For Sean Astin, the call from his agent about the role of Samwise Gamgee couldn't have come at a better time. His career was at a low point and choice roles were hard to come by. But his 18-month experience in New Zealand with director Peter Jackson and the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings films would be more than simply a dream come true, it would prove to be the challenge of a lifetime.
Though much has been written about the making of the films, the real story of what took place on the set, the harrowing ordeals of the actors and the unspoken controversy and backstage dealings have never been told. More than a companion guide to the Rings films, There and Back Again is filled with stories from the set and of the actors involved that have never before been revealed; an eye-opening look at the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the making of one of the most ambitious films of all time.
©2004 Sean Astin; (P)2004 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Pulishers, LLC
"The book succeeds as a brutally frank, hard-hitting portrait of the film business. Astin shoots from the hip, frequently offending people with his contentious viewpoints....Astin comes across as a complex personality, courageous, impulsive, loving, abrasive, and these contradictory qualities make him an arresting centerpiece for a Hollywood story." (Publishers Weekly)
Although the story was ok, it was very much look at all the people i know. I have read many books from actors but i don't think i will listen to this one again.
This is pretty OK, but Sean is very noticeably American, which means there is a lot of 'special moment', 'like a family', 'so in awe of', 'honoring each and every blabla' etc. He does seem to focus on awards a lot as well. Overall there are a few nice tidbits, and it's pretty well ok. I'd give 2,5 stars instead of 3, but oh well.
"A fantastic listen!!"
My wife found this one for me since she knows I'm such a LOTR fan. It was a nice supprise since I had no idea the guy even wrote a book. We listened to it on a road trip and I was immediately swept up in the narritive. I found Seans story to be absolutely facinating!! If you loved the movies and particulary if you loved Sam you will really enjoy this book. Seans humility, honesty and openeness about his experiences in making the movies go far beyond what I expected to find. I finished it in two sittings. Bravo Sean!! Great book!!!
"Borrow it from the Library"
As a tremendous fan of the books for the past 17 years, and the movies since they came out, I was very excited to see this book. I've been fascinated by all of the stories related on the DVDs about the making of the films and the rapport between the cast (and crew), and was hoping for more of the same from "There and Back Again".
As it turns out, this book is not about the making of the Lord of the Rings...it's about Sean Astin. It's about his life story, and his trials and triumphs throughout his career and during the making of these movies. Unfortunately, Sean Astin has a tendency to sometimes come across as a bit whiny and self-centered. I got the impression that he is a rather high-maintenance sort of person, who likes to think of himself as low-maintenance and easy going. A lot of this tendency would be toned down by closer editing, especially of the material that is not related to the Lord of the Rings (given that the book is marketed as a "making of" story).
That said, I did gain additional perspective on the movie experience and the personalities involved, as well as insight into the experience of growing up in a show-biz family. I'm glad I read the book, but I wish I'd bought it in paperback (or borrowed it from the library!) instead of paying for the hardcover.
"Too self-focused for my taste"
This book is primarily about the author's/actor's internal experiences in his industry - his fears, insecurities, regrets and so on. While I can appreciate his honesty, I didn't feel a need to know that much about his internal world and sometimes found myself thinking, "Get over it, Sean - we all have to deal with that kind of thing." It seemed very repetitious. I had hoped he would spend most of the time on anecdotes and events in the filming of the trilogy. There is a little of the latter - for example, retelling how the "nine" got their tattoos - but overall this LOTR fan found it a mediocre book.
"Self-indulgent, but worth a listen"
I bought this audiobook despite the accurate reviews pegging it as a major dose of self-indulgent whining on Sean Astin's part about his career, his doubts about his talent, etc. I enjoyed the book for the most part, and was intrigued about the "behind the scenes" tales from the making of LOTR, of which I'm a fan. That makes this book worth listening to. But there's a difference between being honest and being disarming, and for my tastes Sean carried his plague of self-doubt to an extreme level. I would have liked more LOTR stories, and even more "the making of" stuff from his Rudy & Goonies days...and less about his own take about his performances - one minute he thinks he can't pull off a character, the next he's upset he didn't win an Oscar. It has enough good material, though, to make it worth your while.
"A Journey of Personal Growth"
"There and Back Again" is not about LOTR. It's the story of how one of the movie's contributors grew and changed as a result of being involved in such an enormous and amazing enterprise. LOTR fans who want more about the inside scoop on the movie will be disappointed. Those who enjoy getting an intimate peek inside the process of personal growth will enjoy the book, which is read by the author/actor.
Astin is incredibly honest about his frailties, and admits to his insecurities, fears, self-doubts and occasional jealousies. He also shows how he learned to put aside his personal ambitions in service of something he saw as a larger cause. This is an engaging and often funny book, and an interesting tale of how a fiercely individualistic person became a willing team player.
Disappointing. Although Astin provides some insight into the backstory of the movies, he spends a good deal of time whining.
"A Fascinating Journey"
Sean Astin's book is a small anecdote in the vast array of historical Tolkein literature. At the same time, it's an important story about the making of an epic trilogy that broke records and won many deserved honors.
Astin's role could have been a minor one, but through talent and the typical insecurity possessed by many great actors, he made for himself an important place in the series.
If you'd seen each other the movies in this series, you will know that the character of Sam, as played by Astin, becomes a pivot point for each of the films. In Fellowship, Sam refuses to allow Frodo to go it alone, thus injecting hope at a crucial moment. In the Two Towers, Sam inspires Frodo to carry on despite all the pain and hardship, and simultaneously convinces Faramir to set them free. In Return, Sam literally carries Frodo to the completion of the quest.
Astin performs beautifully in this role and thus has become part of Tolkein lore himself in some ways. This is the heart of Astins story and if you enjoy memoirs or are a Tolkein fan, you'll enjoy this book.
"Sean Astin is grounded."
I believed Sean Astins performance as a reader and as an actor was and is teriffic! I became concerned for Sean as the book went on. Mr. Astin seems to have huge issues with his self esteem, and it comes out in this reading. Based on the comments Mr. Astin makes throughout the book, he doesn't realize how great he is as an actor. Mr. Astin, you are good enough, smart enough, and darn'it, people like you!
"Wow!! Who knew Sean Astin could write?!?"
I don't listen to many bios and memoirs but this one was great. Sean has a degree in History and Literature, he's not just a teen actor. I thoroughly enjoyed his story, it is surprisingly well written and I was glad he narrated it too. It is a must for any Lord of the Rings fan but even if you aren't it's still a very interesting and entertaining book.
Very rarely to you read an "inside the movie business" book that is this honest--Astin tells you facts about "The Lord of the Rings" movies that you never thought you would find out--how much he was paid, how he got the part, who he got along with on the set. Some of the revelations are so truthful that you almost wish he had protected himself a bit more--but that is exactly what makes the book great. He really lets it rip with all that actor angst--is my part big enough, are people respecting me, do people like me? Not since William Shatners's wonderful "Star Trek Memories" books has an actor given you such an honest look at the movie making process. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
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