Select one of the keywords
In Character: Actors Acting    by Howard Schatz order for
In Character
by Howard Schatz
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Character: Actors Acting is one of these coffee table books that immediately intrigues - the range of expressions on the well known faces on the cover hooks the reader on trying to match emotion with intention for each of the incredibly varied images inside. But the book also gives its famous faces voices to speak (in quotes, and Actors' Notes at the end of each section) about their craft and what it means to them, adding depth of interest to the instant gratification of getting the feelings projected in the images.

We are told at the beginning that 'Each actor was given a direction, a character to play, a scene, and, at times, even dialogue. Photographs were made as each actor creatively developed the part.' The pictures certainly show why these actors deserve their fame and fortune! Roger Ebert says of the book in his Foreword, 'It is not just actors "making faces," but actors extending themselves into imaginary situations as if, for a moment, they are real.' Comparing different media, he tells us that the camera looks into actors' 'eyes and souls and shows us not only what they can control of their presentation, but, crucially, what they cannot.'

Players pose in front of the camera in eight Acts, separated by Intermissions, each a two-page spread presenting an emotion - Comedy, Fear, Over-the-Top, Suspicion, Anger, Flirtation, and Tragedy. Peter Falk takes on roles as a grandfather with his grandchild, then a homicide detective with a suspect. Michael Lerner and Alan Cumming play four-year-olds, while George Segal portrays a woman giving birth! Michael York, who does a demented elderly woman surprisingly well, says 'The great thing about this job is that there's no cutoff point - as your age changes, so your range increases.' Ellen Burstyn calls the connection between actor and live audience communion. Martin Landau says 'How a character hides his feelings tells us who he is.'

Biographies of the actors shown are included at the back of this stunning book, which will be of great interest to both fans and acting professionals. Though I enjoyed these new and varied close-ups of many actors who have impressed on stage and screen, what I liked most about In Character is that it reveals the extraordinary range of communication of which the human visage is capable.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews