Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Kyle MacLachlan

Kyle MacLachlan, Toronto, June 2004

WHEN YOU'RE YOUNG, YOU DESPERATELY LOOK FOR YOUR OWN REFLECTION IN CULTURE. That isn't to say you want to find someone who looks just like you - there's a difference between self-involvement and narcissism - but rather a character or persona who might plausibly have been formed by circumstances similar to your own.

I can think of a few characters I found in books and movies who came tantalizingly close - Malcolm McDowell in If.... and O Lucky Man, Holden Caulfield, Harold Chasen in Harold & Maude, at least until he tells the story of his mother's fainting spell - but it was Kyle MacLachlan who, first and foremost, fit the role, at least for me.

Specifically, it was MacLachlan in his trio of roles in David Lynch projects - Paul Atreides in Dune, Jeffrey in Blue Velvet, Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks - who embodied a mix of earnestness and irony, and a self-defining, even aggressive squareness formed in reaction to the enforced casualness of the Boomer generation that preceded us. MacLachlan was, in fact, five years older than me, but he had a youthfulness that telescoped that gap and persisted for many years.

Kyle MacLachlan, Toronto, June 2004

I photographed MacLachlan in a suite at the now-gone Sutton Place Hotel for the free daily. I haven't a clue what he was in town promoting - his filmography for 2004 includes an appearance on Law & Order: SVU, a TV movie unpromisingly titled The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, and a supporting role playing Cary Grant's spirit in something called Touch of Pink. Then, even more than now, I doubt if I cared much about any of that, excited as I was to be taking portraits of David Lynch's onscreen alter ego.

They're not riveting portraits. Six months after having been put back to work taking photos after a years-long layoff, I was already willing to fall back onto the mere technical consolation of "good enough," encouraged by the very brief window I'd be given to take my shots at the end of a fifteen minute interview slot.

I placed him in the dim threshold of "Anton light" toward the back of the room, but without any idea about what I wanted to get MacLachlan to do, apart from lean into an old school movie star pose. Years after the fact, I've brought that out in the black and white shot above, but if I'm honest I have to admit that it's a salvage job, and if I'm even more honest the reason I've avoided looking at these shots for nearly fifteen years is because they still smack of being a wasted opportunity.

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