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09.09.09

When They Were Hunks

Remember when these heartthrobs made their debuts? View exclusive pictures of young Tom Cruise, Leonardo and Ashton BC (before the crow's feet) from a new book by celebrity photographer Greg Gorman.

In Their Youth is photographer Greg Gorman’s homage to celebrities and other outrageously beautiful male specimens—surfers, models, Andy Warhol ephebes—before they were celebrities; i.e., when “they were at a stage when they were vulnerable, open, and acting more for themselves. It was when they were just launching a career,” Gorman says. “They came to the table with more of an open plate.” Gorman was himself just getting started as a magazine photographer when he took many of these unpublished shots—though the collection spans over 40 years—and the connection between photographer and subject radiates off the page: in a playfully pouty mug from Leonardo DiCaprio; in Maxwell Caulfield’s look of James Dean-ian longing; in perhaps the only artifact in existence proving that before David Bowie turned to glitter and hotpants, he donned a turtleneck. Gorman’s shoots were occasioned by jobs—for Interview, GQ, Out, and other magazines—and, in some cases, with the help of Barbara DeWitt, a publicist and Bruce Weber’s sister, who supplied Bowie. A native Midwesterner, Gorman landed in California in 1970 to study film at USC, but wound up turning to photography because “film didn’t give me the control I’m used to—I’m a control freak.” After taking headshots for $35, he broke into the world of celluloid—doing publicity photography on Tootsie, The Big Chill, and Scarface. But, as In Their Youth displays, the real magic took place when he was off the clock.

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Excerpted from In Their Youth: Early Portraits by Greg Gorman (c) 2009. With permission from the publisher, Damiani.

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Nicole LaPorte is the senior West Coast correspondent for The Daily Beast. A former film reporter for Variety, she has also written for The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Observer, and W.