Andrew H. Walker has photographed a lot of celebrities in his life. But at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival, he decided to try something … different.
“[Actors] have, not only this personal inside voice, but they have a public persona that they put out there, and they also have their private self,” said Walker, a staff photographer at Shutterstock, in an interview with Mashable. “There’s this whole other layer of themselves as people. I found that really, really intriguing.”
Walker placed a piece of tape on a table and told an impressive list of “A-list” celebrities to pose on either side of it as their “public” and their “private” selves. The only rule was that they couldn’t cross the tape line, so he could composite the photos later. As for which side of the tape they “performed” their “selves” on? That was entirely up to them.
Celebrities can be (understandably) protective of their image. But Walker was surprised to find that 51 A-listers were willing and eager to go along with his plan.
The 15 photos that follow are just a few of the highlights that show a surprising difference between their public and private personas — although which one is which, we can’t say for certain.
1. Sigourney Weaver was literally born into the entertainment industry.
But just because she’s good at being in front of the camera, doesn’t mean that’s where she always wants to be.
2. Then there’s John Legend, who’s clearly worked hard to write and produce so many signature grooves.
Legend’s somber expression is a powerful reminder that funky rhythms aren’t all fun and games when you’re cooped up in the studio for days on end.
3. As for Jeffrey Tambor — well, he’s got a bit of a Clark Kent vibe goin’ on.
I’m not sure which one is the public and which one is the private face. Because other than the glasses, there’s not that much of a difference. Which might also be the point.
4. Parker Posey is in a similar, albeit quirkier, boat.
Which one is the real Parker Posey?! I can’t tell because they’re both just so eccentrically cool, and so … her.
5. Meanwhile, Oscar Isaac needs a coffee.
He’s a busy guy, and those 14-hour days on set can sure get exhausting.
6. Sometimes Lupita Nyong’o is beaming. Other times, she’s just stunned.
Her brilliant smile certainly has a way of lighting up the red carpet. At the same time, I can totally understand if her expression on the right is how she feels inside during those events.
7. Perhaps Amy Adams isn’t always the stunning debutante.
Or maybe she’s really happier than her dramatic roles let on? Sometimes the spotlight’s appeal starts to fade when you’re right at the center of it.
8. Even silver fox Richard Gere shies away from the attention he receives.
(But like, c’mon, he’s still having fun with this either way.)
9. Sandra Oh seems like she’s either distracted or totally overwhelmed.
If you’ve ever been thrust in front of countless lights and cameras, you know that both emotions are a valid response. Or maybe her expression on the right is the way she looks in those awkward moments when she gets stopped on the street?
10. And there’s Rami Malek, who … is as wide-eyed and aloof as I’d expect.
No wonder he’s so good on “Mr. Robot.” Unless … maybe one of his personas in this picture actually is the real Mr. Robot? Plot twist! Hey, where’s Christian Slater?
11. As for Jane Lynch, she’s always a bit wacky and performative.
Frankly I’d expect nothing less of her.
12. Whether he’s upright or relaxing, Chadwick Boseman can’t seem to shake that natural steely gaze.
He has the shy, stoic look of a performer with the proper introspection to transform into someone else entirely whenever he’s on-camera. No wonder he’s so good!
13. Is Felicity Jones that much more chipper than the roles she plays?
Or is she actually more reserved than she appears while smiling on-screen — like she’s done ever since she was just 12 years old? Your guess is as good as mine.
14. Even Mahershala Ali has two sides of himself to show the world.
Here’s another star who looks like he revels in performing himself, in whatever way that he is today. One thing’s for sure: He’s a lot less intimidating here than he was in “Luke Cage.”
15. And last, but certainly not least, there’s Anne Hathaway.
Hathaway has had to deal with all the ups and downs of being both beloved and reviled by the general public, which is perhaps why her two different personas here show such a wide range of expression — and all the struggles that come along with being a person.
Walker’s work here is an eye-opening look at the many faces that people put on.
We all have different ways of presenting ourselves in different situations — to our jobs, to our friends, to our families, and to ourselves. We even act differently when we’re in front of a camera, perhaps especially when we’re trying to show off who we think we really are.
It only makes sense that these celebrities would be the same way since they’re people too. But the question still remains: Which one shows their “true” self?
Maybe there’s not just one right answer to that. Maybe we’re all multifaceted, with our own unique collection of personas, just like these celebrities. And maybe that’s totally OK. Because maybe that’s what makes us human.
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