"He worked with De Mille, Korda, Hitchcock, Renoir, Guthrie, Lean, and Wilder. He collaborated with Brecht and Losey on the first production of Galileo. His career spanned fifty films and forty stage roles. And his Hunchback, Henry VIII, and Captain Bligh remain the stock-in-trade of countless mimics. No previous account of the difficult, ugly, magnetic genius of Charles Laughton has approached the depth and quality of Simon Callow's magnificent biography, which spans the actor's early years in England at his parents' seaside hotel, through the West End, Hollywood, and Broadway, to his final climactic assumption of the role of Lear at Stratford. As a fellow actor, Callow is able to recreate each of Laughton's performances, however eccentric or mundane, with complete understanding. Callow's empathy with Laughton embraces both his professional struggles and his lifelong battle to come to terms with his homosexuality and his thirty-year marriage to Elsa Lanchester. Writing with wit and passion, Callow packs the book with the fascinating fruits of his research--conversations with surviving friends and lovers, contemporary articles and reviews, and illuminating assessments of Laughton's craft based on the study of every extant foot of film. Callow gets right inside the skin of Laughton and shows us the truth behind this legend in his own lifetime who nonetheless counted himself a failure."--Dust jacket.