PHOTOBOOK: When they were young (I)

(this is the first article in the multiseries) Funny, how people with a knack already look the part of success at a young age. They have the shine, that thing that can’t be defined with words but that says, “I can’t be for sure where, but I’m going places.” The viewer of these images likely projects unto them, a forecasting of extraordinariness, the success that we’re familiar with but that the gifted individuals below have no inkling about yet.

In 1987 Todd Haynes was an MFA student at Bard College and made the short that everyone still talks about to this day, “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.” His 1998 “Velvet Goldmine” premiered in the competition program at that year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning a special jury award.todd_haynes

When he was in his mid-twenties Stanley Kubrick was a freelance photographer, selling the occasional images to magazines. To supplement his income he played chess for quarters in Washington Square Park.stanley_kubrick

David Cronenberg‘s fascination with the film “Winter Kept Us Warm” (1966) launched his passion for filmmaking. He began hanging at film camera rental houses, learned the craft and made two 16mm films (“Transfer” and “From the Drain”). Inspired by the New York underground film scene, he founded the Toronto Film Co-op with Iain Ewing and Ivan Reitman.
Catherine Deneuve has been playing aloof, mysterious beauties throughout her entire career. Her long resume is a French establishment unto itself (she still regularly performs in films in her native France). And yet Deneuve cites one of her earliest films, “The umbrellas of cherbourg,” as a personal favorite. She was twenty-one when she played in it.

Clint Eastwood is such a legend that seeing him in real, or someone who does a really good impression of him instead, has about the same effect on people. On Eastwood auditioning for him (a few years after the photo below was taken) Universal producer Arthur Lubin remarked, “he was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything” (Lubin suggested Eastwood attend drama classes). After finally signing the career-launching contract Eastwood was immediately criticized for his stiff manner, his squint, and for hissing his lines through his teeth, a feature that would become a lifelong trademark.


Benjamin Biolay (a French actor) is first and foremost a highly successful singer and composer whose dark nonchalance is reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg. His filmography reveals an actor who chooses his projects carefully. In 2010 Biolay notably appears in Franck Richard’s French-Belgian horror film “The Pack.”  benjamin_biolay

Ask anyone who works at the Cannes Festival and they will probably tell you that Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki has carte blanche. The auteur filmmaker and screenwriter regularly brings his films to the world’s foremost film festival. Those usually include an impossibly-scandinavian recipe of humorous, wacky, troublesome, dark and surreal. Second-degree humor is the pièce de résistance.

Featured image: Monica Bellucci. The Italian actress started as a model at age sixteen and before long became internationally known in fashion circles. One of her first roles as an actress was in 1992’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” seven years after this photo was taken. In 2002 she appeared alongside her real-life husband Vincent Cassel in “Irreversible” (that film has been named as one of Screen Comment’s all-time best films list), directed by Gaspar Noé, a choice which required quite a lot of courage from her as hers was a demanding role to perform.