Monday, June 25, 2018

Tim Robbins

Tim Robbins, Sept. 12, 2006

FIRST, LET ME SAY THAT I DIDN'T ASK TIM ROBBINS TO PUT ON THE TINTED SHADES, and I don't think I asked him to take them off. I give very few directions during a portrait shoot, and I know I would never discourage anyone from adding such a colourful - and unusual - accessory to a shot.

You know you're getting old when you watch an actor go from playing the callow youth (Nuke in Bull Durham) to the authority figure (Senator Hammond in Green Lantern.) Robbins' career has spanned most of my own, which had occasionally involved writing about movies, and while I've never regarded him as a peer, I've certainly regarded his work as up front in the cultural narrative I've been following as more than a spectator, starting with Robbins' role in Robert Altman's The Player.

Tim Robbins, Sept. 12, 2006

Robbins is an actor who likes to play the heavy, and he was at the film festival for Catch A Fire, playing a police torturer in apartheid South Africa. (I've never seen the film but I don't envy any actor trying to do a role with a South African accent - it's one of the hardest to nail.) While I certainly don't share his politics, I have a lot of respect for his choice of roles and apparent unwillingness to relax into an onscreen persona.

Perhaps this is why I felt more relaxed than I usually do when I photograph a big name, and once I found the nice light in the press suite at the old Four Seasons (usually an easy job) I took got up close and let my camera study Robbins' face. As I said before, my directions were minimal - little more than "look at me" and "look away." I might have asked him to close his eyes, but that's not usually something I tell people to do unless I think I've gotten what I want and think I can afford to "waste" a frame. (Nobody - and certainly not mass market newsprint like the free daily - prints portraits of celebrities with their eyes closed. That's just my little obsession.)

Tim Robbins, Sept. 12, 2006

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