Simon Callow

Simon Callow is an actor, director, and writer. He has appeared on the stage and in many films, including the hugely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral. Callow's books include Being an Actor; Shooting the Actor, a highly acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton; and a three volume biography of Orson Welles.

"A superbly wrought, aesthetically and psychologically acute portrait of Welles's sheer, undisciplined genius...Not since Francois Truffaut's book on Hitchcock has an arts biographer possessed such a professional and intuitive understanding of his subject." —Kirkus Reviews

News

Simon is writing the third volume of the Orson Welles biography, which will be published by Viking Press, a division of Penguin Books.


Links

Simon Callow's Website

Books

Orson Welles Volume I: The Road to Xanadu

In this first installment of his masterful biography, Simon Callow captures the chameleonic genius of Orson Welles as only an actor/director deeply rooted in the entertainment industry could. Here is Welles’s prodigious childhood; his youth in New York, with its fraught partnership with John Houseman and the groundbreaking triumph of his all-black Macbeth; the pioneering radio work that culminated in the notorious 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds; and finally, his work in Hollywood, including an authoritative account of the making of Citizen Kane. Rich in detail and insight, this is far and away the definitive look at Orson Welles—a figure even more extraordinary than the myths that have surrounded him.

(Penguin, February 1997)




Orson Welles Volume II: Hello Americans

The first volume of Simon Callow’s magisterial biography of Orson Welles was praised as a “splendidly entertaining, definitive work” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, this eagerly anticipated second volume examines the years following Citizen Kane up to the time of Macbeth, in which Welles’s Hollywood film career unraveled. In close and colorful detail, Callow offers a scrupulous analysis of the factors involved, revealing the immense and sometimes self-defeating complexities of Welles’s temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom he had to contend.

(Penguin, November 2007)




Being An Actor

 

A new edition of the classic book for actors starting their careers, with new material

Few actors have ever been more eloquent, more honest, or more entertaining about their life and their profession than Simon Callow, one of the finest actors of his time and increasingly one of the most admired writers about the theater.

Beginning with the letter to Laurence Olivier that produced his first theatrical job to his triumph as Mozart in the original production of Amadeus, Callow takes us with him on his progress through England’s rich and demanding theater: his training at London’s famed Drama Centre, his grim and glorious apprenticeship in the provincial theater, his breakthrough at the Joint Stock Company, and then success at Olivier’s National Theatre are among the way stations.

Callow provides a guide not only to the actor’s profession but also to the intricacies of his art, from unemployment—“the primeval slime from which all actors emerge and to which, inevitably, they return”—to the last night of a long run.

 

(Picador, August 2003)




Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Acclaimed actor and writer Simon Callow offers a fresh perspective on one of the greatest novelists in the English language, Charles Dickens, in this lively, colorful biography.

Dickens was one of the first true celebrity authors. Thousands of fans in Britain and America eagerly awaited each new installment of his stories and flocked to see him on his legendary speaking tours. Not only did he create an incredible cast of characters on the page, but he was also a dazzling mimic and storyteller, and he wrote, stage-managed, and acted in plays for the public. Throughout his life, from his childhood performances in pubs to his legendarily powerful reading tours, Dickens was fanatical about the stage. Callow reveals Dickens's genius on and off the page and offers a compelling insight into a life that was driven as much by performance and showmanship as by literature.

(Knopf, August 2012)