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There and Back Again : An Actor"s Tale. Paperback – 2004
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A must-have book for all fans of Lord of the Rings from Sean Astin who plays the loyal and reliable Samwise Gamgee.
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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.
But the "Rings" shoot is pretty fascinating, especially since Astin was right in the middle of it. He gives us a better idea of what his costars were like (Viggo Mortensen likes to "blow through a party handing everybody a copy of three different books that he's read, and then move on"), and how they felt about him. One particularly interesting part is Astin describing the time ex-Aragorn Stuart Townsend spent on the set, and the reasons why Townsend didn't work out in the role.
Astin frank and candid, doesn't whitewash the truth, but also seems quite generous with his costars. Sometimes he comes across as a bit whiny and know-it-all-ish, but he's also the first one to admit it. Everyone has their arrogant moments, but Astin is brave enough to bare his unflattering mistakes before the world, and say he was wrong. And his writing (with Joe Layden as coauthor) is polished and literate -- not something you see in many Hollywood autobios.
Astin also includes a load of personal pics. Most of them have a very laid-back, almost intimate feel -- the hobbits and their costars hanging out, showing off their costumes, bungee jumping, or filming (including Elijah Wood covered in webbing). Not to mention ones like Billy Boyd playing with Sean's daughter, or Sean and his daughter looking over the beautiful landscape of New Zealand.
Sean Astin gives readers a glimpse of his life and work in "There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale." It's not merely for fans of "Lord of the Rings," but also for fans of Astin and the moviemaking experience.
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Despite my love for Lord of the Rings, I just couldn't seem to take to Sean...Read more