Kit Harington

Just before the final season of Game of Thrones I got to shoot Kit Harington in south London.  I had sourced a location house with lots of options, and the excellent team from Emmy Magazine had come from LA to help out.  

Kit was right in the middle of playing Austin in the West End show True West, so he rocked up sporting his character's moustache.   A very different look from the rugged Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, but a look that suited him just as much.  A modern day Tom Selleck of sorts.  That’s what I thought at least until he said, “I look like Borat” and pulled a little face to show the resemblance.  The room cracked up laughing.  No doubt he’ll get the job if anyone is looking for an actor to play Borat in a film…. Ehr….

Shot for Emmy Magazine

Joanne Froggatt

I photographed Joanne Froggatt at the National Theatre as a part of a series of Love Letters to the world, to celebrate 100 years of British Airways aviation.  The shoot was done in collaboration with the excellent team at Bridge Studio and was a part of a series of portraits of professionals and celebrities in the UK.  The shoot was a little rushed as I had to squeeze in between filming schedule, but Joanne came across as fun and easy going.  Admittedly, I have never watched an episode of “Downtown Alley” but she seems a mile away from how I imagine her to be featured there.  

Shot for Bridge Studios and BA

Bill Pullman

Bill Pullman!  Where do I start?  What a legend!!!  This shoot, an early Saturday morning, was at the rehearsal rooms of the Old Vic where Bill was to perform the lead in the play All My Sons.

We had set up lights and backdrop and soon after, Bill turned up casually, with a plastic bag in hand filled with alternative shirts.  He’s a tall guy, and the beard I had got used to after watching The Sinner was long gone.  We shook hands and started to talk.  The problem with Bill is that he’s not only very interesting but he is also very knowledgable and interested in listening to whomever he’s talking to.  This means that we ended up talking for quite a while.  The dedicated hour for the shoot had slipped my mind.  Maybe I was thinking that we were both enjoying the meet, so we’ll always be able to get some more time on the end.  However, after a long chat I asked the publicist who was there if we could have more time after the shoot, and I was reminded that there was an interview to take place straight afterwards.  (Whoops!)

Down to business!  I was well prepared and ran Bill through the different setups and finished more or less on time.  We shook hands and off he went with the journalist.  After I had packed down I left my business card in his plastic bag with a note saying ‘Thank you!’.  A little later that day I got an email from Bill suggesting to meet again, inviting me to his mango orchard in California, of which I replied that he’s welcome to come to Hackney and see my purple sprouting broccoli.  

A few weeks later, Bill comes strolling off the train in Hackney.  He stops by the house and we enjoy a croissant and coffee.  The conversations were genuine and honest.  Bill is a true legend and a people’s man.   Celebrity status with Bill is just a byline - if not an obstacle - Bill is just that interesting and honest ordinary guy who you can imagine being a good friend for life.  

I hope I will get a chance to visit Bill in California one day, or he comes knocking on my door when next in town.  Until then I know I will be seeing him again, on a screen somewhere, doing an excellent job!

Shot for Sunday Times Culture

Chris O'Dowd

The tall, slightly disheveled Chris O’Dowd has now moved from The British IT Crowd to the big screen in Hollywood. He still has one foot firmly anchored in the UK, but he permanently resides in LA. Maybe to get closer to Silicon Valley, but I personally think it’s more to hit the big time and big screens.

I shot Chris before, when he starred in the TV comedy Family Tree. That time I remembered a quiet O’Dowd and I expected the same this time. Chris came in to the studio casually carrying a man-bag. A little early he slouched down on one of the chairs and waited for my ‘Go’. I took the time to sit down and talk to Chris about the shoot we did and what’s been going on. He was a lot more chatty than I remembered. That Chris twinkle in the eye and a few snappy comments to let me know that he was ready to rumble.

Chris was fun to shoot. Ok - so he turned down a few of my suggestions saying he didn’t want to come across like another comedian, mentioning no names. But instead of leaving me hanging, desperately trying to come up with other ideas, he took it upon himself. A perfect combination of subtle humour, nice shapes and oddity. The thing about Chris is that his humour works best when he’s not doing much. Something that became clear during this shoot but also when you see him on screen. It must be a nice feeling to know that if you’re not doing well, then do less.

Shot for Sunday Times Culture

Joseph Fiennes

In terms of brothers, then I would say that Joseph Fiennes and Ralph Fiennes seem as different as can be. I have had the pleasure of photographing them both and the shoots could not be more different. This may of course only be on the surface, a projection issue towards hairy Norwegian photographers. When they share a quiet moment with a glass of cognac in front of the fireplace, then it may be a different story. The one thing they both had in common was that they are both gentlemen.

Both the shoot with Ralph and Joe were fun in their own way. With Joe I collaborated on a set of images that he could use for his own press and publicity. I sourced a venue but also had the luxury of going outside with Joe to explore Camden’s hidden arches and parks. Joe was full of life and energy, a good laugh and generous with his time and compliments. I often assess the character of my subjects by how they treat my assistant and Joe was all inclusive. A real ‘diamond geeza’ as they say in ‘ackney’!

Shot for Joseph Fiennes

Toni Collette

Toni Collette is the lead in the newest must see horror film Hereditary. If you want to wind down off the coffee and still not sleep for a few days, then this is the film you should see. I am not big on horror films because I often find them to be a little too far fetched, tacky and often bad acting. They don’t tend to trigger into my own fear. However, this sounds like a film that will scare the living ‘bejesus’ out of me. The kind of film that plays with your psyche, the unknown, the things we don’t see. This is the film I’d bring a spare pair of pants to see. It’s the kind of film where I’d check the seat before I sit if it’s the second screening of the day.

The shoot with Toni was down in a basement room at Covent Garden Hotel. A room with a little too much character to carry off a whole shoot, so a backdrop was brought out. It was the last thing on Toni’s schedule of the day before being rushed off to the Graham Norton show. It was evident that she’d had a full day already, mixed with a heavy jet lag, so I tried to keep the conversation to trivial non-sense that demanded little in return. First an acknowledgement of her being only 8 days older than me, followed by my amusement that we were both able to mimic a horse trotting by clapping and snapping our fingers. The amazement on both our parts of how similar we therefor must be was undisputed and agreed to - over a laugh…

Often when people suffer from such a schedule and jet lag it is hard to hit the note. However, between the occasional yawn, her Australian, chilled and fun way of being, came shining through… I can only hope that I will one day work with Toni when she is full of energy and fully rested - if I can keep up?

Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell wears a Californian chilled-ness like a suit. It’s the chilled, cool attitude that can only be worn by someone who has been born and grown up in the Sunny State. Dude is a name used too much, but is perfectly suited to the brilliant Sam Rockwell. I met him when he was in London promoting his new film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. The film, also starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson. If there is ever a film you could imagine the fun behind the scenes and imagine hanging out between takes, then this is surely it. With a star cast like the three actors mentioned above, and the fact that it last night just ran away with three Golden Globe awards, (Sam Rockwell receiving best supporting actor) are all indications that this is a must see film.

Shot for The Guardian G2

Sofia Coppola

One of my favourite films this Millennia was “Lost in Translation”. Not only is it a film that can quietly build up ones anticipation, but it can feel painstakingly true. In fact, I felt very much like I was a part of a very similar photoshoot as the one that was portrayed in the film the other day: “Celebrity, from a different country, possibly jet lagged, didn't want to be there and was promoting a brand of spirits”. (Those of you who want to know more will have to supply me with a few drinks one night.)

However, the director of that film, Sofia Coppola, has now come out with another film, and everybody is nodding their heads again. A departure from the silent flow of Lost in Translation but still, contains the same cinematic beauty. ‘The Beguiled’, looks to be a film that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Sofia entered the room at Claridge’s with a gentle, soft flow. Well composed and obviously used to the relentless tempo of a press junket. Her gentle and well composed nature made it hard to imagine her directing a large team needed for making a film. However, maybe it is exactly this calm and gentle approach that is the secret behind the well composed films that she makes. Whatever it is, it works on the big screen and it works on a photo shoot.

Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass

Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass - what a team! They’ve worked together to create the majority of the hugely successful Jason Bourne films. Paul Greengrass was also the director behind the very impressive film ‘Bloody Sunday’, which I have only just seen and been blown away by. Matt Damon’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention and also useless to list, as we are all aware of his talent. But in case you don’t know much about his sex life then you may want to watch this clip with Sarah Silverman, (from 2.15 minutes in if you don’t want to watch the whole thing -

I have to say both Matt and Paul came across as really nice guys. Guys that liked a bit of banter. Paul Greengrass, also allowed for the shoot to exceed the 15 minutes in a hotel room, by a couple of minutes as the PR had given the ‘wrap it up’ queue. Now, that doesn’t happen a lot!

The new Bourne film is out and I for one will be looking forward to the action packed 90 minutes of big screen entertainment.

John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah was once described by the Guardian as someone who “has secured a reputation as one of the UK’s most pioneering film-makers [whose] poetic works have grappled with race, identity and post-colonial attitudes for over three decades.” Now that’s a quote I’d have framed in on my toilet wall. (Toilets and toilet walls are after all where all awards and diplomas hang.) Akomfrah was one of the founders of the Black Audio Film Collective. A group dedicated to issues around Black identity in Britain. Akomfrah later co-founded Black Dog Films and has been the governor for British Film Institute and Film London. His work has won awards and he has been instrumental in giving black identity a voice in Britain through film and art. His work can now be seen at the Lisson Gallery in London.

I met up with a ‘slightly under the weather’ Akomfrah at Black Dog Films’ offices in Hackney where he was finalising his latest work for exhibition. His most recent work is ‘the sublime seas’. “Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources and newly shot footage, Akomfrah’s piece focuses on the disorder and cruelty of the whaling industry and juxtaposes it with scenes of many generations of migrants making epic crossings of the ocean for a better life. Shot on the island of Skye, the Faroe Islands and the Northern regions of Norway.” That’s a lot of time hanging out up North - no wonder he had a cold when I met him….(sorry!)

Paul Thomas Anderson

One of my current favourite directors is probably Paul Thomas Anderson. His films have a style, coolness and humour that is hard to combine with a strong story line. Paul however, manages it. The shoot with Paul was a 10 min job at Soho Hotel and he suffered from jet-lag (mixed with a little hangover from the night before). Not many people can carry off that look without one hour of hair and makeup but Paul did. It gave his slightly ruffled look an extra dimension which suited him well. The tired rub of his eye even looked good in a shot.

His new film ‘Inherent Vice’, looks to be a classic Paul Thomas Anderson film and I can’t wait to see it. Never before has anyone been given the permission to dramatise a Thomas Pynchon book before now and that in itself is a testament to Paul’s creative vision and execution.