Feature: Top 20 Celebrity Photos of 2018, by Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com

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Star 5. Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan of ‘Wildlife’
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Since her Oscar nominated role in “An Education,” it’s been British actress Carey Mulligan that has been schooling her rivals by consistently burning up both the stage and screen. In 2018, she gave another scorching performance in “Wildlife,” as a woman left to simmer along with her son while her husband leaves them to go off fighting fires. Mulligan delivered a painstaking performance as a woman raging out of control, which mirrored the dangerous conflagrations burning down the homes that her husband had left to save. The actress has always preferred the dark and often tortured roles, and selects them as if she is agonizing over if she can stomach one of her rivals possibly playing it better. But few ever could, as she has become comfortable embracing the uncomfortable, and in that case just may be the best actress of her generation.

I photographed her on the ‘Wildlife” Red Carpet, as she literally came straight from the airport after a delayed and harrowing redeye flight from London, that had lasted 12 hours. She immediately apologized for her tardiness, and stepped on her mark, but after two photo flashes asked if we could stop so that she could apply eye drops to her burning eyes, and take some aspirin to relieve her splitting headache. She excused herself from the Red Carpet, her eyes welling with tears, but she promised to return. Her handlers escorted her to the nearby Green Room lounge so she could regroup. In her absence, I remembered that the notoriously shy and media averse actress had once described standing in front of a photographer as a personal nightmare, so I repositioned myself about six feet off her mark. When she returned about ten minutes later for the second attempt, I immediately greeted her with “Better now?” As she smiled with her eyes in response, “click-boom” I got the shot I wanted, even before she could even return to her mark. Sometimes the photographer’s role is to help take the subject out of their tortured minds, if only for the necessary moments, and sometimes a “Mulligan” becomes a game winning shot.

LOCATION/DATE: Chicago International Film Festival Red Carpet, October of 2018.

Star4. Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Ethan Hawke has often been referred to as a modern renaissance man. He wears many hats, including actor, screenwriter, best selling novelist, director and musician… he also cleans up pretty nicely for the camera. Hawke was honored with the “Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award 2018” for career achievement, and it was there I photographed him for the third time. And you know what they say…

He was named Best Actor by the Chicago Film Critics Association and others for his performance as Ernst Toller – a reverend struggling with his own faith in the film “First Reformed” – and Hawke just might earn his fifth Oscar nomination. He also directed last years “Blaze” the biography of the late country singer Blaze Foley. Win or lose, Ethan Hawke has long made us believers, and to quote one of my girlfriends… “This close up portrait is like a gift from baby Jesus.” Hallelujah!

LOCATION/DATE: Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award Red Carpet, Chicago, June of 2018.

Star3. Viola Davis

Viola Davis
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

When Viola Davis’ picture graces the cover of TIME magazine, and Meryl Streep writes in the article inside that Davis has already carved her face into the 21st Century actor’s Mount Rushmore, chances are Davis chose her career wisely. Viola Davis is one of the rare artists that have won the triple crown of acting with the Oscar, Emmy and not one but two Tony Awards.

Her director for the 2018 film “Widows,” Steve McQueen (himself an Oscar-winner for “12 Years a Slave”), compares Davis’ on-screen talent with such Hollywood legends as Marlon Brando and another Davis, Bette Davis. In the opening scenes of “Widows” not only has that other Davis stolen the heart of her onscreen husband (Liam Neeson), but in real life – taking a page from Liam’s actor playbook – she is indeed getting away with murder by killing it onscreen and taking all the loot, as she portrays a latter day and unconventional action hero. Also, her speech at the 2018 January Woman’s March echoed her character in “Widows,” as it not only spoke, but actualized, her truth to power. Amazon Studios, in late November, signed an ongoing deal with Davis’s JeVee Production Company. Look for her series “Troupe Zero” in 2019, as she continues to roar and to “take” what she has so rightfully earned.

LOCATION/DATE: Chicago International Film Festival Red Carpet, October of 2018.

Star2. Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

The year 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of “Schindler’s List,” which featured actor Liam Neeson. The Oscar winning Best Picture of 1993 (one of seven Oscars it won) is not only considered Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, but one of the most historically significant films of all time. Many critics argue that the film has risen beyond just the scope of cinema… as it has long become required viewing in many high school history classes. Yet Liam Neeson, in another crime against humanity, lost the Best Actor Oscar that year to Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia.”

But Neeson has always been an actor possessing… “a particular set of skills, skills he’s acquired over a very long career.” Following the tragic death of his wife Natasha Richardson in 2009, Neeson managed his grief by working as much as possible, taking on roles he might have said no to previously. The success of the film “Taken,” and the roles that followed based on its success, transformed his onscreen image from a professional art house brooder to Hollywood’s most reluctant action hero. Neeson classed up the genre with legitimate acting chops, one throat punch at a time.

He’s now eligible for AARP, but this Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal recipient and fighting Irishman shows no sign of slowing down. Long on MY want-to-photograph list, I managed to capture the six-foot-four cinematic badass with his “Irish eyes a smilin’” at the Chicago International Film Festival premiere of “Widows”… a film where his character uncharacteristically bites the dust. His next body count revenge romp, “Cold Pursuit” opens next month on February 8th. Coming in ranked at number two, this kick ass portrait was something our readers were quite TAKEN with.

LOCATION/DATE: Chicago International Film Festival Red Carpet, October of 2018.

Star1. Carol Burnett

TV Icon Carol Burnett
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

If Carol Burnett isn’t the very definition of what a legend is made of I don’t know what is… in fact, four days ago on January 6th, the 85-year-old Queen of Comedy was awarded The Golden Globes inaugural “Carol Burnett Award” the new top honor for career achievement in television. She already is the recipient of five Golden Globes, seven Emmys, a Tony Award, a Grammy, a SAG Lifetime Achievement, a Kennedy Center Honor and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Burnett, as the first women host of a skit variety show (one that won 23 Emmys in its run), is at the point in her career when the entertainment industry is forced to create new honorary awards just to bestow upon her.

Unbeknownst to even Burnett, she has also obtained the rare honor of being the only celebrity my mother seemed genuinely interested in… enough to press me for the details about my experience photographing her. Then I remembered as a kid “The Carol Burnett Show” was the only show she cared enough about to watch and truly enjoy.

My experience photographing the legend consisted of two clicks of the shutter backstage before her show at the Chicago Theatre. It took literally the time required as a successful ear tug, which I promised myself I wouldn’t ask her to do. Photographing her longtime partner-in-crime and iconic costume designer Bob Mackie just the week prior (for “The Cher Show”) was no doubt instrumental in winning her approval… she attended his final dress rehearsal of that show, which was just down the street, the very next night. Sometimes the key to a great photo is less about technical skill and more about successful social networking. When the art of photography is built on flashes and shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or less, I was just so glad we had this time together. That’s all it takes for a photo to last forever, along with the memory.

LOCATION/DATE: The Chicago Theatre, June of 2018.

StarThe One That Got Away… Cher

In September of 2017, when it was announced that “The Cher Show’ was going to premiere in Chicago the following summer, and I was giddier than any straight guy should probably be. I had photographed her once before in 1998 and was hopeful and quick to “Believe” that if I could get to the show costume designer Bob Mackie first, I might have another shot. Eight months later I would photograph both Mackie and the three actresses playing Cher but the “Dark Lady” was too busy filming “Momma Mia: Here We Go Again” to make the show’s press day. Mackie did help pave the way to my years biggest photo with his other BFF, Carol Burnett, but I had my heart set on pulling off a major photographic hat trick.

Naturally Cher flew in “Just like Jesse James” completely unannounced and under the radar. She attended the Sunday afternoon matinee during the Gay Pride weekend – when her primary distracted fan base wasn’t looking – and not a publicist was working. Seated in the third row, she was escorted in and out from backstage. And to pour salt into my wound, she would walk the Red Carpet at the Los Angeles premiere instead, patiently posing for every camera. My luck sadly didn’t prove “Strong Enough” and I was forced to hum Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” at the end of 2018 instead of a victorious “I Got You Babe.” Alas… “If I Could Only Turn Back Time,” but a New Year has arrived and “Still The Beat Goes On.”

RIP to this list of the following celebrity subjects, who I had previous worked with, and that we sadly lost in 2018 (Click the highlighted link for the photo and article where applicable), Barbara Bush, Bill “I Dream of Jeannie” Daily, Steve “Friday the 13th Part 2” Dash, Aretha Franklin, Margot Kidder, Stan Lee, John Mahoney, Penny Marshall, Senator John McCain, Burt Reynolds, Verne Troyer, Scott “The Walking Dead” Wilson and my mentor Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

To directly access the portraits of photographer Joe Arce, of Starstruck Foto and HollywoodChicago.com, click here.

© 2019 Joe Arce, HollywoodChicago.com

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