How to Stop Acting

Harold Guskin; Introduction by Kevin Kline

Faber & Faber



Trade Paperback

208 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
In How to Stop Acting, Harold Guskin reveals the insights and techniques that have worked wonders for the dozens of stage and screen actors he has coached, beginners and stars alike. Instead of yet another "method," Guskind offers a strategy based on a radically simple and refreshing idea: that the actor's work is not to "create a character" but rather to be continually, personally responsive to the text, wherever his impulse takes him, from first read-through to final performance. Drawing examples from his clients' work and his own, Guskin presents acting as a constantly evolving exploration rather than as a progression toward a fixed goal. He offers sound and original advice on auditioning, developing a role and keeping it fresh, adapting to the demands of film and television, playing difficult emotional scenes, tackling the Shakespearean and other great roles, and more.


Praise for How to Stop Acting

"Ask an actor who the coach of the moment is, and no matter whose name comes up as well, Guskin’s is mentioned three times out of four."—The Village Voice

"This book is great! Thank God I met Harold, so I could stop acting and start being the character."—Peter Fonda

"Reading through these pages, I realize not only how much I learned from Harold, but also how safe he made me feel. Harold created a place filled with a trust that ultimately freed me to find my wings, one role at a time. This book will be invaluable for anyone learning the craft of acting and for those of us who need to be reminded of the basics of the craft we have dedicated our lives to."—Glenn Close

"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. How to Stop Acting is a clear and concise actor's guide to living the truth in our work."—Christopher Reeve

"Harold gives a very sane point of view to a very insane business and a very insane craft. Sometimes, when I read a script, I’m tempted to put on seven different wigs and change everything and knock my head against the wall twenty times before I know what I’m doing. Then I come to Harold, and I realize it’s a lot simpler than that."—James Gandolfini

"No, this isn't a guide to helping introverts learn how to loosen up and be themselves. Rather, it's a new perspective on auditioning for theater. 'Acting doctor' Guskin, who's worked with Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, James Gandolfini, Steve Martin, and others, explains his strategy, which, at its core, states that actors do not have a responsibility to create characters, but to be continually responsive to their lines, wherever their inclinations take them. It's an honest, non-gimmicky take on a perennial problem. With specific anecdotes (e.g., 'Peter Fonda came to me in 1993; he wanted to rethink his acting') and concrete advice (e.g., 'take it slow' and 'let the script guide the research'), Guskin covers various acting scenarios, from the stage (including Shakespeare) to film and television. He imparts much wisdom, yet counsels, 'discover what makes you tick as an actor. Use what works and discard whatever gets in the way, no matter how sound the concept.'"—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

How to Stop Acting
1TAKING IT OFF THE PAGE"I'm basically a shy person, and I can get as shy in front of a character that I have been hired to inhabit as I can in front of an actual breathing human being. A lot of what we worked on when we first got together was getting through my shyness in relationship to the character whose words had to come out of my mouth." 
--Glenn Close 
Actors come to me for all sorts of reasons, at every stage of their careers. Matt Dillon came to me for the first time with a stack of research he'd done for his
Read the full excerpt


  • Harold Guskin; Introduction by Kevin Kline

  • Harold Guskin has worked with dozens of stage and screen actors and is himself an actor and director. He lives in New York City with his wife, the playwright and screenwriter Sandra Jennings.