Friday, July 18, 2014


Steve Buscemi, Toronto, Fall 1992

I HAVE NO MEMORY OF TAKING THIS PICTURE, EITHER. I had to dig through my files to find a date, and since it was early fall, I'm guessing I shot this at the Toronto International Film Festival - once my big deal annual celebrity portrait blowout. It was probably taken at one of three hotels - two now closed - but don't ask me to tell you which one.

The routine back then was simple - I'd be assigned to meet a writer in one of the hotels, we'd be given fifteen minutes with some actor or director, and hopefully they'd be kind enough to give me five minutes at the end to get a roll of photos. Sometimes it would just be two or three minutes. After a while the publicists would start carving the time finer and finer, and well before your fifteen minutes were up you'd catch them out of the corner of your eye making chopping motions to let you know it was time to wrap it up.

There was no point bringing lighting, so you got good at boosting your ISO, finding the sweet spot of light in the room, and holding your camera steady at low exposures. After a few years - I shot at the film festival for 25 of them - you had the layout of each hotel and its rooms memorized, and simply walked to the sweet spot and cleared a bit of furniture. The limitations were brutal but sometimes - sometimes - you'd get something brilliant.

This isn't one of those times.

He looks so young here. Going by his IMDb filmography, Buscemi was here promoting either In the Soup or Reservoir Dogs or both. I probably knew who he was from his work with Jim Jarmusch and the Coen Brothers, but it would be a few years before I'd perk up when I saw his name in the credits, when he'd become one of those actors - like Christopher Walken or Bill Murray - who can redeem a bad film, even if just for a few minutes. He's my favorite thing in Fargo - the "funny-looking little guy."

For my daughters, he's the voice of Randall in Monsters, Inc., and probably always will be.

No comments:

Post a Comment