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.