothing new for many actors. He badly wants the recognition of his peers and seems desperate for it even when it's negative. Yet bizarrely his writing becomes inconsistent when he later shows extreme over-confidence in his `heroic' portrayal of Sam or his annoyance that he couldn't influence the production of LOTR more. At one point he remarks how Christopher Lee was crestfallen when Saruman was entirely cut from the third film: "sometimes brutal decisions have to made", yet when his own scenes were lightly trimmed he throws a fit and screams to his wife "They've ruined it!" It's this inconsistency that makes the book a confusing and annoying read.

There is a degree of honesty about the problems Astin has faced and his descriptions of how he dealt with these issues. He has written erudite reasoning for his behaviour and many pages are devoted to analyzing himself and then trying to improve: a commendable trait and one that could be respected if you could believe it. But Astin has had far too long to think this stuff through and the cynic in me believes that his `self-improvement' thoughts were not experienced at the time as written, but only while he was actually writing his book several years later.

Beyond Astin's self-confessed propensity for melodrama and a lot of personal background that I really didn't want to know, his writing style is a mess. The book constantly jumps around between anecdotes of his early career right in the middle of an account of something on the LOTR set. It's jarring, annoying and doesn't respect the reader. When we finally do get some interesting information about the film production, it's usually focused on some aspect that Astin wasn't happy with.

It's not all bad. Some of the anecdotes are almost amusing and I do think the friendships he describes with Elijah Wood and Christopher Lee were genuine as far as Astin saw them, but again the cynic can't help but notice that the only people Astin seems to respect are those who are `successful' in the movies - he doesn't seem to ever hang around anyone in the industry `lesser' than him.

I didn't enjoy this book. I found the whole experience tiring and reading should be anything but tiring. I learnt little about the LOTR films (the main reason I bought it) and more about Astin than I care to know. I finished it feeling that although Astin is a decent actor with some good work behind him, he simply cannot get over himself long enough to recognize his accomplishments and enjoy them.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreary ramblings that I found myself skipping through, 6 Feb. 2008
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 and moaning his way through the story of his time on the film, a film that he thought he was grossly underpaid for, never mind the fact that it made him quite well-known.

Poor old Peter Jackson having such an ungrateful and negative actor around for so long. I bet he never invites SA to be in another film that he directs.

What comes through the most is just how jealous of other actors' 'coolness' he is, how he would have directed things differently to PJ, etc etc. There were chunks that I just skipped and it could have been edited to 100 pages less.

Don't bother.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sean Astin's book, 14 Dec. 2004
This review is from: There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings (Hardcover)
Firstly, i wana say that Sean is a great actor and portrayed Sawise Gamgee really well, but the book was horrid. i struggled through it, ended up lending it out before i finished it, and was more interested in the photos then the content. He came across as arrogant and self obsessed person and was extremely disappointed that there was no mention of the promised behind the scenes of lord of the rings until half way through. And then he went on to bag the other cast members including Director Peter Jackson.he then whined and whined and whined about his character. He shouldnt have used The Lord of The Rings fame as a selling gimic for his autobiography. Very Disappointed and surely wont be reading it again
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2.0 out of 5 stars I was kind of disappointed in the fact that there were pages missing from ..., 2 Sept. 2014
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While the book was ok....I was kind of disappointed in the fact that there were pages missing from it....it would skip from one page to a completely different page and if you looked at it it was like a whole page both sides had not been printed and it happened a couple of times so it took some of the fun and consistancy out of reading it.....glad I got it but not one I would read again.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 14 Dec. 2004
By 
Pierre Camilleri "pierrecamilleri2" (Balzan, Malta (EU)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings (Hardcover)
Only from Chapter 8 did he start talking of his experiences on the LOTR set. Very disappointing!! There was too much whineing in my opinion and most of the behind the scenes stuff we already knew anyway. The title is very misleading in my strongest opinion!
Verdict: Not recommended!
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So bad it's brilliant, 29 July 2005
By 
Captain EO "No. 7" (Cardiff, Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings (Hardcover)
This has to be the only book I've ever read that I needed to think long and hard about regarding whether to award it 1* or 5*. Eventually I plumped for 1* because I guess the majority of people taking notice of reviews are interested to hear an opinion on how good the product is. With that in mind, this book, as an in-depth, Behind-the-Scenes story of The Lord of the Rings is abysmal. However, as a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an insecure, self-obsessed "actor" - it's hugely entertaining.
Other reviews on this site have already declared how this is all about Sean Astin and not The Lord of the Rings. VERY true. In fairness, how many people would have bought Sean Astin's Autobiography ? Aside from his parents(who are apparently very famous) I'd guess no-one. But anyway, as a public the book companies have fooled us into spending good money and we've been fiddled. Don't dispair.
This really is a superb read. It's unintentionally hilarious and reading between the lines you can tell that the vast majority of people involved with making these films got on brilliantly whilst our friend Mr Astin is obviously bothered by absolutely everything from his portly shape to the fact that he's not exactly regarded an A-List Actor. Let's not even go into his Directing career.
You can't help but get the feeling that guys like Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, etc probably had a good laugh about Frodo's best friend and his vast array of insecurities whilst they were out creating a strong cast spirit and Mr Astin was locked away being the "perfect" husband and Dad. I'm sure if any of the other main characters wrote an account about their time with Peter Jackson & Co. you'd get a VERY different a book from Sean's.
I'm sure you get the picture so if you fancy a good laugh with a sprinkling of The Lord of the Rings thrown in - pick this up. If you want a balanced account of life on the movies - watch the documentaries on the DVD Box Sets
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The title of this book is a little misleading, 9 Oct. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale - A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lord of the Rings (Hardcover)
I thought this book was going to be all about life on the set of Lord of the Rings and include stories about the friendships formed.
I was disappointed. The first seven or so chapters are all about Sean Astin's early life, movie choices, his desire to direct movies and his preoccupation with money.
Once he does start to talk about Lord of the Rings, he focuses more on his own thoughts and feelings at the time. He talks candidly about his hang-ups and things about which he felt disappointed or hurt. He mentions Elijah Wood semi-frequently but there is scant mention of his other fellow hobbits. The stories told have all been given prior mention in interviews and the reader gets the feeling that he was somewhat on the fringe of the younger cast camaderie.
He speaks highly of Peter Jackson but seems to have had issues with the direction of the movie and footage used at times. The book contains some nice never-before-seen photos. Unless you are a diehard Sean Astin fan, I would not recommend this book. I was compeled to keep reading it, but it left me feeling that Samwise Gamgee is a much more likable character than Sean Astin.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight and well worth the read, 10 Oct. 2008
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 Astin, possibly because of the DVD commentaries, but for whatever reason, I couldn't.
However, I recently decided to give the book a chance and was not expecting a great deal, possibly to not even finish it.
But, I found myself enjoying it from the start and difficult to put down. My initial thoughts on Astin as coming across as self-important appear to be correct after reading the book. BUT, I found the fact that he was refreshingly honest and self-depracating throughout the book, made it for me.
Other reviews have noted how much he 'whines' and 'moans' but many of his thoughts are one's that we all go through on a regular basis about 'life not being fair.' Although many of us are not capable of admitting that, even at a later date.
It gave me an interesting insight into the world of movies and also Lord of the Rings, without spoiling the movie for me, in fact it has made me want to watch it again.
It is a valid point from another reviewer that he does seem obsessed with respect from more renowned actors than himself and rarely seems to mention lesser known people. I guess that is a by-product from being a child-star.
In summary, I thought it was brave of Astin to admit and reveal his weaknesses of thought (he had no need to!). I feel a lot more respect for him after having read the book and am very pleased I did so.
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