May 21, 2008

Picture Post: Stars who call the shots

In Los Angeles, the paparazzi will go to any lengths to capture a film star sucking on a Frappuccino in Beverly Hills or, perhaps, looking "closer than ever" to their ex on Malibu Beach.

All of which makes this week's comments from Peter Grossman, the photo editor of Us Weekly – one of America's best-known celebrity rags – all the more unexpected. Speaking to ABC News, he praised the Bourne trilogy star Matt Damon, who, Grossman claimed, had earned his respect because he didn't court the attention of photographers.

"The thing is, there are some celebrities that absolutely get it," Grossman explained. "[Damon is] smart enough to not live in certain parts of Los Angeles and to not go in places where celebrities are always having their picture taken, and he didn't marry another celebrity, and he's the kind of person that has it all." Which is why you won't see many grainy photos of him shopping, jogging or tanning his "moobs" on the beach (not that he has any, of course).

In the UK, Damon's equivalent may be Ewan McGregor, suggests Joe Sené, who is head of editorial at Splash News, one of this country's biggest photo agencies. "He is Hollywood A-list – one of the world's biggest actors – who has been in some of the biggest films ever. But how many people know he has an adopted child from Africa? It's not because people aren't interested. It is that he doesn't court press. So he doesn't go to Saint Tropez in the summer and he doesn't go to the Caribbean in the winter. He doesn't fall out of nightclubs or eat at the Ivy seven nights a week, and doesn't live in Primrose Hill." According to Sené, Sean Bean and Emma Thompson are other great lens-avoiders.

By contrast, the likes of Lily Allen and Victoria Beckham literally bask in the glow of flashbulbs, creating a booming market for snatched pictures of them in any number of mundane situations. This is how Sené puts it: "The celebrities who are doing it are the ones that readers know more about, and therefore want to know even more about. And therefore they are the ones who are chased."

This week it seemed that an unlikely figure had joined the ranks of the paparazzi-teasers. After she appeared in more than a dozen pictures in Hello! magazine, at her grandson's wedding, some critics were yesterday comparing the Queen to a WAG. Matt Damon, for one, would never approve.

No comments: