Past Headshots

 

 

1980. Age 20.

Of my very first headshot session not a single image remains. That’s a relief, actually; it was a horrible picture - and just to rub it in, I was completely fleeced by the guy who took it, who fed me all this technical mumbo-jumbo about using a large-format camera to get extra quality (at an extra charge, of course). The results were ridiculous and I couldn’t wait to destroy every single one of the hundreds that I initially ordered. Sigh.

This is an image from my second-ever headshot session, and with great relief I realized that this time things had worked out much better. I ended up using this photo for the next year or so.

It amazes me a little more each year that my face was ever this fresh and young. My God, with all that hair on top I practically look like a girl!

 

 

 

1981. Age 21.

I liked my previous headshot very much except one thing: I worried that it looked a little too innocent. Case in point: while I was doing Bent in Toronto Richard Monette saw it one day and said to me later, “My God, Paul, is that your picture? You look like you’re about three.” I had to agree. I wanted more gravitas. So I did this session some time in 1981.

The photographer was a Toronto woman named Diana Laanemets. I didn’t realized until later, when Linda and I were dating, that this is an Estonian name.

Ken McDougall loved this shot. He said, “It looks like you’ve just sat down and you’re saying, okay, take my picture, and then I’m going to go away and earn a million dollars.” I liked that very much, so I used this picture for a good 2-3 years after.

I still have the contact sheet from this session, and there are a lot of good ones, in fact. Diana was great.

 

 

 

1987. Age 27.

Somewhere I’ve got another headshot from around 1985 but I can’t find it right now, so we’ll have to skip to this one. It was taken in New York around 1987.

I forget the name of the photographer but he was a nice guy who worked somewhere midtown. It was raining that day, and we decided to leave my hair a little wet. Also, I remember that I was a bit nervous during the shoot and kept talking. Rather than stop me, the photographer just began snapping. It was an experiment, and I went along with it because I thought maybe the results would look less stilted. The upshot? They did. But they also weren’t very useful as headshots. Oh, well.

This is one where I finally stopped yapping long enough to just look at the camera and smile.

 

 

 

1991. Age 31.

Right after I moved to Los Angeles I had new headshots done. I had gained a little weight in the mid-eighties, but then after Linda and I separated I went on a strict diet-and-exercise regime and got my weight back down to about 195lbs. It made my face look quite different, so I needed new pictures.

Again, I can’t remember the photographer’s name, but it was a woman who lived somewhere in Hollywood. Hoping to repeat the success I’d had with Diana Laanemets years earlier, I asked her specifically to shoot one outdoors. As it turned out it was a very hot, sunny day (which oddly doesn’t show up here) and I was uncomfortable nearly the whole time. We finally did a few in the shade, and then another set inside. To my consternation, when I saw the contact sheets later, the indoors ones were by and large much better. But I was stubborn, or just plain dumb. I ended up going with this one.

I think at the time I thought it was a serious, dramatic look. Now I just think it looks unfriendly and not even all that interesting. Just goes to prove the old actors’ rule once again: you should never, never pick your own headshots. Always get people you trust to do it for you.

 

 

2000. Age 40.

Jim Metropole took these photos of me outside his theatre in Hollywood. I loved the contact sheets, but for some reason when prints were made they came back all washed-out and grainy. To this day neither of us know why.

I have had no headshots taken since these pictures were done for the simple reason that I didn’t need them. Headshots, remember, are a calling card that you leave for producers and directors who don’t know you, in the hope of getting work. But I didn’t have that problem. From 1998 through 2002 I went straight from one show into another; I was almost continually in either performance or rehearsal. I kept being hired by people who’d seen my work. So having a good headshot wasn’t an issue.

When I get back on stage in another year or two it’ll be interesting to see the change. I’ve grown a considerable number of new grey hairs since this photo was taken!