I began working with John Malkovich more than 20 years ago, when he was an ensemble member of the world-renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company. I met John during a photo session, and we’ve been friends and collaborators ever since that initial meeting, creating 120 portraits to date. His belief and trust in my work is unprecedented. He has granted me many opportunities to work with him. Over the past years, I would approach John with various personal projects, ranging from short films to photographic stories. He has never said no, and has always been open to my ideas. For me, John is a beautiful clean canvas ready for paint. He is extremely open-minded, never fearful, and always willing to go to places most actors of his caliber would avoid. He is a genius willing to take chances—a talent that allows himself to become anything I ask.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The illness took me down hard and left me thinking about my future as a father, husband, and photographer. As a photographer, I had experienced a pretty good run of nearly 38 years, working with some of the biggest clients in the advertising world, winning a handful of the photography industry’s top awards, and exhibiting my personal work in many beautiful galleries around the world. I felt I had achieved more than I ever thought possible as a self-taught photographer.
Days would pass during my recovery and I would think, would I ever take another great picture? Several months after recovery and with much research I flew to France to see John, armed with a package of 30 iconic images by 28 master photographers. After consuming two bottles of wine, I showed John my idea and he fell in love. I chose John because deep in my heart, I knew he was the only actor who would be willing to morph into the numerous subjects portrayed in the original images. My biggest fear was that people wouldn’t take this project seriously. I didn’t want these to be a parody. I was serious about paying homage to these photographers and photographs that changed my perspective on photography. These images inspired me throughout my career and developed me into the photographer I am today. I wanted to honor these great photographers and needed the perfection of an actor who would put everything on the line. After eight months of research, I watched John become a boy, girl, man, woman, Marilyn, Picasso, Hitchcock, Bette Davis and Che Guevara.
Here are some of my favorite images of Malkovich: