ANTHONY KELLEY PORTRAIT
My friend Jeff Goldsmith hosts this incredible Q&A screening series for most of the latest films that come out... I highly recommend you check out his podcast "The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith" and his iPad magazine "Backstory" in the iTunes store. Jeff recently had a screening for Fight Club and got my original poster signed by Jim Uhls and Chuck Palahniuk, so he deserves a plug. He truly is a great moderator who gets into the details of the craft with his guests. I've picked up quite a few things from listening over the years, if you're into writing, you shouldn't miss out on his content. Plug over.
Anyway... Being a journalist, Jeff gets a press pass to most events and seeing as though I don't snore through the events (unlike our buddy who shall not be named), he usually extends an invite to me, which is awesome. So, this time around, I get a call from Jeff who has an extra ticket to the premiere of The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg and Brie Larson. It's screening at the AFI Film Fest in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which is where they hold the Oscars. I've met Brie a few times as she did a film with a friend of mine (who may or may not snore through events) and I was excited for her to be opposite Wahlberg and was looking forward to the film. Not to mention it was set in underground casinos and I'm all about seeing down into the gutter of that world on screen.
Without a review or spoilers, in the film Wahlberg has a few one on one scenes with a high school basketball player, who has a secret he's living with that is deeply troubling to him. In the Q&A after the screening, Wahlberg and the director Rupert Wyatt start to talk about the process of having to cast an actor who was truly gifted at basketball AND could hold their own in a scene. Not an easy task. Turns out they stumble across L.A. local, Anthony Kelley.
I genuinely thought Anthony had a very natural onscreen presence in his scenes and connected well with the camera. It's easy to see when people are pretending to act on screen vs. truly being focused and living in a small space in front of the camera and Anthony was definitely in the latter category.
After the Q&A Jeff and I headed over to the afterparty at the Roosevelt Hotel across the street. I'll be honest... Most people go to schmooze and talk shop at these things, though my priority is the great catering and open bar. Boom. I can still taste the spare rib, mini sliders and the lemon cake... I digress. As we were about to leave, Anthony and his entourage walk across my path. I congratulated him on his performance and somehow that turned into trying to convince him to watch True Detective as he hadn't seen it yet. I then remembered this spec spot I've had in my back pocket... I brought it up and his manager A.K. joined in the chat. They were interested and we decided to grab a coffee the next day.
I quickly saw Anthony and A.K. are good people. I'd checked out Anthony's IMDB and noticed his photos were on the light side and so I offered to shoot A.K. the next week. I shot him with a Phase One digital medium format camera, as well as my Mamiya medium format film camera. Anthony was easy to work with, we were talking most of the time about his experience shooting the film and the similarities between himself and his character. The only real challenge was fitting him into the frame, the guy is about twelve miles tall... We got some great shots, the camera caught a lot of his personality and emotion. We should all look forward to seeing Anthony on screen again soon. I guess after party event schmoozing does lead to cool opportunities and new friends.... and that let's not forget that lemon cake... phenomenal.