Thursday, April 19, 2018

Stuart Townsend

Stuart Townsend, Toronto, Sept. 2004

MY PENULTIMATE SHOOT ON SEPT. 11, 2004 WAS BACK AT THE FOUR SEASONS ON AVENUE ROAD. Chris Atchison and I had been bouncing back and forth between the Four Seasons and the Intercontinental, and would for the next few days, always arriving just before our scheduled time, unsure if we'd have to wait or even have our interview slot cancelled. If everything was fine, we'd be let into the room and - unless the publicist or subject insisted on getting the photo out of the way - I'd scout the room for a nice spot to shoot while Chris did his interview.

My first subject just after lunch was Stuart Townsend, a handsome young Irish actor who had jumped from British theatre and television to big budget Hollywood films like Queen of the Damned and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where his talent for smoldering was put to good use playing vampires and Dorian Gray. Somewhere along the way he became involved with Charlize Theron, one of his co-stars, and arrived at the film festival in 2004 to promote Head in the Clouds, their second film together.

Stuart Townsend, Toronto, Sept. 2004

I doubt if I had to look around very much to find a spot in the room at the Four Seasons, and it looks like I simply took Townsend to a spot just past where the light from the windows dropped off and became soft and diffused. I don't think I gave him much direction, though I'm fairly certain I didn't have to bother saying "Just smolder a little bit for me, OK?" It would, judging from the results, have been unnecessary.

At the height of his career Townsend found himself in the unusual position of being the junior partner in a relationship with a movie star whose fame far eclipsed his own. The year after I photographed him he was terribly miscast as Carl Kolchak in a short-lived reboot of The Night Stalker, one of my favorite TV series of the '70s. Theron's fame didn't seem to supercharge Townsend's career much, though he did manage to direct a film, Battle in Seattle, while they were together.

Since their breakup in 2010, he's only made one film, and according to his brother, Dylan, Townsend has quit acting and moved to Costa Rica, where he's started a family with a local girl and runs his own garage.

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