December 15, 1986 12:00 PM

by Susan Shacter and Don Shewey

Actors, fans of acting and people watchers in general will find much to be fascinated by in this book. It includes interviews with 54 New York actors, including such names as Jeff Daniels, William Hurt and Roy Scheider. Shewey, a free-lance writer, conducted the interviews and edited them sensibly, though some are far too brief. Shacter, a portrait and fashion photographer, added black-and-white studies of the men; she gets something out of even the most calculated posture. (The authors plan a similar book on women.) The actors talk revealingly about their profession. Christopher Reeve says, “You can make a lot of money just looking good—that’s the Robert Redford story, I think. He has a lot more talent than he lets you know about, and he never plays anyone unsympathetic. He’s decided to be the fair-haired boy. I’m bored by that.” James Woods complains, “One of the great tragedies of your life when you’re working is that you don’t have time to read PEOPLE magazine. People don’t realize you need to have a day when you’re sittin’ around in a robe readin’ PEOPLE and saying, ‘God, Joan Collins looks terrible these days!’ ” Gregory Hines talks about begging for the “Sandman” role in The Cotton Club; then-director Robert Evans replied, “I’ve offered it to Richard Pryor, and if he wants it, he’s the man. I can get another 7 to 10 million dollars of financing with his name. With you, I can get maybe $1,500.” David Rasche, who has been in such films as Cobra and Best Defense, offers a wonderful description of waiting for the opening curtain of a play: “There’s a moment when the audience is quiet, and the actors are quiet, and everybody’s waiting for the secret. We’re going to show them the secret—they gave us $40, right? It’s time…the lights go down, then there’s this sound, whhhhhhh. The curtain goes up, the lights go on, and something begins.” (New American Library, $22.95)

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