Shooting the Hollywood Stars


Shooting the Hollywood Stars

Documentary in which British fashion photographer Rankin reveals the rich history of Hollywood photography and how its most influential and enduring images were created.


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Transcript


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I'm Rankin, a British photographer.

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I've been photographing some of the world's most talented

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and famous people for over 20 years.

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My work takes me to LA a lot, and I love the place.

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I've always been intrigued by the Hollywood dream,

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the idea that anyone can come here and become a superstar.

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Some of those stars not only created the dream, but they keep it alive.

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What fascinates me is it's not only the movies they starred in but their

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photographs that gave these screen legends their iconic status.

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I think the iconic images stay with you because they touch you,

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because they give you a feeling of something about that person

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or about that look, and we connect with them.

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How did the photographers achieve this remarkable connection with us

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and what is it that makes them so powerful?

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Hollywood's images endure across generations

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and have certainly influenced me,

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so I'm going to delve a bit deeper

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into how these remarkable images were achieved

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by recreating what I think are some of the most memorable.

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I used to spend my childhood looking out of the car windows and thinking

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about things framed, and I think a lot of photographers and film makers

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probably looked at the world in this way, through a window, thinking, "This is how I see something."

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And it gives you the chance to capture what you see in a camera,

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but also it's a way of communicating your ideas

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and your feelings and your emotions within the images.

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I've chosen to recreate images that are very much of their time

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so will show me what Hollywood was really like when they were taken.

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Some of LA's leading creatives are going to help me.

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Between them, they've worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

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And since movie stars are essential to any Hollywood photograph,

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I've assembled a cast of top Hollywood actors to join me -

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Leslie Mann from the hit comedy Knocked Up,

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Selma Blair, star of Legally Blonde,

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Matthew Rhys from US drama Brothers and Sisters

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and the extraordinary character actor Michael Sheen,

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star of The Damned United and Frost/Nixon.

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Plus a real Hollywood legend, Jane Russell.

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I'm starting with one of Hollywood's greatest screen sensations, Charlie Chaplin.

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Younger people might not even have seen a Charlie Chaplin film,

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yet everybody in the world still knows who this guy is,

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and that image of him has been perpetuated by photography.

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It's not necessarily film that's done it.

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And what's really interesting about

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portraiture and Hollywood is that, actually,

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photography is what has sustained these icons over the last century.

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-If you look at all of the photographs of him

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throughout his career, they're fantastic photographs.

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He never really took a photograph that didn't tell you a story, so...

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Even here, he's telling you the story about the tramp, so...

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He's one of my favourites.

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To me, it looks like it was shot on location

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outside with natural daylight.

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Also, we have to remember at that time that lighting was very limited.

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And this is why people came to Hollywood to make films, because the light was so good.

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Generally, 350 days of the year it's lovely sunshine.

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So we're going to go into the parking lot, set up a white drop

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and then scrim it, cos it's a very soft side light

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coming from his left-hand side, our right-hand side.

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So we're going to give it a go and see what it looks like.

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Acclaimed British character actor Michael Sheen

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has played public figures like Brian Clough in The Damned United,

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David Frost in Frost/Nixon and, famously, Tony Blair.

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He's taking up the challenge of posing as Chaplin.

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Every morning, going onto the film set, I'll sit in make-up,

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and that becomes a really important period of time for me,

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cos I'll always get the photographs of the character

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or anything that visually kind of helps me,

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and we'll put them up on the mirror and sit in there

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for an hour or whatever it is, an hour ½, every morning.

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It's like slowly it starts to seep in, looking in the mirror...

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Clearly, there's a lot of him in it.

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It's a mask as much as any actual mask is,

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that he's created this kind of mask to reveal himself.

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Like Oscar Wilde said,

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"Give a man a mask and he'll show you his true face,"

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and that's so true.

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I wanted to see if Michael wanted it to be as we just talked, that mask,

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and we'll do the full make-up, or if just the costume and the hat

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and maybe that would be enough, and your face...

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I think the full make-up. Don't you?

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-I think we should go for the full thing, yeah.

-Yeah?

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-Yeah.

-What, a total transformation?

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I'd veer towards being heavier with the make-up rather than lighter,

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because I'm liking the idea of being able to get a sense of someone

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way back there somehow looking out from behind this mask.

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The distinctiveness of Chaplin's look

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is both a challenge and an advantage.

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Chaplin is one of the most recognisable characters in history,

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so it's important to get him just right.

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The costume that we selected for Chaplin,

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we did the kind of turn-of-the-century-looking

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cutaway jacket and the little waistcoat.

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And since he's kind of like a hobo,

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we just did these kind of like ties that are just kind of a little sash.

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-Where did you get them from?

-All this came from Western Costume.

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They have archives of clothes back through

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the mid-1800s up till current, loads of everything you can imagine.

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I've picked several different waistcoats.

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Like, this one was just kind of a dingy cotton.

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This is the fabric that would be most accurate,

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but I think the pattern on this one

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would probably be closest to a Chaplin pattern.

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Why did he go for this costume?

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Well, he was on the set, Keystone, his first couple of weeks on the job,

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and it was early February of 1914, and his director, Mack Sennett,

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just told him to go put on a comedy make-up.

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He borrowed a little bit of this and that from other people,

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and, according to Keystone,

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he used large, gargantuan pants belonging to Fatty Arbuckle.

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And another comedian, James Avery, he used his small jacket.

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And then he borrowed a derby from Arbuckle's father-in-law

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and Ford Sterling's size 14 shoes.

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They were so big for Chaplin

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he had to put them on the opposite feet just to get them to stay on,

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and that's where part of the splay-footed walk comes from.

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How old was he at this point?

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He would have been in his early twenties.

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I think the costume overall, when you look at it,

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it's somebody who's still very much down on their luck,

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not financially secure, obviously.

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He's still trying to become part of the petit bourgeoisie with the hat, the cane.

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He's still trying to maintain his respectability.

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And I think that that was something that was very important to people

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who immigrated here, who were still finding their way

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and trying to find their feet financially and socially.

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And the fact that his films were silent,

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there wasn't a language barrier,

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so immigrants who came to the US could easily understand

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his films and appreciate them.

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I take pictures of actors a lot but rarely in character,

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and I was enthralled by Michael's detailed and ritualised preparation.

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It's not the right shape, either.

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This is sort of wider here than it is here,

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so it's making that shape, whereas his is straighter.

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Well, it's kind of...yeah, I think it's sort of like, it comes....

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Yeah, it's more like... not a triangle.

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'I drive people mad, I think, cos I'm so particular about things.'

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-That's pretty close, I think.

-Maybe not as pointed there.

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Yeah, maybe not.

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And slightly fuller on the end, as well.

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What do you think like that?

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It's slightly uneven.

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We're going to cut it.

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And I think it's quite good having that slightly smokier thing around the top of it.

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-Blend it a little bit?

-Yeah, a little bit, yeah.

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-Mm.

-Shall we get dressed?

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Yeah.

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I don't like looking at myself, particularly,

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so the more I'm looking in the mirror

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and the more I start to see the character start to emerge,

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then I know when I'm getting there,

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because I start enjoying looking at myself!

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Can I ask you to see what you think?

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Can we just fill in that a little bit?

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-Darker?

-Yeah. Just...

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I love how into this you are. It's amazing!

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I'm obsessive.

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It's the ultimate character,

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and you've got the ultimate character actor

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playing the ultimate character, so...

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It's a nice circle, really.

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It's very exciting.

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OK.

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God, it's great!

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That's great. Chin down a little.

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'Listening to Michael talk about how he gets into someone's head

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'as an actor to play a real person'

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is a really interesting reflection on what a photographer does

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to pull out the person that's beneath the mask, as he put it.

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And tilt at the waist a little to the left.

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That's it there. Great.

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'And that's my ambition for this shot,

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'to capture not just an image of Chaplin, but Michael's performance.'

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Your nose to the right a little. That's it.

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Tilt the top of the head to the left a tiny bit.

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And then your nose slightly to the right. That's it. Good.

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That's great. Eyebrows...

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Really looking through...

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-Oh, I love it.

-There's something kind of resigned about his face...

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-Yes.

-..and that's what's kind of difficult to get.

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He's both kind of present and not present.

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-Can we just do a few more?

-Yeah, we can do as many as you want.

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Rather than trying to get exactly the right physicality,

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I want to try and do whatever it takes to get the right sort of feel.

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Yeah. Let's go for it.

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OK.

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I want to sort of look down,

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-and then just say "When" and I'll look up.

-OK.

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'And now, as if by magic,

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'Charlie appears.' Three, two, one.

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Wow.

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Oh, dude! Dude, dude!

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Oh, my God, that's amazing!

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-That's closer.

-That's amazing!

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That's a bit weird.

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It's really different. He really looks like him.

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Yeah?

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-I'm really excited by that.

-Yeah.

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Because Michael's done real people before,

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I think he knows how to try and inhabit a character.

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I get a little bit kind of obsessed by form and position and stuff, and

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he did that very naturally, and once he'd got into that,

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he just took it the extra mile.

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That's it, for me.

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-I'm really happy with that.

-Great. OK, good.

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Good. I would mess around with the hat a little bit.

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I don't like the shape of the hat. It's not quite right.

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The Chaplin image is a great one to start with,

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marking the moment audiences fell in love with the idea of a movie star.

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The industry exploded, and fans were hungry

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for images of their screen idols,

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so an array of fantastic photographs were produced to meet the demand.

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But as Hollywood became big business,

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a constant supply of superstars was needed,

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so the studios began, in essence, to manufacture them.

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Beautiful women and men were given lessons in singing,

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dancing and, of course, acting.

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Hollywood stylists experimented with hairstyles,

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make-up and clothes to achieve just the right look to market them,

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using alluring publicity stills.

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A brilliant example of this is actress Theda Bara.

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A tailor's daughter from Ohio, she was marketed as seriously exotic.

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Audiences were told she was half French and Italian

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and grew up in the shadow of the Sphinx.

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Theda's image was also artfully styled,

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transforming her from a plain Jane to smouldering vamp.

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With daring costumes and flamboyant make-up, she oozed raw sex appeal.

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Theda was a hit.

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Provocative images like this drove thrill-seeking audiences

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to cinemas just to see their idols on the screen.

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The best portrait photographers were hired,

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and soon hundreds of magical images promoting the stars

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filled the world's newspapers

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and magazines.

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Those Hollywood photos of the 1920s and '30s

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show just how skilled the photographers were

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at drawing out the most beautiful characteristics of their subjects.

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They used soft lighting and diffused lenses

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to create images of dreamy, romantic and perfect idols.

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A photographer who typifies this golden age of Hollywood is Clarence Sinclair Bull.

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His mesmerising photos of Greta Garbo are truly iconic.

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Mark Vieira, an expert on classic Hollywood photography,

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is going to help me look more closely at Bull's techniques.

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But it's actually the camera that produced the characteristic look of this period.

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This is a soft-focus lens,

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and it's manufactured with a photographic defect,

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which is that the points don't focus on the same spot.

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If you focus in front of the nose,

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you get beautiful, soft, milky highlights and you get halations.

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When it's wide open, it's really soft,

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and then, as you close it down, it's less and less soft.

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Clarence Bull, photographing Garbo, used it wide open,

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which means that it'll give a nice, creamy, soft effect.

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Clarence Bull took over 4,000 photos of Garbo,

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and the intense bond between them shows.

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He expertly captured her in a mood.

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The composition of the photo we're recreating is exquisite.

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I love the way Garbo's face is framed,

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drawing the viewer in and making you feel like you really know her.

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I think the best portraits reveal the relationship between photographer and subject.

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Garbo eventually refused to work with anybody else except for Bull.

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How do you feel, stepping into her shoes?

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I love it.

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Happy. Sad. Uh...

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Leslie Mann is famous for her comedy performances,

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but it's Garbo's melancholy yet bewitching gaze

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and that special relationship that we're both keen to capture.

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So I recreated the intimate studio set-up Sinclair Bull and Garbo used.

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That's really getting there. A little more for me.

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Wow.

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OK, that's great.

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That's really great.

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It's just trying to straighten it a little more. Pan round more.

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That's it.

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Wow.

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That's amazing, the eyes.

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Fantastic.

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Now, this last one's it.

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I feel like I'm looking at an old photograph.

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I feel like I'm looking at something that was taken in the...

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..in the '20s or '30s.

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-You really look like her!

-Yeah.

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She looks more disturbed.

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-Yeah, but it's still great.

-Yeah, it looks great.

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-I'm really happy with that.

-Me too. I think it looks great.

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Hollywood has always provided escapism, and during the dark days

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of the Depression, America was hooked by the movies.

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The portrait photographers were a critical part of this dream machine,

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and the Hollywood studios thrived.

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In 1941, one of America's wealthiest men, Howard Hughes,

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turned his attention from his aviation empire

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to exploit the mass appeal

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and huge influence of Hollywood.

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He produced a film called The Outlaw and commissioned

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some particularly risque photos of Jane Russell to publicise it.

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What I like the most about the image is the history of the image,

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because it has so many connotations of pin-up and of sexuality,

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but it's a classic, classic... um, glamour photograph.

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But it's got a lot of sexual innuendo going on it,

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so you've got the leg,

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which you can see almost...

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This isn't a stocking, but it looks a little bit like a stocking.

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Obviously, the breasts are very prominent,

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and you've got the naked shoulder,

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so it's as if she's not wearing a bra. Her arm's up.

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It's a kind of "come hither" sort of thing,

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but at the same time she's got the gun, the pistol,

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so it's got a little bit of danger going on.

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Hollywood has always pushed the boundaries,

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but The Outlaw was made at a time when industry regulators

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had taken a particularly hard line when it came to sex on screen.

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The infamous Hays Production Code detailed exactly what was

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and, crucially, what wasn't allowed

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when it came to violence and sex in movies.

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And in the history of photography,

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this is quite an interesting image, because it did mark a kind of move

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to a style of photography that was a little bit different

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from what was going on before. Is that right?

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It was almost like... OK, in two ways.

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Technically bold, iconoclastic,

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something that hadn't been done before.

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Aesthetically, it was almost like he was defying the production code

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and saying, "I'm going to put the sexual thoughts on this photo paper,"

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and nobody else had done that.

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Howard Hughes hired George Hurrell

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to take the publicity photos of Jane Russell,

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and he broke new ground with this sizzling shot.

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Hurrell pretty much created the idea of the Hollywood glamour photo,

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and what Hurrell did that was different was to bring drama,

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to use more dramatic lighting to sharpen the picture,

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to go from the soft-focus lens to a commercial lens,

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a hard lens, because he knew the effect he wanted to accomplish,

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a bold, sexy, dynamic look.

0:22:500:22:52

I'm not shy when it comes to taking sexy photos

0:22:560:22:59

but was glad my wife Tuuli, who's an aspiring actress,

0:22:590:23:02

agreed to pose as Jane.

0:23:020:23:04

What are your thoughts, gang?

0:23:050:23:08

Just keep it literal, I would say - red lips, strong eyebrows...

0:23:080:23:13

-Siren.

-Siren, yeah.

0:23:130:23:15

-I think it would be a crime to...

-Bombshell.

0:23:150:23:17

Bombshell, beautiful.

0:23:170:23:19

The '50s pin-up kind of look,

0:23:190:23:21

it's so sexy, and it transcends

0:23:210:23:25

from the '40s and the '50s right until today.

0:23:250:23:28

Everyone wants to have that gorgeous hair.

0:23:280:23:30

It really frames the face beautifully.

0:23:300:23:32

So I think, for us, it's a really good go-to.

0:23:320:23:35

Well, this picture, this is all about the chest area, obviously.

0:23:350:23:41

-I was looking at the pistol!

-Yeah, right(!)

0:23:410:23:45

And what are you going to do about the boobs?

0:23:450:23:47

We do have to create a double D size cup.

0:23:470:23:50

She's definitely a D, but she looks double D in this picture.

0:23:500:23:54

We have some little things that we like to call "chicken cutlets".

0:23:540:23:58

I think you're going to need bigger ones than that, love.

0:23:580:24:01

-We have double.

-These are tiny!

0:24:010:24:03

-Here's the big ones, right here.

-I don't really need them.

0:24:030:24:07

-See, so what we do...

-Whoa, they're whammers!

0:24:080:24:11

I've dropped my tit. Sorry.

0:24:110:24:14

I've dropped my boob, I should say.

0:24:140:24:16

So what we do here - these are sticky, so you stick them on.

0:24:160:24:19

I've gone out with girls that have got these.

0:24:190:24:21

-But they've got them inside.

-Inside, yeah!

0:24:210:24:24

-So you stick these on.

-Stick 'em on.

0:24:240:24:27

You pull 'em together, you clip 'em,

0:24:270:24:29

you give 'em a little snap like this.

0:24:290:24:31

-Mm!

-There you go! Feels real?

0:24:310:24:33

Yeah. Real enough.

0:24:330:24:35

They have, like, double padding to add into it.

0:24:350:24:39

So we may layer all three of these, actually, in this picture...

0:24:390:24:44

And of course, her revolver up there.

0:24:460:24:49

They're very light. These are actually wardrobe.

0:24:490:24:52

So you want to go like this.

0:24:520:24:54

OK, and you walk three paces and turn.

0:24:540:24:57

Too slow.

0:24:590:25:00

You get out of here.

0:25:030:25:05

And shut the door.

0:25:050:25:07

Jane Russell was only 19 when the photo was taken,

0:25:080:25:11

and she's lived in the limelight ever since.

0:25:110:25:14

She's Hollywood royalty,

0:25:140:25:16

and though I've worked with my fair share of stars,

0:25:160:25:18

I was genuinely excited when Jane came to talk to me

0:25:180:25:22

about posing for this famous photo.

0:25:220:25:25

Did Howard Hughes have anything to do with the pose?

0:25:250:25:27

No, no. I never saw him.

0:25:270:25:31

He was supposed to have designed a bra for you to wear...

0:25:310:25:34

Yes, I know, but that's because I was wearing a silk jersey blouse.

0:25:340:25:41

-Yeah.

-And you could see the seams,

0:25:410:25:45

and he didn't like that. He was way ahead of his time, actually.

0:25:450:25:51

He was looking for a seamless bra.

0:25:510:25:54

But they didn't have such a thing.

0:25:540:25:56

So he tried to have one put together.

0:25:560:26:00

And I tried it on, and it wasn't comfortable.

0:26:000:26:04

So, I knew what he was trying to do, and I put my own bra on,

0:26:040:26:11

and then I covered it with Kleenex - not tissue paper,

0:26:110:26:17

which they always say in the magazines.

0:26:170:26:22

Tissue paper would make it look...

0:26:220:26:24

You're talking about Kleenex that you use to blow your nose.

0:26:240:26:28

Yeah, regular Kleenex, and it was soft, and it covered up the seams,

0:26:280:26:33

and they looked and looked and looked

0:26:330:26:36

and said, "Well, yeah, that's going to work."

0:26:360:26:40

They thought it was Hughes',

0:26:400:26:42

and I had thrown his under the cot in my dressing room!

0:26:420:26:47

-You're going to give me grief, aren't you?

-Yes.

0:26:480:26:51

Do you think, styling-wise, we've kind of captured...

0:26:510:26:54

Please, I know we could never capture your own essence,

0:26:540:26:58

but have we captured a little bit of the era for you?

0:26:580:27:01

-Sure!

-OK.

0:27:010:27:02

Why didn't you do her flat on one side?

0:27:020:27:07

Cos she's going to be lying down!

0:27:070:27:10

OK. This is the side that should be out.

0:27:100:27:12

-Oh, it is?

-Well...

0:27:120:27:14

Whatever. You just got to do what you want to do.

0:27:170:27:20

Just be yourself and look at the camera

0:27:200:27:25

-like you're looking at somebody.

-OK.

0:27:250:27:30

-There's only one Jane Russell.

-Yes.

0:27:300:27:33

Thank heaven!

0:27:330:27:36

TUULI GIGGLES

0:27:490:27:50

-You're just gazing at my tits!

-Just gazing at your boobs.

0:27:500:27:55

God, that looks pretty good straightaway, doesn't it?

0:27:550:27:57

Well, the thing with these old 10x8s, the image is upside down

0:27:570:28:02

and it's back to front, and so it's quite complicated.

0:28:020:28:06

I'm just going to kind of smooth out some of the wrinkles,

0:28:060:28:09

like here across the tummy area.

0:28:090:28:11

The skirt has kind of a lot of little folds in it,

0:28:140:28:19

so to keep extra folds and the fullness...

0:28:190:28:22

The hair and make-up's good, the styling's looking good, she's more stretched.

0:28:220:28:28

I mean, I think if we want to really try to recreate it precisely,

0:28:280:28:31

there's quite a lot of stuff we need to do.

0:28:310:28:34

Let's have a look. Like that? And back.

0:28:360:28:40

-And up.

-OK, I need something,

0:28:400:28:41

cos there's a hole there, so there's nothing there.

0:28:410:28:44

So, her nose goes up that way, and then... That's it.

0:28:440:28:48

Yeah, that's getting there. And then push your chin back, like that.

0:28:480:28:53

So is that the right place?

0:28:530:28:55

Yeah, that's it, and then the head back, like that. That's it, yeah.

0:28:550:28:58

I would never position a model this minutely,

0:28:580:29:02

because it's much more interesting if you get a model

0:29:020:29:06

into position and then they find positions themselves.

0:29:060:29:10

How hard is it for you, Tuuls?

0:29:100:29:12

I don't have any feelings in my hands any more.

0:29:120:29:15

So if I drop the gun, I'm sorry.

0:29:150:29:18

Hold that a second.

0:29:180:29:20

The light's not right, but...

0:29:200:29:22

Using a 10x8 camera is definitely more about positioning,

0:29:260:29:30

because your lighting's so specific.

0:29:300:29:33

So he would have probably set his lights

0:29:330:29:35

and then kind of moved them a lot quicker,

0:29:350:29:38

but he would have had to be a little bit more structured

0:29:380:29:41

than I would normally be.

0:29:410:29:43

Yeah, then bring it round.

0:29:430:29:45

Bring it round.

0:29:450:29:47

I mean, it was very close right there.

0:29:480:29:51

It's almost like his key light was over here.

0:29:510:29:54

'I thought the lighting for this shot seemed straightforward,

0:29:550:29:59

'but we'd all underestimated the challenges of Hurrell's set-up.'

0:29:590:30:04

Maybe he was over here.

0:30:040:30:07

Yeah, it's just really hard, it's really hard to get it all the same,

0:30:070:30:15

hard to tighten everything up.

0:30:150:30:18

It's not like a fingerprint,

0:30:180:30:20

you can just put your finger on it and go, "Right, that's it".

0:30:200:30:24

-Rankin?

-Yeah?

-That's about twice as high as it needs to be.

0:30:240:30:27

That's too high. Your two lights are fighting each other. This is...

0:30:270:30:31

Somebody focused this in. It shouldn't be focused in,

0:30:310:30:34

it should be feathered out like that,

0:30:340:30:36

the scrim is too high and this should be more over like this.

0:30:360:30:40

And see, now that light under her chin from the kicker is not exactly where it should be.

0:30:410:30:46

It's still not where it ought to be.

0:30:460:30:48

-OK.

-Just leave it. Just leave it.

0:30:530:30:56

-Yeah!

-Looks interesting.

0:30:580:31:00

Not what you were setting for?

0:31:000:31:02

No, I wouldn't go for that, but... No.

0:31:020:31:04

Erm...

0:31:060:31:08

'Lighting is such a critical but delicate aspect of photography.'

0:31:110:31:15

Even though Mark had shared Hurrell's precise techniques,

0:31:150:31:19

the fact we're in a different studio with different lights

0:31:190:31:22

and even different hay

0:31:220:31:24

means we have to adapt the set-up to get the same effect.

0:31:240:31:27

I've always looked at these recreations of Hollywood Golden Age photographs

0:31:270:31:33

and thought, "God, they really can't get them right."

0:31:330:31:37

And now I'm learning why.

0:31:370:31:40

That's it. Great. OK, let's shoot it.

0:31:400:31:43

-Totally sharp.

-Great.

0:31:480:31:50

And into the camera.

0:31:520:31:55

And the mouth open.

0:31:550:31:58

Right through the lens, baby.

0:31:580:32:00

Three, two, one...

0:32:000:32:03

OK, great.

0:32:030:32:04

Let's let Tuuli go, guys, come on.

0:32:060:32:09

-That's great.

-Yeah, it's quite good, isn't it?

0:32:150:32:18

It's a really interesting exercise, yeah.

0:32:190:32:22

I've learnt a lot about it, and...

0:32:220:32:24

I've actually learned a little bit about lighting as well,

0:32:240:32:28

which I didn't know before, so that's good.

0:32:280:32:31

It's good education.

0:32:310:32:34

-Anyway, thank you.

-My pleasure.

0:32:340:32:36

-Shall I give you a big kiss now?

-No.

0:32:360:32:38

No... Not red lips.

0:32:390:32:41

Anyway, there you go.

0:32:410:32:43

The scandal generated by Hurrell's photo meant when The Outlaw

0:32:430:32:48

was finally released five years later, it was a box-office smash.

0:32:480:32:52

The racy look he created made Jane Russell

0:32:520:32:55

a movie star and a Hollywood pin-up.

0:32:550:32:58

World War Two had an enormous impact on Hollywood films and the tastes of audiences.

0:33:110:33:18

They were no longer inspired by the pristine, tailored look

0:33:180:33:21

of matinee idols like Cary Grant and Bing Crosby.

0:33:210:33:24

They represented old-fashioned values

0:33:240:33:27

that had been swept away by the war.

0:33:270:33:30

Now, that's how I'm going to clear the table.

0:33:360:33:38

'A new generation of movie stars, like Marlon Brando,

0:33:380:33:42

'rejected the old-style glamour

0:33:420:33:44

'in films like A Streetcar Named Desire.'

0:33:440:33:46

Hey, Stella!

0:33:500:33:53

Hollywood's photographers latched on to Brando's

0:33:530:33:56

more urgent and earthy presence,

0:33:560:33:59

capturing the brooding, rebellious look he adopted

0:33:590:34:02

in films such as The Wild One.

0:34:020:34:04

I wanted to discover how his image redefined masculinity.

0:34:080:34:11

Actor Matthew Rhys, a striking British talent

0:34:130:34:17

who stars in the series Brother And Sisters, agreed to be my Brando.

0:34:170:34:21

-Look at you, Brando.

-Brando-ed.

0:34:210:34:23

-I just noticed you...

-Beardy Brando.

-I know.

-It's great.

0:34:230:34:28

You got Photoshop, don't you?

0:34:280:34:29

-We'll leave it.

-Really?

-Yeah, you look handsome.

0:34:290:34:32

-We'll do bearded Brando.

-Yeah.

-The formative years.

0:34:320:34:35

Let's take a look at you, hat off.

0:34:350:34:37

Yes.

0:34:370:34:39

The Mild One.

0:34:390:34:43

-I'm feeling it.

-Yeah?

-Yeah, it's good.

0:34:430:34:46

Brando became the archetypal wild one

0:34:490:34:51

by combining great acting skills with a carefully constructed image.

0:34:510:34:56

After World War II, a new school came in

0:34:580:35:01

that Brando was very much a part of,

0:35:010:35:04

method acting, and that certainly extended to his costume.

0:35:040:35:08

He wanted everything to look as authentic as possible.

0:35:080:35:11

This is the emergence of the kind of bad boy image,

0:35:110:35:15

the first anti-hero bad boy.

0:35:150:35:17

Yes, definitely.

0:35:170:35:20

-Why were people into that?

-Still into it.

0:35:200:35:23

At that point, what was the break from the elegant to the...

0:35:230:35:28

Well, I think that there's always been an element of the outcast and the rebellious in society.

0:35:280:35:35

Certainly Chaplain was, and Brando, in a certain sense,

0:35:350:35:38

was carrying on the same tradition,

0:35:380:35:41

dressing differently, making a statement with what he wore

0:35:410:35:44

about his position in society and he made a statement with his clothing.

0:35:440:35:48

Did it become more about the body, then...

0:35:500:35:53

Well, I think with Brando,

0:35:530:35:55

because the characters he played on screen and the work that they did,

0:35:550:35:59

whether is was Stanley Kowalski in a Streetcar Named Desire,

0:35:590:36:03

or the character that he portrays here,

0:36:030:36:05

they were definitely working class men

0:36:050:36:07

who were using their muscles more than, say, their minds.

0:36:070:36:11

-Is this actually Brando's jacket?

-No.

0:36:110:36:14

You're meant to say yes. That's why I'm doing it.

0:36:140:36:17

Look, it says, "M Brando".

0:36:170:36:19

Look at that.

0:36:210:36:24

-Ready to shoot?

-I'm ready when I sort of squint a bit.

0:36:240:36:27

-Yeah.

-Drop one shoulder. Yeah.

0:36:270:36:30

Brando's raw virility and seductive menace

0:36:300:36:33

gave birth to a new anti-hero in Hollywood.

0:36:330:36:36

The rebel.

0:36:360:36:38

Do you want something?

0:36:400:36:42

Yeah.

0:36:420:36:44

I'd like a bottle of beer.

0:36:440:36:45

Generations later, he's still hero-worshipped

0:36:450:36:49

by most of the men I know.

0:36:490:36:50

When this came through and they said,

0:36:500:36:52

"Do you want to pose as Marlon Brando in The Wild One?",

0:36:520:36:55

you go, "Yeah" and then you go, "No. What? No, of course I can't!"

0:36:550:37:00

Because, certainly from the age of 18,

0:37:000:37:03

I spent, especially the early years, wanting to be Marlon Brando.

0:37:030:37:07

This is like a move away, photographically, to a location still,

0:37:070:37:12

-but this is much more casual than a normal location still.

-Yeah.

0:37:120:37:16

He's still in character

0:37:160:37:18

but it has a rawness to it and an energy to it

0:37:180:37:21

which almost feels like he just leant across it and did it.

0:37:210:37:25

Vroom! That was a good sound effect.

0:37:250:37:27

But it's interesting that he's not the icon

0:37:270:37:32

that Marilyn Monroe or James Dean are.

0:37:320:37:36

That's kind of why I wanted to photograph this shot,

0:37:360:37:40

because he ended up kind of growing old in public.

0:37:400:37:44

But he sort of paved the way for James Dean

0:37:440:37:46

-so there could be a James... do you know what I mean?

-Yeah.

0:37:460:37:50

He was the first that did it.

0:37:500:37:51

It's getting there.

0:37:530:37:54

Yeah, needs to come over this way a bit.

0:37:580:38:00

Let's have a look at that.

0:38:020:38:03

You need to be more at that angle.

0:38:050:38:08

His arm is rested in here.

0:38:170:38:21

Yeah. I think his body was more that way. Yeah, that's it.

0:38:210:38:26

And then his left arm was really far out.

0:38:260:38:29

There, that's it. Like that.

0:38:290:38:32

-And his eye line was...

-What's his right hand doing?

0:38:320:38:34

His right hand is, like, in a fist, But, like, into the...

0:38:340:38:38

That's it, yeah.

0:38:380:38:39

And I think that reflector's too much.

0:38:460:38:48

Nose to me a bit more. And your eye line still...

0:39:080:39:12

That's it.

0:39:120:39:14

And almost like a questioning look in the eye.

0:39:140:39:17

That's it, yeah, good.

0:39:170:39:19

Good. OK.

0:39:200:39:22

Bingo.

0:39:220:39:23

Hollywood's new, dangerous leading man captivated audiences

0:39:260:39:29

and sales of leather jackets and jeans went through the roof.

0:39:290:39:33

This look was instantly adopted as a uniform of youth,

0:39:330:39:37

inspiring generations of rebels that followed, including me.

0:39:370:39:41

# I got a fever An inflammation, that's what I got

0:39:540:40:00

# You turned the heat on me some like it hot. #

0:40:010:40:06

No story about Hollywood is complete without one of its greatest legends.

0:40:080:40:12

Marilyn Monroe was the star who had an unparalleled relationship with Hollywood photography.

0:40:120:40:19

Fuelled by the public's almost insatiable appetite

0:40:190:40:22

for pictures of her,

0:40:220:40:23

she was one of the world's most photographed stars.

0:40:230:40:26

The ones that we all recognise are the bombshell, the sex symbol,

0:40:280:40:34

the woman that men wanted to have, women wanted to be.

0:40:340:40:39

Marilyn recognised the power of photography to further her career.

0:40:390:40:43

But certain photographers pierced her glamorised exterior

0:40:430:40:47

with more intimate images that reveal a more complex woman within.

0:40:470:40:51

When she was already a huge star

0:40:510:40:54

she invited the photographer George Barris to follow her for six weeks.

0:40:540:40:59

There was going to be a Cosmo spread, seven or eight pictures,

0:40:590:41:03

where they would reveal not just Marilyn, the sexpot,

0:41:030:41:09

but Marilyn the real girl, where she was in her life.

0:41:090:41:14

I think when you look at these photos she had great optimism...

0:41:140:41:19

-Yeah.

-For what was coming ahead.

0:41:190:41:21

She finally felt like, "I don't care what they say about me, I'm going to set the record straight."

0:41:210:41:28

-But they're still sexy, aren't they?

-Well, she couldn't help that.

0:41:280:41:31

She couldn't help...

0:41:310:41:33

-She wasn't just being sexy, she is sexy.

-She just was sexy.

0:41:330:41:38

It just came from her.

0:41:380:41:40

-Do you think she enjoyed having her photo taken?

-Absolutely.

0:41:400:41:43

Every photographer said that when the lights went on she went on.

0:41:430:41:47

She's probably one of the most photographed women on the planet

0:41:470:41:50

but it's funny because it's only when you get to these last few sessions

0:41:500:41:56

that she starts to kind of want to be seen, really seen.

0:41:560:42:00

You start to really see her.

0:42:000:42:02

And then unfortunately she dies.

0:42:020:42:04

If you come round here to the Bert Stern.

0:42:040:42:06

These photographs are absolutely, by a million miles,

0:42:060:42:10

my favourite photographs of her.

0:42:100:42:12

Bert Stern, when he saw her for the first time,

0:42:120:42:15

she was surrounded by men in a room.

0:42:150:42:17

He said all the light in the room was focused on Marilyn.

0:42:170:42:21

Or was the light coming from her?

0:42:210:42:24

He wanted to create portraits of her where she was the light.

0:42:240:42:30

So he lighted this

0:42:300:42:33

very high key.

0:42:330:42:35

There are very few shadows.

0:42:350:42:39

No background. Pure white.

0:42:390:42:42

And these sheer veils, they were to only veil,

0:42:420:42:47

in the slightest way, who she was.

0:42:470:42:51

Right.

0:42:510:42:53

That you could literally see through them and see the real Marilyn.

0:42:530:42:58

-It's amazing.

-Yeah.

0:42:580:43:00

Bert Stern took these photos of Marilyn when she was 36,

0:43:020:43:06

in what turned out to be one of her last photo-shoots.

0:43:060:43:09

Marilyn used her image as a tool to keep her in the public eye.

0:43:110:43:15

And she kept tight control of it,

0:43:150:43:16

putting crosses on the negatives of any photographs she didn't like.

0:43:160:43:21

I just am fascinated by this because, to me,

0:43:260:43:30

what's amazing and so seductive about the picture

0:43:300:43:34

is this is actually her mark through it.

0:43:340:43:37

It's as much a picture by her as it is by Bert Stern.

0:43:370:43:43

But at the same time,

0:43:430:43:45

I don't feel necessarily completely comfortable

0:43:450:43:49

with the fact that I'm seeing it

0:43:490:43:51

because she obviously wanted it canned at the time.

0:43:510:43:54

She didn't want this shown.

0:43:540:43:56

I feel like I'm seeing inside

0:43:560:43:59

of her head a little bit by seeing it.

0:43:590:44:02

It's an absolutely beautiful photograph of her.

0:44:020:44:05

I think he really understood,

0:44:050:44:08

after her passing, that these needed to be shown.

0:44:080:44:12

You see, when you look at these pictures you do get a feeling of knowing her.

0:44:180:44:25

But when you look at some of the other pictures you feel...

0:44:250:44:28

it's a mask.

0:44:280:44:31

Marilyn is still the superstar that she is because of the images that were taken of her.

0:44:350:44:40

Although she's been dead longer than she was alive,

0:44:400:44:43

our understanding of her is still developing

0:44:430:44:46

as she creates fresh relationships with new generations

0:44:460:44:49

every day through photography.

0:44:490:44:51

# Hey man, leave me alone, you know

0:45:120:45:15

# Hey man, oh Henry get off the phone

0:45:150:45:18

# Hey man I've gotta straighten my face

0:45:180:45:22

# This mellow thighed chick's just put my spine out of place... #

0:45:220:45:25

# And when it's time I'll go and wait Beside a legend... #

0:45:290:45:34

By the end of the 1960s, Hollywood had lost its mass audience to TV.

0:45:340:45:39

A new generation of stars and directors,

0:45:410:45:43

like Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda,

0:45:430:45:45

brought original ideas from the new counter-culture

0:45:450:45:49

and Hollywood embraced them in order to survive.

0:45:490:45:52

It worked, and new Hollywood came roaring back to profitability with hits like Easy Rider.

0:45:520:45:59

# It's the time of the season

0:45:590:46:04

# When love runs high... #

0:46:050:46:07

But in the 1970s, magazines like Life and Rolling Stone pioneered

0:46:070:46:12

portrait photography that adopted a reportage style.

0:46:120:46:16

A new breed of photographers stripped away the public artifice

0:46:160:46:20

to capture a more private image - the person behind the movie star.

0:46:200:46:24

# It's the time of the season for love... #

0:46:240:46:29

The next photo that's inspired me captures that new style

0:46:340:46:37

of photography beautifully,

0:46:370:46:38

and the story behind the image is just as captivating.

0:46:380:46:43

In 1976, Faye Dunaway won an Oscar for best actress in the film, Network.

0:46:430:46:49

The British photographer Terry O'Neill set up

0:46:490:46:52

a photo-shoot with her at dawn on the morning after the big event.

0:46:520:46:56

It's a real treat for me to discover more

0:46:590:47:01

about this influential image from the photographer himself.

0:47:010:47:04

Terry still recalls the shoot vividly.

0:47:060:47:09

I wanted to take the most famous Oscar picture that I could.

0:47:100:47:14

I wanted to do this the morning after,

0:47:140:47:16

when you sit there and that's when the penny drops

0:47:160:47:19

that your money is going to go from, say, half a million to three million.

0:47:190:47:24

It's a total change in an actress's life.

0:47:240:47:28

When I tried it, I used a different hotel and a different actress.

0:47:280:47:32

I invited Selma Blair, star of Legally Blonde

0:47:320:47:35

and the Hellboy films, to be my Faye Dunaway.

0:47:350:47:39

My shot that I was thinking of doing

0:47:390:47:43

was with you as yourself, not as her.

0:47:430:47:47

I wanted to know if you thought you'd want to be her, a wig on...

0:47:470:47:52

No, I wouldn't want to do a disservice

0:47:520:47:55

to Faye Dunaway and just mimic her.

0:47:550:47:57

But I think the idea of the photograph

0:47:570:47:59

is what's so incredible and what was so pioneering.

0:47:590:48:03

It was really a very intimate,

0:48:030:48:05

casual look into celebrities' lives.

0:48:050:48:07

The problem that we have is that the light

0:48:070:48:12

is going to be completely different because a normal LA morning,

0:48:120:48:17

because of the smog, is really flat light.

0:48:170:48:20

What we are actually going to get,

0:48:200:48:22

and this is very unusual for LA, a very clear morning.

0:48:220:48:25

The sun is going to come up right there and we're going to be shooting right here

0:48:250:48:30

and it'll be quite hard sidelights.

0:48:300:48:32

The thing about this photograph that's interesting is it's one of the first photographs

0:48:320:48:36

where the person is themselves.

0:48:360:48:38

Up to that point, most actors were photographed

0:48:380:48:42

-for the Hollywood photographs...

-As a character.

0:48:420:48:45

This appears so intimate.

0:48:450:48:47

I feel if I wore a wig it would add a layer of costume.

0:48:470:48:52

What I love about the picture is it's a little

0:48:520:48:55

depraved and messed up.

0:48:550:48:58

I kind of would like to take Selma 's normal hair

0:48:580:49:01

and texturise that. Are you OK with that?

0:49:010:49:04

Do you think that's a good idea or would you prefer me to put movement in there?

0:49:040:49:08

No, no, you can just put it as if I've slept or lack of slept on it.

0:49:080:49:12

Which is probably what happened to Faye on that picture, right?

0:49:120:49:16

Three hours' sleep, so no sleep...

0:49:160:49:18

I don't think she got any sleep that night.

0:49:180:49:20

That's probably hair and make-up from the night before.

0:49:200:49:23

Can you imagine winning an Oscar... You wouldn't go to bed, would you?

0:49:230:49:27

I wouldn't, no.

0:49:270:49:29

I remember 3 o'clock in the morning we got her to bed,

0:49:290:49:32

cos she was celebrating with her husband.

0:49:320:49:34

I thought, "If she gets up for this I'm very lucky."

0:49:340:49:38

I got up at 5:30am, went down to the pool, got all the papers

0:49:380:49:42

and laid it all out.

0:49:420:49:43

'Lo and behold, at 6:45am she shows up with her husband.

0:49:430:49:47

-Amazing.

-Yeah, cos she was out of it at 3 o'clock.

0:49:470:49:51

-So did she turn up wearing the negligee?

-Yeah.

0:49:510:49:54

I started...

0:49:540:49:57

I got the Oscar down from her room

0:49:570:50:00

while she was getting dressed and everything.

0:50:000:50:04

Then I got the breakfast tray

0:50:040:50:05

and I just decorated the whole picture, actually.

0:50:050:50:08

Then she came in, a great pair of legs and I was off.

0:50:080:50:11

# Oh, it's so good it's so good, it's so good

0:50:130:50:17

# It's so good, it's so good...#

0:50:170:50:20

That's great, that's a really great mood as well.

0:50:200:50:22

I'm allowed to in this moment, for maybe the only time in my life,

0:50:220:50:26

consider an Oscar and not feel like a narcissistic ass for it.

0:50:260:50:31

This is... You know, that's a huge indulgence

0:50:310:50:35

to get to pose and somewhat tap into the mindset of that.

0:50:350:50:40

-How does that feel?

-Cos I want to...

0:50:400:50:42

It feels... Good.

0:50:420:50:46

It took a while to get the details of the shot right.

0:50:480:50:52

And, as I suspected, we then had another challenge.

0:50:520:50:55

Just waiting for cloud cover because it will duplicate the lighting

0:50:570:51:02

that we've been trying to create.

0:51:020:51:04

The sun is just coming up here.

0:51:040:51:08

It's very low, it's a very fragile light.

0:51:080:51:12

Morning, beautiful, soft light.

0:51:120:51:14

What we are getting is hard sunshine, so...

0:51:160:51:20

The scrim's here to try and replicate that,

0:51:200:51:24

but the longer the morning goes on,

0:51:240:51:26

the less and less effective this becomes because the higher

0:51:260:51:29

the light goes the more impossible it is to scrim a whole swimming-pool.

0:51:290:51:33

The early morning light helped the whole ambience of the picture.

0:51:330:51:37

Just that whole feeling.

0:51:370:51:39

You know, it's not just a bright lit LA day.

0:51:390:51:43

-And it is the best light of the day, isn't it?

-Absolutely.

0:51:430:51:47

The LA morning is the best light.

0:51:470:51:49

I was hoping we could get some cloud cos there is some cloud up there.

0:51:490:51:54

It looks like it's going to cover.

0:51:570:52:00

Here we go.

0:52:150:52:17

# Oh, you and me

0:52:190:52:22

# You and me, you and me You and me, you and me... #

0:52:220:52:28

That's it there. That's great there, great.

0:52:310:52:34

That's good. That's it, that's great.

0:52:360:52:38

I love that, the hair looks great.

0:52:380:52:40

I'd leave that bit down, I think it's cute.

0:52:400:52:43

That's great, I love that. Hold that.

0:52:440:52:47

# I feel love. #

0:52:470:52:54

Brilliant eyes, Selma.

0:52:540:52:57

# I feel love I feel love... #

0:52:570:53:05

That's great.

0:53:070:53:09

The thing that's interesting about the photograph

0:53:110:53:14

is not the technique or the style so much

0:53:140:53:18

as her at that moment, in that place, doing that thing.

0:53:180:53:23

It's more about...

0:53:230:53:24

Me thinking about her at that moment.

0:53:240:53:28

It wasn't just a photograph.

0:53:300:53:32

What's hard for you is you've got to try and recapture that.

0:53:320:53:36

But it's not... I've got the advantage of the real thing.

0:53:360:53:40

You've done an excellent job in trying to capture it,

0:53:400:53:43

but you can't get that moment because it's not happened to her.

0:53:430:53:46

Of course, no.

0:53:460:53:49

After this picture came out, the whole

0:53:490:53:53

of photography in Hollywood changed.

0:53:530:53:56

People saw there was another way of doing things.

0:53:560:53:59

I first went to Hollywood in 1964.

0:53:590:54:04

I used 35 mm.

0:54:040:54:05

I thought the whole world used 35 mm.

0:54:050:54:08

I get there and nobody has ever used 35 mm before.

0:54:080:54:11

I used to go and photograph Steve McQueen,

0:54:110:54:13

Paul Newman and all these people with this camera.

0:54:130:54:16

They loved it because they were used to still sessions in the studio.

0:54:160:54:21

-Like that.

-Retouched and everything else.

0:54:210:54:24

I was like a breath of fresh air.

0:54:240:54:26

You were part of a window of opportunity between the early '60s

0:54:260:54:31

and the mid '70s, early '80s where there was no control.

0:54:310:54:37

Before that the studio system was in control, and then after that

0:54:370:54:41

the stars have protected themselves through publicists.

0:54:410:54:44

I don't know which way it's all going to go.

0:54:440:54:46

Annie Leibovitz stands out for me at the moment.

0:54:490:54:52

She makes a star look a movie star, to me.

0:54:520:54:57

She's got that touch and she's got the technique.

0:54:570:55:00

Do you think she shows you anything about the subject?

0:55:000:55:03

You don't think anyone is poor in any of her pictures, do you?

0:55:030:55:07

They just reek of wealth, glamour and stardom.

0:55:070:55:11

It's a new Hollywood glamour, isn't it?

0:55:110:55:13

Yeah. She's taken on the baton and is finishing the race.

0:55:130:55:18

Annie Leibovitz is best known for her work for Vanity Fair.

0:55:280:55:31

She's been a huge factor in the magazine's success.

0:55:310:55:34

Her work always generates attention, but it was her 1991 photograph

0:55:340:55:38

of Demi Moore that turned the Vanity Fair cover story into a news story.

0:55:380:55:43

It was a perfect storm.

0:55:460:55:47

Suddenly Vanity Fair just exploded after that.

0:55:470:55:52

It's also Annie Leibovitz in her prime, shooting these pictures.

0:55:520:55:57

And the production values on them, they are like mini films.

0:55:570:56:01

You always think about, that image has to break that 20 ft wall.

0:56:010:56:07

You are walking by a news stand and that has to grab you.

0:56:070:56:10

You can go into a magazine store

0:56:100:56:12

or you see them on the corners, there's thousands of magazines.

0:56:120:56:16

So many of the photographs are really bad and tell you so little

0:56:160:56:20

about the person, which is what you want a photograph to do.

0:56:200:56:23

You want a photograph to take you on a journey with that person,

0:56:230:56:27

even if it's for a few seconds or moments,

0:56:270:56:29

and make you think of them in a different way.

0:56:290:56:31

Someone like Kate Winslet was just a flash of light,

0:56:310:56:35

these pictures. It was, "Whoa, look at Kate Winslet!"

0:56:350:56:39

-Almost contradicting...

-It was completely opposite.

0:56:390:56:42

Contrary to what everybody thought of her.

0:56:420:56:44

You never think of her in this way.

0:56:440:56:46

She's got two children, she's married to Sam Mendes, they are proper and English.

0:56:460:56:52

You look at these photographs and they are just to die.

0:56:520:56:55

This in particular one.

0:56:550:56:57

-Unbelievable.

-The tush shot.

-It's beautiful.

0:56:570:57:01

I love her.

0:57:010:57:03

-She's tremendous. And the cover was great.

-Beautiful.

0:57:030:57:06

Vanity Fair in particular,

0:57:080:57:10

we have a love affair with old Hollywood.

0:57:100:57:13

So we are always going back to that time

0:57:130:57:16

of making someone like a Grace Kelly or the early days of Liz Taylor,

0:57:160:57:20

or even Winslet, Belle de Jour, let's get back to Catherine Deneuve.

0:57:200:57:24

I think that when you step forward, you have to step backward.

0:57:240:57:28

I think in that relationship Vanity Fair...

0:57:280:57:31

It's a very dynamic and productive relationship between the two.

0:57:310:57:36

# Hooray for Hollywood... #

0:57:470:57:51

What's been great about going back is being able

0:57:510:57:54

to really scrutinise and analyse what might have been going on

0:57:540:58:00

in the photographer's mind or the subject's mind.

0:58:000:58:03

Everyone is coming from a similar place, and that's trying to capture an image

0:58:030:58:07

that evokes an emotion within the person that's being photographed

0:58:070:58:12

and then within the viewer that looks at it.

0:58:120:58:14

Even though the style and techniques

0:58:140:58:16

of photography have shifted and evolved,

0:58:160:58:19

the best and most iconic Hollywood images

0:58:190:58:22

do what every portrait photographer hopes to achieve.

0:58:220:58:26

To capture an essence of the person being photographed

0:58:260:58:29

and create an image that endures through time.

0:58:290:58:32

Hollywood has seduced us with beautiful images.

0:58:320:58:35

I would say its influence, because of photography, is as strong as ever.

0:58:350:58:40

# Hooray for Hollywood

0:58:440:58:47

# Hooray for Hollywood

0:58:530:58:56

# That phoney super-coney Hollywood

0:58:560:58:59

# They come from Chillicothes and Padukahs

0:58:590:59:03

# With their bazookas

0:59:030:59:05

# To get their names up in lights

0:59:050:59:07

# All armed with photos from local... #

0:59:070:59:11

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:110:59:13

Rankin, the UK's leading fashion photographer, reveals the rich history of Hollywood photography and how its most influential and enduring images were created. From Hollywood's golden age, epitomised by gorgeous images of screen goddesses Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich to brooding shots of Marlon Brando; from the unparalleled allure of pictures of Marilyn Monroe to iconic black and white stills of Charlie Chaplin, Rankin immerses himself in the art of the Hollywood portrait and explores the vital role it has played in both the movie business and our continuing love affair with movie stars.

To understand how the image makers of Hollywood created these iconic photographs, Rankin recruits a cast of leading Hollywood actors to help him recreate some of the most important - including Leslie Mann (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin); Selma Blair (Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions), British actor Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters, Dylan Thomas's biopic The Edge of Love); actor extraordinaire Michael Sheen (The Damned United, Frost/Nixon), and Hollywood legend Jane Russell.