ARE YOU ANYBODY?

Book Cover

Debut memoir from the acclaimed
screen and stage actor.

For the first part of his career,
Tambor (b. 1944) was “the guy from,” as people would recognize him from one of
his TV roles—e.g., the Larry Sanders Show
or Max Headroom—but not necessarily know
who he was. Those experiences provide the title for this book, part personal
history and part meditation on his craft. The author writes that when he was a
child, his grandparents bought him a bow tie, and he felt special wearing it.
People would notice him, and it boosted his confidence. That’s what acting
became for him. The author tells wonderful tales of hiding out in a college
theater near his childhood home in San Francisco, watching a troupe rehearse. The
experience served as an epiphany, and he began acting as soon as he could. Acting
helped him escape from a mother who had suddenly turned cold, from a father who
believed that any kind of celebration would draw unwanted attention, and from
the “otherness” of growing up Jewish. The narrative is not strictly
chronological, as the author organizes it more thematically. He admits his
personal quirks, including his insistence on drinking cold coffee and reading
for 30 minutes every morning. He has also watched friends and family die and
his marriage dissolve because of his devotion to his craft, and he made it
through a flirtation with Scientology that threatened to destroy him. Later in
his career, he found professional success in projects like Arrested
Development
 and Transparent, for which he has won two Emmy
Awards and a Golden Globe. Tambor vacillates between student and teacher,
passing on his knowledge and continuing to learn. Aspiring actors should pay
particular attention to his advice. He advocates for people to speak up for
themselves, even if it costs them, and to support others and surround
themselves with people who will lift them up.

Sure, parts of the book are
schmaltzy, but that doesn’t make the author’s advice, or his story, any less
compelling.

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