Thursday, April 26, 2018

Emile Hirsch

Emile Hirsch, Toronto, Sept. 2004

BY THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK OF THE FILM FESTIVAL things start to fall apart a little bit. Tight interview schedules get blown apart and hotel rooms get scarce for interviews. Which is why I found myself in the courtyard terrace of the Hotel Intercontinental photographing Emile Hirsch, which wasn't the best place for a portrait shoot.

The light, coming down from straight above, was poor, and with nothing but brick walls, foliage and patio umbrellas all around, it was impossible to find a neutral background. I had no choice but to find the least cluttered spot and shoot as tightly as possible. Back when every celebrity portrait shoot was a potential page in my portfolio, this might have broken my heart, but by the time I was at the free daily the idea of hustling for outside photo work was long gone.

Emile Hirsch, Toronto, Sept. 2004

Hirsch had moved from TV to movies a few years earlier, a young actor who projected an onscreen mix of innocence and intensity. He'd been in The Girl Next Door, a romcom, earlier in the year but he was at the festival with Imaginary Heroes, co-starring with Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels. Making small talk before I started shooting, I said that I thought The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys - a box office bomb he'd starred in a couple of years earlier - deserved to do better. This seemed to please him, and the shoot went well, despite the less than auspicious setting.

Hardly earth-shattering portraits. I have a guilty admission to make: I sort of hoped Hirsch's career would go nowhere after I took these, so I wouldn't be haunted by a thwarted opportunity to get a really nice photo of someone famous when they were young. (Even more guilty admission: I used to do this all the time.) Thankfully for him I never got my way; Hirsch started in Sean Penn's very fine adaptation of Into The Wild, the Christopher McCandless story, a few years after I took these shots, and he's nailed down a string of decent roles since then. Good for him.

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