10 Best Books for Actors | Be the Best Actor You Can Be – CV Nation

10 of the Best Books for Actors

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In acting, learning from the best is paramount to your success. To achieve your goals, you need to garner advice and insight from the experts.

This is what the majority of the world’s leading actors did. Most of them continue take steps to maintain and develop their skills, even after landing huge gigs.

And, other than one-to-one lessons, reading books written by the leading voices in the acting world is one of the best ways to improve and maintain your skills.

The books on this list are packed with a wealth of valuable techniques, skills and strategic advice to help you become the best actor you can be.

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve stared in multiple movies, this list has a book that will help you grow and improve as an actor.

1. The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique by Ivana Chubbuck

Ivana Chubbuck is one of Los Angeles's most renowned acting coaches. Her list of students is a who’s who of Hollywood stars; she’s taught the likes of Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, Jim Carrey and Gerard Butler.

Her book, The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique, is essential for all actors. Chubbuck breaks down processes and techniques, step-by-step, to help you become the best actor you can be. She teaches readers about real acting, enabling them to draw on their own experiences and add truth to their performances.

Many actors read this book time and time again, gaining new insight every time they do.

Whatever stage you’re at in your acting career, The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique is an essential addition to your bookshelf.

‘This is my bible. I don’t leave home without it.’

Eva Mendes

2. An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavsky

Constantin Stanislavski was one of the most prominent theatre directors to have ever lived. Having founded the Moscow Art Theatre in the late 20th century, he went on to create the Stanislavski Method – a naturalistic performance technique that is otherwise known as method acting.

Today, his method is studied by successful actors everywhere.

Although originally published in 1936, An Actor Prepares is still one of the most relevant acting books. It’s written in a fictional prose, telling the story of a student who is learning Stanislavsky’s methods.

Through this narrative, readers can immerse themselves in Stanislavski's methods and learn valuable lessons in sundry areas of acting. These range from imagination, relaxation of muscles and adaption to the inner creative states, senses of truth and emotion memory.

All actors should read this book at least once.

3. How to Stop Acting by Harold Guskin

How to Stop Acting introduces readers to acting processes that have helped a multitude of novices and acting stars land gigs. The book’s author, Harold Guskin, was a leading acting coach who worked with the likes of Bridget Fonda, James Gandolfini, Kevin Kline and Glenn Close.

Guskin offers readers a unique approach to acting. His strategy shuns the idea that actors must ‘get into character’. Instead, they should be present in the moment and constantly responsive to the text.

He states: ‘If the actor can connect in a personal and instinctive way to the words his character speaks, moment by moment, at the very outset of his work, then he will begin his exploration from within the character.’

'Many actors, newcomers and veterans alike, often wonder why it's so difficult to be as real, natural, and emotionally charged on stage or in front of the camera as we are in our daily lives. Harold Guskin explains how, by habit and misconception, we tend to undermine our potential.’

Christopher Reeve

4. To the Actor by Michael Chekhov

To the Actor offers an imperative insight into the art of acting, as well as practical exercises to help you master the craft. From developing characters and drawing on emotions to managing imagination and improve awareness, the book provides readers with the tools to become better actors.

Chekhov’s techniques have been used by some of the most famous actors globally. He taught an A-list of students, such as Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood and Paula Strasberg.

The book contains various exercises, which help readers easily understand the techniques described and put them into practice.

By developing and implementing the techniques in To the Actor, you’ll be able to be able to approach acting gigs as a completely improved actor.

'To the Actor is by far the best book that I have read on the subject of acting. Actors, directors, writers and critics will be grateful for it.'

Gregory Peck

5. Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner on Acting is a very beneficial book for both novices and experienced actors.

Meisner was the brains behind the famous Meisner Technique and one of the United States’ most renowned acting teachers. Actors who have studied Meisner’s works include Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and James Franco.

Sanford Meisner on Acting covers multiple acting processes, from introductory exercises to advanced techniques, which help actors improve their performances and ‘live truthfully under imaginary circumstances’.

6. Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen by Paul Meier

Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen is recognised as the industry standard for accents and dialects. In this book, author Paul Meier offers concise instruction in the use of 24 accents and dialects for actors.

While the book is long at 370 pages, with 12 additional CDs, it’s very easy to follow.

When it comes to accents and dialects, Paul Meier is one of the best teachers out there. He heads the Paul Meier Dialect Services and the International Dialects of English Archive. He’s also a professional actor, theatre director, playwright, voice-over artist and voice coach.

Accents and dialects this book covers includes: Irish, Italian, Liverpool, Afrikaans (South Africa), American Deep South, Scottish, American Southern (Mid-South), South Boston, Australian, New York, Cockney, Downeast New England, French, Northern Ireland, General American, German, Hampshire, Indian, Russian, Spanish (Castilian & Colonial), Standard British English (Received Pronunciation) and Yorkshire.

This book is highly beneficial for both beginners and experienced actors.

7. Audition by Michael Shurtleff

Audition is labelled as ‘everything an actor needs to know to get the part’.

That’s a reasonable description of this book. It focuses on 12 guideposts for actors, which encompasses style, pace, over-acting, drama, musical theatre, comedy, risks, self-rescue, seduction, distraction, and eye contact.

Michael Shurtleff was the casting director for Chicago, The Graduate, The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar. As you can imagine, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to auditions.

If you’re an aspiring actor trying to break into the industry, Audition contains everything you need to know to land the role.

8. The Warner Loughlin Technique by Warner Loughlin

The Warner Loughlin Technique by Warner Loughlin is an acting book that breaks the mould.

Loughlin tells readers everything they need to know to build characters and express deep emotions. And she teaches them to do this in a psychologically healthy way, debunking the myth of the tortured actor.

The is summed up in the book’s opening line: ‘Where is it written than in order to be a gifted actor, you must be filled with rage or pain or strife?’

If you want to release your creativity and deliver amazing performances in a healthy way, this is the book for you. It’s been utilised by numerous A-list stars and it’s got a rating of over 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

’I've been working with Warner Loughlin for years. Not only has she helped me become a better actor, but she's also helped me truly enjoy this work in ways I never imagined.’

Ryan Reynolds

9. Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen

Respect for Acting is a guide to acting that offers advice, instructions and examples to help actors master the art. The book is used in many acting classes and is globally recognised as one of the best books of its kind.

Respect for Acting consists of three parts. These are The Actor, The Object Exercises, and The Play and the Role. These parts combine to provide the reader with the tools they need to excel. Hagen shows readers how to build three dimensional characters and take them beyond scripts.

Hagen served as an acting teacher at the Herbert Berghof Studio acting studio in New York. She taught various famous actors, including Gene Wilder, Robert DeNiro and Matthew Broderick.

Respect for Acting is a great book for actors who want to improve their skills and learn from one of the best acting teachers.

10. No Acting Please by Eric Morris

No Acting Please consists of 125 acting exercises. These exercises are designed to help actors remove obstacles, such as fear and tension, and achieve the state of ‘being’.

As well as exercises to help readers improve their acting techniques, No Acting Please also offers assistance with avoiding common pitfalls.

Whatever level of acting you’re at, No Acting Please is a vital tool that will help you sharpen your skills.

'When I read No Acting Please, it put it all together for me.'

Johnny Depp

Hopefully you’ve found this guide helpful in choosing the best books to improve your acting skills and develop your career.

When you’re pursuing acting gigs, make sure you’re equipped with a professional, polished resume. Check out our 5 actor resume templates that you can use now to improve your search for roles.

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