March 13, 2023

brendan fraser, the whale, hollywood authentic, cover, issue 3, greg williams, greg williams photography

For those of you who have been following us on the journey that is Hollywood Authentic, you may notice some changes to this, the third issue. Principally, how we have gone big on the cover story – 16 pages big, to be exact. Hollywood Authentic is constantly evolving, and now you will start to find much more online at, where I share videos, audio and update you more regularly on what we’re up to.

The printed magazine is therefore becoming more and more of what I always wanted it to be: an opportunity to create the kind of features on actors that inspired me when I first got into photography and were found in the pages of magazines like Life back in the day. The task, then, was to spend time with the artists and give readers a rare insight into the kind of people they really were, the type of insight that only comes if you break away from predictable, organised press access and instead get to do real stuff with these real people.

The response we have had to the first two editions of the magazine has been great. It seems that readers and industry insiders alike recognise that we are trying to create something different here. One studio executive went so far as to tell me, ‘Hollywood needs this’, by which I took him to mean that fans of film need to be reminded that the movie industry is made up of talented, complex, interesting, creative artists rather than “celebrities”.

brendan fraser, greg williams. hollywood authentic, greg williams, greg williams photography

One man who knows all about talent and complexity is this issue’s cover star, Brendan Fraser, Oscar-nominated for his extraordinary performance in The Whale, a powerful redemption story. Brendan’s own tale could in many ways be similarly described. From the early years when he spent much of his time wearing a loin cloth, he became a huge star and then gradually slowed down making movies. The reasons for his absence from our screens are what we discuss in the feature. And the way back he has found.

I asked Brendan to drive me around Los Angeles as a way of getting to know him, and he took me in a ’71 Chevy truck to some illuminating places, including the old Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard. It was raining, and the closed-down movie theatre proved quite the metaphor. We discussed struggles with body shape, big and small. Earlier this month, the internet rushed to support Sam Smith after trolls tried to shame them for their size. Perhaps Brendan’s role in The Whale will help to usher in a new perspective on body image. It feels like a pivotal moment to me.

If Brendan is emerging back into the limelight, then Thuso Mbedu is just starting out on her career and shining brightly after starring in The Underground Railroad and The Woman King. She is utterly extraordinary in both. In our new slot “The Breakfast Club”, we meet over a bowl of cereal to discuss the higher purpose that drives her forward.

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Greg Williams, Founder, Hollywood Authentic

There are many photographers who have inspired me to work the way I do today – people who managed to capture their subjects’ intimate moments. Think of William Claxton hanging out with Steve McQueen as he rode his bikes in the desert, or Edward Quinn in Sophia Loren’s room at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, or Dennis Stock documenting James Dean getting a trim in a barbershop, on his uncle’s farm or – of course – mooching through Times Square, huddled in his overcoat.

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ana de armas, blonde, venice film festival, hollywood authentic, greg williams, greg williams photography
Photo by Annick Muller

Which is why it was so great to get to spend a day on set with Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe and hang out in her trailer. It made me feel I was somehow accessing a piece of history.

And though the pictures the likes of Claxton, Quinn and Stock took back then have become part of history, they are as fresh today as they were when first published. Because they show us something that is rarely seen – the person behind the myth. Ironically, these images contribute in no small measure to that myth themselves, often much more so than any shots more officially orchestrated.

I have made it my business to build relationships with the actors that I meet and prove my trustworthiness to them, so I too can capture uncontrived and spontaneous moments. Often this happens over time. Though the images of Ana in this issue relate to her latest role – as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde – they are actually the culmination of a relationship that goes back six years; one in which I saw her grow from being a little-known Cuban actor at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, who didn’t speak English, to an artist who received a 14-minute standing ovation at this year’s Venice Film Festival for playing the most famous American woman in history.

Along the way I was with her in LA when she was cast in Blade Runner 2049, buying hot dogs and getting a salsa lesson in the rain (when I asked how she’d mastered the English language in a year, she told me that it was necessary ‘when your rice and beans depend on that…’). I was also by Ana’s side while she was making Bond, and then Blonde – and then Bond again when I returned with her to No Time to Die for her mesmeric and scene-stealing turn as agent Paloma. So when we ran into each other in Venice, where she’d come for the premiere of Blonde, we hung out for several days and I shot more pictures of her and interviewed her for this edition.

But Hollywood Authentic is not just about glamorous occasions and locations. It’s also about the stories that actors don’t often tell. Take Eddie Marsan, one of Britain’s most talented performers, with whom I spent a day visiting the Hackney streets he grew up on. We looked up his childhood friend, mentor and “babysitter” Emanuel, with whom Eddie used to go dancing. And suddenly we were back there, with Eddie and Emanuel doing their moves, like a couple of teenagers.

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Greg Williams, Founder, Hollywood Authentic