Degrees by Andy Gotts, Kevin Bacon, Pierce Brosnan and Sir Alan Bates is available for 450RMB at The Bookworm, where Gotts will speak on Tuesday 17 April
The London-based photographer Andy Gotts – awarded an MBE this year for services to photography – is known for his insightful black-and-white portraits of some of the world’s most illustrious stars. This month, Gotts visits Beijing to discuss his coffee-table book Degrees, which examines the ‘six degrees of separation’ between the super-famous. Time Out asks the photographer to dish the dirt...
I met Brad while he was making Troy
. The film’s publicity team informed me that the maximum time we would have was 12 minutes. I had heard that Brad travels with an entourage of 14 people: bodyguards, hair and makeup, etc – I was not looking forward to having a massive audience. So I was pleasantly surprised when I answered a knock at the studio door and he was there by himself. The 12 minutes stretched to over an hour and a half. We were having a great laugh, messing about like lads do (and comparing which actresses we thought were hot). After the shoot, he gave me a hug and said that the shoot was the most fun he had had in ages and asked if I needed any help in getting the next person to photograph for Degrees. I was elated and asked him to contact any of his most famous friends. He picked up his mobile phone, had a brief chat, then passed it to me. ‘Hi Andy, it’s George [Clooney], fancy coming over to Lake Como for the weekend to take my photo?’ I was gobsmacked.
I shot George at his beautiful Lake Como residence. When I arrived, breakfast was being served on the veranda. It seemed more like a five-star hotel then a private house. After breakfast, George disappeared to find a space which had a plain white wall for the shoot. I had to manoeuvre my equipment around three obese (live) ducks in the hallway. But my tripod hit his bookshelf and a very large World Atlas dislodged from the shelf and plummeted onto a duck. In a panic – and not knowing what to do with an unconscious duck – I kicked it behind the bookshelf. George soon re-emerged wearing a pirate’s hat, which he had worn at a dinner party the previous night. When I pointed out what a fool he looked, he started roaring with laughter – there was my pic! Not long after the shoot, there was a muffled quack from behind the bookshelf and a dazed duck waddled out. I let out a nervous giggle.
I arranged to meet Kate at her London home. When I arrived, I pulled my car into her drive and rang the bell; the door opened an inch or two before Kate realised who I was: ‘Andy! I’m so glad it’s you, I have been hounded by paparazzi all day.’ It turned out there were rumours that Kate was pregnant (which she was, with her second child, Joe), but she was not ready to confirm or deny the situation to the media. It was half-term and I set up my equipment as Kate rushed around getting her stuff ready to take her daughter, Mia, swimming straight after the shoot. When Kate finally sat down in front of my camera I knew exactly what I wanted. I had noticed that many shots I had seen of her were very glamorous: with hair, make-up and designer clothes. I knew I wanted something simple – no make-up, hair scraped back, and no detail in the black clothes she was wearing. And she still looked absolutely stunning.
When I informed Orlando of my idea of having him in a black suit, white shirt and black tie – referencing David Bailey’s 1960s portrait of Michael Caine – he was concerned that it might step on Jude Law’s toes (who had been re-cast in Caine’s role as Alfie). I told him not to worry – I had a great twist. When Orlando turned up for the shoot, I explained the idea of wearing a pair of Union Jack flag-patterned boxer shorts under his suit. He looked a little unsure, until I told him that it was actually his friend Keira Knightley who had suggested the idea (a little white lie; it worked). After the shoot, Orlando asked if he could keep the shorts – a shame, as I was hoping to put them on eBay!