BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Exclusive: Hollywood’s Biggest Stars Like You’ve Never Seen Them
Photographer Randall Slavin captured some of the biggest Hollywood stars—from Leonardo DiCaprio to Charlize Theron—partying up a storm before they ruled the world.
I wanted to remember everything. I was a terrible journal keeper, never being disciplined enough to keep it up more than a week or two. I was young and full of wonder and passion and I felt that all of my friends were so talented and cool and beautiful. I wanted to remember these adventures I was having. I wanted to remember the late Hollywood nights in forgotten clubs, studio apartments, and dimly lit street corners. Picking up a camera didn’t start out as an artistic pursuit for me. It began as a way to cement life in my faulty memory. If I had a picture of a moment in time, I knew I would never—could never—forget it
I kept a little pocket camera with me most of the time when I was running around L.A. in my twenties and would click away thinking that, someday, all of these people were going to rule the world.
(Spoiler: they did, and still do, rule the world. And I was there to capture the purity, the madness, the many distinct moments of our world.)
I didn’t have any plans for these images beyond the photo albums I kept in my closet. As the years went by and careers exploded, the pictures stayed private. Eventually, the more I shot, the more I fell in love with it. Taking photos soon overtook my world and became an obsession. I devoured images in magazines and books. I searched endlessly for work by my favorite photographers, stealing their ideas and trying to make them my own.
And before I realized it, I had become a photographer.
I look back on these early snapshots and I see the early seeds of the portrait photographer I would eventually become. I see my obsession with faces in these snapshots. I see my love of composition in these snapshots. I see the photographer I became in these snapshots. I see the through line of my life.
This book, WE ALL WANT SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL: snapshots and portraits 1990-2017 (available everywhere Nov. 5) is a peek into that world. Into those magical nights. Nights I would think ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ Nights where I was the only one with a camera in an era before everyone carried an HD camera in their pocket. Before everyone was a paparazzi.
Almost 30 years have passed since the first image in this book was taken, late one night standing in front of a coffee shop on Venice Boulevard.
I remember all of it.
JEREMY RENNER, 2005
My dear friend Mary Weiland (at the time married to Stone Temple Pilots’ frontman Scott) was having a big birthday party. As a young model she had left high school without graduating and wanted to have the ‘80s prom she missed. Jeremy, prior to finding success in the movies, worked as a makeup artist and did all of the girls’ makeup and teased the girls’ hair to an appropriate ‘80s height. Here he is at the party in a hideous lime-green tuxedo moments after spilling a large cocktail on himself.
REESE WITHERSPOON & EDDIE MILLS, 1995
This picture was taken backstage in 1995 (not 1990, as is incorrectly labeled in the book) at the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. following a Counting Crows’ concert.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO & CHARLIZE THERON, 1997
Charlize’s 22nd birthday party was held at the now-shuttered Bar Marmont on Sunset Blvd. I didn’t know Leo well, but we hung in the same circles. I remember the first time I ever saw him was at a party in early 1993 at Seth Green’s Burbank apartment. The apartment was chock-full of early-‘90s young Hollywood and in walked Leo and my buddy elbowed me in the ribs. “See that kid?” he said about the gangly kid in the long overcoat, “he just booked the new De Niro movie.” This Boy’s Life would come out a year later and that gangly kid with the big smile became Leonardo DiCaprio. I love this picture of him and Charlize because I don’t know if either of them have ever looked more beautiful than they did on this night in August 1997. Iconic. (And no, they were never an item. Just friends.)
JAMES VAN DER BEEK & FERGIE, 1998
This was taken backstage at the Forum in Inglewood during an *NSYNC concert. Fergie at that point was in a girl group, Wild Orchid, and known to all of us as Stacy. Years later when she was a huge success with The Black Eyed Peas we were doing a shoot for Entertainment Weekly and I kept referring to her by her given name and someone pulled me aside. “She goes by Fergie now,” I was chastised. “It’s OK,” Fergie broke in. “He’s known me long enough to call me Stacy.” Now I call her Fergie. She’s earned it. A real class act and I just adored her.
PAUL RUDD, JEREMY DAVIES & ROBIN TUNNEY, 1998
In 1998, Jeremy Davies and I attended a Hole concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Jeremy had done a movie with Paul a few years earlier so we all hung out that night. I don’t know Robin Tunney and didn’t know she was in the shot until I developed the film later that week. This is probably my favorite snapshot in the whole book.
CHANNING TATUM, 2006
Not really much to say here on this one, actually. This was just after Channing’s breakthrough role in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints in 2006. Channing was so charming and fun, playing with my bulldog Dickie.
KERI RUSSELL, BRYAN SINGER & ADAM DURITZ, 1998
This was taken in Park City, Utah, during the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. We were all at some random house party. Adam and Bryan had co-produced a movie which was premiering at the festival. Keri was doing the promo rounds for a movie also and we all just gravitated together and were hanging out a bunch. Truth is we all just had massive crushes on her. This was right before she would do Felicity and she was so magnetic and adorable. It was never a surprise when she became the next big hollywood ‘it’ girl a year or so later.
JASON STATHAM, 2003
In early 2003, Jason was a relatively unknown British actor who had just come over to do The Italian Job. An impromptu jam session broke out with Jason on the bongos, his girlfriend on the piano, a future Oscar winner on the castanets and a soon-to-be Marvel superhero on guitar. It’s nights like these that I look back on and realize what an incredible life I’ve been blessed with. To be surrounded by so much passion, beauty, talent and joy has really been incredible.
KATE HUDSON, 1999
This pic was taken at the Playboy Mansion in 1999. Hefner was newly single and the mansion began having parties again after a long 10-year drought. They were the greatest parties I’ve ever attended. It was all so new and exciting. This legend was back out of hiding and we were welcomed into his personal Valhalla. It was an incredible experience and I feel so fortunate to have been there. The Playboy parties after a while lost a bit of their luster and became a bit darker by the mid-2000s, but my friends and I still reminisce about those long nights in Holmby Hills where, if you squinted hard enough and had strong enough imagination, you could pretend it was 1974.
HILARY SWANK, 1995
Before I decided to devote my energies to photography, I (along with everyone else) was a struggling actor in L.A. My agent at the time, Bonnie, also handled young Hilary Swank. This was taken in Bonnie’s office. Hilary had already done this Karate Kid reboot thing and had been let go from Beverly Hills, 90210 (yes, even future two-time Oscar winners get canned!). I think in a moment of frustration and defiance she chopped her long chestnut hair short. It was a prophetic move because four years later she would don this look for her Oscar triumph in Boys Don’t Cry.
SCOTT WEILAND & LUCY, 2004
This picture was taken at a house party in Malibu in 2004. This picture breaks my heart. I know when it was taken Scott was in a really good spot and it seemed he had wrestled some control of the demons that would haunt him until his passing 11 years later. He was being so good playing with his young daughter Lucy and his son Noah. He was trying so hard. In all the times I spent with Scott, and there were plenty, this was the best I ever saw him. His son Noah now is making music and Lucy is modeling. Just like mom and dad.
ALYSON HANNIGAN, 1999
Halloween at the Playboy Mansion was pretty legendary. This party in 1999 was no different. There were haunted houses and monsters running around the fabled grounds. Alyson had just done American Pie and this was before Playboy banned guests from bringing cameras to their parties. I’m glad I had mine. I have pics from those parties that will NEVER be seen.
CHARLIZE THERON, 1996
This is at El Compadre Mexican restaurant in Hollywood in 1996. We used to love to go get Mexican food and delightful frozen margaritas there. I love this picture because it’s a side of Charlize that most people don’t get to see—the farm girl with the bawdy sense of humor and the decibel-shattering laugh.