Actor Anthony James has played killers, psychopaths, and other twisted characters throughout his Hollywood career. In the summer of 1967, James made his motion picture debut as the murderer in the Academy Award-winning Best Picture,In the Heat of the Night. His role in the 1992 Academy Award-winning Best Picture,Unforgiven, culminated a unique, twenty-eight year career. Behind his menacing and memorable face, however, is a thoughtful, gentle man, one who muses deeply on the nature of art and creativity and on the family ties that have sustained him.
James'sActing My Facerenders Hollywood through the eyes and experience of an established character actor. James appeared on screen with such legendary stars as Clint Eastwood, Bette Davis, Gene Hackman, and Sidney Poitier, and in such classic television shows asGunsmoke, The Big Valley, Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels,andThe A-Team. Yet, it is his mother's heroic story that captures his imagination. In an odyssey which in 1940 took her and her newly wedded husband from Greece to a small southern town in America where she bore her only child, James's mother suffered the early death of her husband when James was only eight years old. In the blink of an eye, she went from grand hostess of her husband's lavish parties to hotel maid. But like the lioness she was, she fought with great ferocity and outrageous will in her relentless devotion to James's future. And so it was, that on an August morning in 1960, eighteen-year-old James and his mother took a train from South Carolina three thousand miles to Hollywood, California, to realize his dream of an acting career. They possessed only two hundred dollars, their courage, and an astonishing degree of naiveté.
After his retirement in 1994, James and his mother moved to Arlington, Massachusetts, where he concentrated on his painting and poetry. His mother died in 2008 at the age of ninety-four, still a lioness protecting her beloved son.Acting My Faceis an unusual memoir, one that explores the true nature of a working life in Hollywood and how aspirations and personal devotion are forged into a career.
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