Monday, March 19, 2018

John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly, Toronto, Dec. 1999

JOHN C. REILLY WAS KNOWN MORE AS A CHARACTER ACTOR WHEN I SHOT HIS PORTRAIT for the National Post just before the turn of the millennium. I had worked for the paper since its launch - a relationship that I had hoped would turn into something more than it did. These photos were taken just when that relationship was diminishing.

Reilly was in four films released in 1999, but I'm guessing he was in Toronto for Magnolia, one of the big buzz films of the year. I'm pretty certain I interviewed him in addition to writing the story - one of the privileges of working for a start-up newspaper where editorial roles weren't as written in stone and keenness was rewarded.

John C. Reilly, Toronto, Dec. 1999

Since Reilly was more known as a character actor, I went in a more dour direction with these photos than I would have several years later, after he'd become as a comedy star with roles like Dewey Cox in Walk Hard or Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights. I've become a big fan of Reilly's since then - he occupies a rare position between straight man, comic foil and holy fool, often moving between the three easily, as he does in Talledega Nights.

John C. Reilly, Toronto, Dec. 1999

My daughters know him as the voice of the title character in Wreck-It Ralph, which he's reprising in a sequel this year. I suppose my fondness for Reilly is why I'd nearly forgotten about these photos - they're merely OK, taken when I was struggling for inspiration with my portrait work (and so much else besides.)

I began work at the Post with a lot of hope - I got in on the ground floor and had bylines and photo credits in the paper right from the first weekend edition, which was run as a separate entity from the daily paper at the launch in 1998. The Post blew through a ton of its start-up money during its first couple of years, and would be sold on to new owners the year after I shot Reilly.

By this point the weekend edition had lost its autonomy and the people I'd worked under during the launch had moved on. Additionally, the Post began functioning like a "normal" paper by now, and staff photographers began edging out freelance assignments. This might have been the last job I did for the paper, at least until nearly a decade later, when I was back to freelancing and the Post briefly took me on again after my time with the national free daily had ended.

But that's a whole other story.

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