Robert Maxwell shows what a Normal Heart is in W Magazine
Larry Kramer wrote The Normal Heart after witnessing his community, the New York City gay community, ravaged by a disease that was largely ignored by the population and politicians of the era.
In many ways, the AIDS crisis was America’s first introduction to their gay population. Before this parade of tragedy, homosexuals were merely loud, over expressive deviants. Suddenly, bathed in suffering and death, America met the humanity behind those strangers and were faced with an uncomfortable truth: these are real people. A truth that America, as a country, is still coming to terms with.
Robert Maxell worked towards highlighting that tension with his recent spread in W Magazine. Robert got the two leads from HBO’s film version of the Kramer play, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer, in front of his lens. What he shows us is that tense humanity, a microchasm of the moment from 30 years ago.
What we see is a near-mirrored reflection of the roles they play in the movie. Mark, as the ferocious Ned Weeks, looks out with fire ready to pounce in defense of what he loves. Matt Bomer, conversely, is Felix Turner, facing inward as a figure with subtler, hidden energies. The composition is a shadow of their turns on screen, but it all happened effortlessly.
Robert describes his process by saying, “I tend to keep things really simple… I don’t think a whole lot about the shoot before I shoot.” He allows the image to come from the subjects, “I feel their personality and kind of try to take a cue from that.” What he got was a supremely natural look at two men whose experience got so close to their characters in the moment of capturing the photograph, that the distinction is purely academic.
Three artists come together and perform their fluent arts. Robert explains the alchemy by simply saying, “I don’t know how I do it, I just do it.”