By ANTHONY BARBOZA
as told to SEAN McCARTHY
August 05, 2011 12:00 AM
It was 1990 and I flew out to L.A. for a shoot of Laura Dern at a studio I had rented. She had just appeared in the movie "Wild At Heart," and I was going to shoot her for Elle Decor magazine. Before she arrived we were working in the studio, preparing the lighting while the makeup and hair people were setting up. Elle wanted us to shoot her on a white seamless background. She showed up right on time. I introduced myself, and from that moment she seemed amazingly sweet. I had known about her for awhile, but she seemed very different from the character Lula she played in her new movie.
I walked into the dressing room while she was getting her hair done, and she said, "Tony, I have a surprise for you," but she wouldn't tell me anything more. I began by shooting her on the floor, in jeans and a sport jacket top — she was so friendly and willing to do anything I suggested. She eventually changed into a black dress that looked very nice on her, and I did more shooting. While she was in the dress I sat her in a chair so I could show her long legs. We began shooting on the floor again, aiming for horizontal, double-page layout in the magazine. She eventuallly said, "Gee Tony, I really like you, do you want to go to Brazil with me?" I said, "Brazil?" She said she was going to be doing a film down there ("Medicine Man" starring Sean Connery) and wanted me to shoot her.
It was a very interesting offer. I thought back to my previous visit to Brazil in 1984, where I had spent an enjoyable month visiting Rio and Bahia, but I finally told her I couldn't go even though I'd love to — I had a family and other work to do. When I eventually saw "Medicine Man" I realized that she must have dropped out of doing that movie because Lorraine Bracco was Connery's co-star. She soon appeared in Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" instead.
During our shoot she would joke and be playful. There was a lot of laughing and giggling, but there were serious shots as well. It was the first and only time I got to photograph her, but to this day she's still one of my favorite people to have worked with.Near the end of the shoot I reminded her, "Where's the surprise?" She said, "Oh, it'll be coming soon, you'll see." And a few moments later, who walked in but David Lynch, the man who wrote and directed "Wild At Heart." She had also worked with him on the movie "Blue Velvet," and he must have remembered my name from a shoot I did of him about a year earlier.
As I was finishing the shoot with Laura, I asked if I could take some photos of the two of them together. So they sat on the floor with each other and were hugging and having a good time. I shot quite a few rolls of film of them together that turned out really nice. One of them wound up being published in Elle along with the single shots of her.
When we finished up the shoot, Laura hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and asked me again if I wanted to go to Brazil. I thought about it a bit more seriously ... but I ended up laughing and told her I just couldn't because I had work to do.
That day I learned that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and that people who appear to be "Wild At Heart" can actually be very sweet at heart.
New Bedford native Anthony Barboza began his career in 1964 at the age of 20. His photographs have appeared in such publications as National Geographic, Vogue, Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Playboy and Fortune, and belong in permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Cornell University and more. He's been a lecturer, curator, co-director of a TV commercial featuring his close friend Miles Davis and a grantee of the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives on Long Island with his wife, Laura Carrington, and the three youngest of his five children.
Bl!nk: Laura Dern was as sweet as her on-screen characters weren't