The Best Books for Aspiring Actors

The Best Books for Aspiring Actors

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  1. Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen.
  2. An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski.
  3. Acting as a Business: Strategies for Success by Brian O'Nei.
  4. Audition by Michael Shurtleff.
  5. Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin.
  6. The Intent to Live by Larry Moss.
  7. On the Technique of Acting by Michael Chekov.

It almost seems like acting is done on impulse. A natural talent that you either have or don't. Yet, this isn't the case. A wide range of actors you know, respect, and love today didn't depend solely on natural talent. Most of them recognized the need to learn from past and present professionals in the field.

If you are truly passionate about the general art of acting, you should open your mind to learning. Truly, practice helps you become a good actor, but learning + practice helps you become a great actor.

We have collated a list of some of the most experienced actors, directors, and acting coaches (both past and present) to help guide you in your acting journey.

Here are some books we recommend for aspiring actors:

Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen

Uta Hagen is widely popular and respected in the acting world for her remarkable stage performances.

In this book, Hagen teaches the reader how to get rid of stage fright, along with other tips that can help an aspiring actor perform like a seasoned one.

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The major takeaway from this book is Uta Hagen's nine questions. These questions are a guiding tool even professionals use to help them navigate the role they are playing and execute the performance perfectly — even if they've played it multiple times before.

An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski

Russian-born actor and director Constantin Stanislavski has attained legendary status not just for his outstanding movies or his wonderful products but also for the unique Stanislavski system which he employs in acting. He spent a great portion of his life acting, directing, and teaching people how to act up until his tragic passing.

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"An Actor Prepares" is an autobiography that follows the journey of Kostya, an aspiring actor, as well as his mates who learn from their teacher the proper way to act by following the Stanislav system. This book is an eye-opener to some of the unspoken laws in acting. 

Thus, it is a must-read for every passionate aspiring actor. 

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Acting as a Business: Strategies for Success by Brian O'Nei

Brian O'Neil has built a successful career as a talent agent, career coach, and manager. His lengthy experience has allowed him to amass a wealth of knowledge on acting and the business that revolves around it.

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In this book, he shares some of this knowledge to help aspiring actors pivot their careers. He lectures aspiring actors on promoting and selling themselves beyond the studio. He explains why the aspiring actor must get an agent and shares tips on how to go about it.

O'Neil regularly updates his books to keep up with the newest trends and show the to-be actors how to utilize them in the acting business.

Audition by Michael Shurtleff

Michael was one of the more popular casting directors on Broadway. He was responsible for bringing major talents such as Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Eliott Gould, and many more to the limelight.

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This experience allowed him to know the best approaches to take if you, a budding actor, want to stand out at an audition.

He shares these tips and more in this book. The advice in the book can be applied to your acting audition, job interview, presentation, etc. So, make sure to grab a copy before you go for your next casting call.

Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin

Viola Spolin was an acting coach and acting instructor. She is notable for inventing techniques that helped actors stay focused and master the art of improvisation. She invented these techniques as early as the 20th century, and her methods are still used and are completely relevant today. Thus, earning her the title of "Mother of Improvisational Theater".

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Also known as the Bible of improvisational theater, Improvisation for the Theatre by Viola touches on all aspects relating to spontaneous acting. She includes her techniques which she called Theater Games, in this book, along with teachings gathered from her experience as an acting educator.

The Intent to Live by Larry Moss

Larry Moss is a seasoned director, acting coach, and consultant with decades of experience. He studied the works of Sanford Meisner and other significant past personalities. He refines their techniques in a way that appeals to modern acting.

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In this book, he emphasizes the importance of learning and practice. He also educates the aspiring actor on seamlessly taking on tricky roles.

On the Technique of Acting by Michael Chekov

An actor, director, and author, Michael Chekov had deep ties to the theater. He was a student of Konstantin Stanisavski and was noted for his exceptional brilliance. He was mostly interested in how to access the unconscious but creative self during acting.

This book covers the techniques he explored to achieve this feat. It also includes other teachings from the great actor.

There you go! A list of some of the best books to read if you are a developing actor with the intent to grow. Remember that acting can be a lot more than standing in front of a camera; you need to also dedicate time to learning from the greats. Study their works, read their books, and master their techniques. All this will help stimulate your mind and body to become a better actor. 

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