Monday, November 13, 2017

Jason Patric

Jason Patric, Toronto, Sept. 1998

1998 WAS A VERY BIG YEAR FOR ME. I didn't have any major career breakthrough - quite the opposite - but it was the year when I met the woman who would become my wife. I had begun the year in London, England, and by the time the summer rolled around I had flown across the ocean again to visit my new girlfriend in Barcelona, where she had a teaching gig.

A year that began with what felt like a tipping point had definitely delivered on transformation. In hindsight, I'm tempted to scrutinize the work I did that year for signs of change. It's a lot of weight to put on shoots like this one of actor Jason Patric, shot at the film festival as a cover for NOW magazine.

Jason Patric, Toronto, Sept. 1998

Patric was becoming a leading man when I took these photos - an attractive actor in his early '30s who had gone from the vampire bro flick The Lost Boys to playing Lord Byron and a junkie narcotics detective. He'd been gossip fodder when Julia Roberts, at the peak of her "America's Sweetheart" fame, rebounded on to him after jilting his Lost Boys co-star Kiefer Sutherland at the altar.

As with my Ally Sheedy shoot, I'd returned to cross-processed slide film to try and extract as much saturation as possible from colour film. I could control the process just enough by now, and was looking to get the look of Kodachrome film, with its bright primaries and nearly plastic skin tones, as it often appeared in old magazines and the chromolithography that rendered colour photos almost like hand-coloured stills. An esoteric goal, to be sure.

Jason Patric, Toronto, Sept. 1998

I barely said a word to my subjects; having found the sweet spot of light - or, as in the case of this shoot, having created it with a high strobe light bounced into an umbrella - I gave only the barest of instructions (lean into the wall, look right, don't smile) and peered into the viewfinder until something registered in their eyes. I'd spent a decade desperately searching for a style; by this point, I decided to stop trying and pare away almost everything from around my subject. No complicated lighting, no backdrops, no pre-visualization.

Maybe I was inspired. Maybe I was just tired. Perhaps being in a relationship again after many years as a lonely single man had restored some confidence, or perhaps it had given me a healthy distraction from constant, anxious fretting over my creative direction. Nearly twenty years on, I look at these photos and can only imagine myself saying "Here are some photos of what Jason Patric, actor, looked like in this hotel room at this moment in time. Take from this what you will." I was either very secure about my work or simply beyond caring about making something photo editors might have wanted to see.

I'm not sure what happened to Patric's career after this. In the film he was promoting - Neil LaBute's Your Friends and Neighbours - he'd played a very convincing heavy, a sociopath who plays a major part in destroying the marriages of two couples. Perhaps he'd done his job too well, or perhaps he was simply too handsome, but he never became the leading man it was assumed he was going to be. Perhaps that was never his goal, as he's built a career since then playing anti-heroes, sadists, cops and untrustworthy authority figures. I won't lie and say that I don't wish he'd become a matinee idol, but I still like these very minimal portraits of a cypher-like subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment