Playing Under the Piano: From Downton to Darkest Peru

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Readers familiar with Lord Crawley, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey, may not know the range of roles that Hugh Bonneville has played in British theater, film, and television. In this witty and revealing memoir, he manages to recount anecdotes without name-dropping, and yet many of the names will resonate: Branagh, Imrie, Stevenson, Gambon…

Theater lovers and film buffs will find much to enjoy within these pages, and that’s not even considering his starring role in Paddington! As he says, “This isn’t a manual or a map [to acting], it’s a series of snapshots I’ve taken along the way.” And what a series of snapshots he gives us.

From Dame Judi Dench dropping a salacious note in the lap of the wrong man to Bonneville’s starstruck meetings with Julia Roberts (in Notting Hill) and Raquel Welch, to learning that his own mother worked for MI6, he has a lifetime of stories to tell. Among them are, of course, many auditions that came to naught, series that were never filmed or, if filmed, never aired. Such is the life of a working actor, not a star.

But, Downton Abbey fans, take heart: although he doesn’t devote many pages to the series or two subsequent films, he shares enough tales about the actors and peeks behind the scenes to satisfy.

Bonneville has a way with words, describing Judi Dench’s voice as “cracked honey,” for instance and I appreciated learning more about the real lives of actors such as Mr. Bonneville, whether they achieved fame or not.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Other Press
Publish Date 08-Nov-2022
ISBN 9781635423426 Buy this Book
Issue November 2022
Category Biographies & Memoirs