Monday, May 28, 2018

Gerard Butler

Gerard Butler, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2005

EVERY CELEBRITY BECOMES DEFINED BY THEIR PERSONA, but movie stars live and die by theirs. I couldn't help but think of this when I was editing these pictures of Scottish actor Gerard Butler, shot at the film festival. I remember having a very definite idea of what Butler represented when I sat down with him in a suite at the Intercontinental on Bloor for our customary minute or two, and knowing that I had to capture some sort of machismo and swagger.

What I thought I remembered was doing this because of Butler's performance as Leonidas in 300, all six pack and wild-eyed defiance and spittle-flecked bellowing that "THIS...IS...SPARTA!!!" I was surprised when I did a quick Google search and saw that 300 wouldn't be released for two years, though Butler was at the festival promoting his leading role in the film Beowulf & Grendel. Clearly, long before Leonidas, Butler had defined his persona rather neatly.

Gerard Butler, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2005

Near the end of my second film festival since my return to shooting professionally, I was slowly getting used to the rooms at the Intercontinental. They weren't as bright or neutral as the rooms at the Four Seasons around the corner, and since the colour scheme favoured earth tones, the photos shot there almost inevitably had an added warm colour cast. I found myself shooting closer to the windows, which made the light taper into shadow much faster behind the subject.

For his part, Butler didn't need much direction. I placed a chair sideways by the window and asked him to put one elbow up on the back; he made a fist and provided me with a brooding look without any prompting. Of course it would have been more interesting to have him play against type - posing him amidst the fussy antique decor of a room decorated in chintz - but these one minute shoots were more about essence and convenience in the end, and the first thing the subject brought to it was what usually ended up in the camera.

Gerard Butler, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2005