I wasn’t destined to be an astronaut

Posted on 8 January 2014


Chris Hatfield – astronaut extrodinaire

At Christmas I read a brilliant book that I highly recommend for all aspiring actors.

It’s called An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth.

Now, you might be thinking I have ‘lost it’ recommending an astronaut book for actors.

Not so.

You will learn more about how to become a successful actor from this book than from any acting-specific book I have read.

Let me explain.

Chris Hadfield, author of the book, became an astronaut against all the odds. In fact, the chances of anyone getting to fly in space as an astronaut are much slimmer than deciding to become a successful Hollywood movie actor.

In his book, Chris describes the process by which he made the impossible possible. At the start of the book he says, ‘I wasn’t destined to be an astronaut. I had to turn myself into one.’

That goes for acting too. I wasn’t born into an acting dynasty; my parents where hairdressers from Glasgow – but I, too, turned myself into an actor.

How did I do it?

The same way Chris describes in his book about becoming an astronaut.

I did the things an actor (or in Chris’s case an astronaut) would do.

Chris from a young age thought about the choices an astronaut would take. Everything – from what he ate to the things he studied and the jobs he chose later in life.

I did the same. When I decided to become an actor, I immersed myself in the world of acting. I read plays, went to the theatre, read acting books, dissected acting performances and went to acting classes. I lived and breathed it. So did Chris. This is the key to becoming anything at any age.

Chris is Canadian, and at the time when he was trying to become an astronaut, Canada didn’t have a space program. Did this stop him? No. He continued doing what he should do to become an astronaut, just in case he got the chance later in life. And he did. Canada later launched a space program.

What faith and commitment. It looked highly unlikely he would get his goal but he didn’t stop going for it.

Chris makes a brilliant point in the book about the work of an astronaut, which resonated a lot with me. Basically, he says that the cool bit about being an astronaut is flying around the world in orbit. But this is just a small part of the job. He goes on to say that If all you want to do is fly around the world, don’t become an astronaut, because much of the work is meticulous, repetitive and requires huge amounts of concentration. If you like this kind of work, then great; if not, then don’t become an astronaut.

In acting, so many people want to be in the Hollywood blockbusters. They just want the cool bit – like flying around the globe. They don’t want to do the meticulous, repetitive and concentrated hard work that goes into becoming a top actor.

Chris also describes how you need to enjoy the work in and of itself rather than thinking about flying round the world. You need to enjoy the process of training for spaceflight. The same goes for acting. To be a great actor, you need to love the process of acting training, regardless of whether you get the big blockbuster part or not.

This last point is what makes the difference between a true actor and someone who wants a bit of attention and the adulation that comes with being an actor: they love the process of acting creation.

There is much more you can learn from Chris’s book. And when you read it, think about how you can apply this to your acting career. If you do, you won’t go far wrong.

You can get Chris’s book on Amazon here:



Yes, I’m over 18 years of age