At a shoot in early September, Charlie and I were kidding (sort of) that we know who’s a “film dork” like us by whom he/she thinks is being referenced when someone says Steve McQueen. No, not the (dead) white cool American actor* but the black brilliant British filmmaker (and video artist), director, most recently of “12 Years a Slave.”
I’ve been fascinated by Steve McQueen’s work since I saw his video installation, “7th Nov” at Marian Goodman Gallery in 2005. And then was awed by his first narrative feature, “Hunger” (2008)–and Michael Fassbender’s performance as Bobby Sands.
So I was thrilled when Tim Rhys, editor, publisher and founder of MovieMaker–whom I always love to work with–asked me to shoot McQueen and Fassbender for the fall issue, which has recently been published. The shoot was ably (and unflappably) organized by the magazine’s managing editor, Kelly Leow, and McQueen and Fassbender agreed to be photographed in my studio.
At the New York Film Festival press conference for “12 Years a Slave,” McQueen said, “Michael is the most influential actor of this time, like…Gary Oldman was. People want to become an actor because of Michael, be in a movie with him, make a movie to have him in it. He’s like Ginger Baker–you just want to jam with him.”
Fassbender, while I was shooting him, said, “I wasn’t getting interesting work and was ready to give up acting and I would have if I hadn’t met Steve and made ‘Hunger,’ ” expressing a unique lack of a sense of inevitability for an actor of his immense talent, charisma–and he’s not unattractive.
Steve facetiously asked me, “Will you shoot the quintessential portrait of Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender? The photo that whenever anyone thinks of us, this will be the image they have in mind?” See below.
*In a “film dork” sight gag in Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor,” Fassbender, as the otherwise unnamed title character, visits Javier Bardem during the day at the drug dealer’s nightclub, and is photographed in front of a huge framed black and white photo of the American Steve McQueen, wearing his “Le Mans” outfit.