Photograph by Howard Schatz
Internationally acclaimed photographer and artist Howard Schatz has had his work featured in galleries, exhibits and museums around the world. He has also published over 17 books of his incredible work.
In his book In Character: Actors Acting, Schatz captures actors who are doing what they do best: acting. Schatz takes portraiture of actors into another realm altogether, by directing them in the development of specific characters.
For example, in the photograph above, actress Jane Krakowski was instructed as follows:
Left: You’re a finalist on America’s Next Top Model who is hearing Tyra tell the other girl she’s out—and you’re prepping to give your nemesis a ‘sincere’ hug.
Center: You’re a stand-up comic performing at a Toronto showcase packed with S.N.L. and HBO scouts—and your “lesbian chickens” bit is utterly tanking.
Right: You’re, like, 15, and he’s, like, 17, and even tho U have only ever said, like, “Hey” in the hallways, he’s just texted 2 ask U 2 B his D8 @ the prom!!! the prom!!!
Below is a small collection from the book along with the direction they were provided by Schatz (which are equally hilarious). Enjoy!
Left: You’re the office toady, having a dutiful laugh over your boss’s latest racist joke—and all too aware that everyone else at work hates you.
Center: You’re a Miss Universe finalist in the nanosecond between being named fifth runner-up and remembering to flash your best I’m-so-happy smile.
Right: You’re the school doofus, blissfully unaware that your having just been named prom king is a cruel, Carrie-style stunt by your classmates.
Left: You’re the new longboarder on the secret beach with the famous break, preparing for the onslaught from the territorial locals.
Center: You’re a suburban car dealer demonstrating in your three a.m. ad slot how much your customers $$$AVE when they come to you!
Right: You’re a Romanian gymnastics coach, exasperated at the failings of your 12-year-old star pupil, screaming, “You are imbecile!”
Left: You’re the secretary of state, suspicious of your Russian counterpart’s jolly assurance that his country will gladly commit 50,000 troops to the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.
Center: You’re an Academy Award nominee, keenly aware that a camera is trained on you, at the precise moment when you hear that the Oscar has been won by someone else.
Right: You’re a Peace Corps volunteer fresh from Yale, stepping out of a Land Rover at a refugee camp and witnessing starvation and abject poverty for the first time.
Left: You are a dedicated father who, with your wife, has just sat down to dinner with your 15-year-old daughter, who is defiantly announcing that she’s pregnant.
Center: You are a fashion designer on the morning of your big runway show, realizing that nothing in the collection is ready or fabulous.
Right: You are a blustering, pompous member of the British Parliament, giving a speech that is being broadcast on the BBC, and you’re thrilled at the sound of your own voice.
Left: You are sneaking a peek, in the middle of the night, at your sweet new boyfriend’s computer … and discovering e-mails to and from his three current “other” girlfriends.
Center: You are a Park Avenue matron, paying your husband a surprise visit at his office and discovering him on the couch in flagrante delicto with his secretary.
Right: You are a disoriented homeless woman being arrested for loitering.
Left: You’re a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike, watching as she takes a header on her first solo try.
Center: You’re the cat that ate the canary.
Right: You’re a man in denial, figuring that if you don’t listen to your girlfriend’s breakup speech she’ll stick with you.
Left: You’re a factory foreman with $200 riding on the game, watching your team’s placekicker muff a 23-yarder with 0:01 remaining.
Center: You’re a first-time skydiver, reacting to your instructor’s saying it’s your turn: “What? Can’t hear you! Sorry … what?”
Right: You’re in the back row of sixth-grade health class, exulting with your pal in the fact that your female teacher just uttered the word “penis.”
Left: You’re a child swallowing a spoonful of medicine that your mom promised would taste good, and now she’s telling you that if it didn’t taste awful it wouldn’t work.
Center: You’re at a social dinner with your work colleagues and their spouses, desperately trying to signal your partner to stop talking so freely about your shared sex life.
Right: You’re a bunny-level skier who has decided to try a black-diamond slope, and now, with no idea how to stop, you’re headed straight for a tree.
Left: You’re an ingénue actress, new to Hollywood. Your agent has just called to say you’ve been chosen for a role in a big movie … as George Clooney’s love interest.
Center: You’re a construction worker having lunch with your buddies on the street in front of the job, calling out to a sexy woman passing by, “Hey, hon, wanna see what’s in my lunchbox?”
Right: You’re a mid-level drug dealer with a big payment due to a Mob boss, getting the news from one of your street runners that he lost the big coke stash in, “like, a weird gust of wind.”
Left: You’re a man whose daughter has been missing for two months. You’ve been called in by the police to identify the body of a young murder victim. The sheet is pulled back … and the victim isn’t your daughter. Center: You’re a boy at a freakish carnival, watching a pierced performer munch live cockroaches.
Right: You’re a 14-year-old girl who’s just opened her 18-year-old sister’s bedroom door to find her having sex with her boyfriend.
Left: You’re a celebrity guest at a White House state dinner, forced out of desperation to finally confront the creepy “nobody” crasher who has been trying to catch your attention all evening.
Center:You’re a Kansas homemaker on vacation in Vegas, enjoying the stage show of the hypnotist, who has successfully programmed his volunteer (your husband) to quack like a duck.
Right: You’re in the fourth row of a high-school auditorium, watching as your 15-year-old daughter begins singing Annie Oakley’s “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”—and freezes halfway through.
Left: You’re a rookie cop whose sergeant is telling you that the boy you just killed was holding a cell phone, not a gun. Center: You’re a city kid using a telescope to spy on people in other buildings—and catching your math teacher in bed with your guidance counselor.
Right: You’re a presidential candidate at an epic meet-and-greet fund-raiser, holding that smile in
Left: You’re fresh out of the Yale School of Drama, desperately overselling Lady Macbeth’s “Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!” speech at a summer-rep audition.
Center: You’re a 13-year-old girl, seething as your precocious younger brother is heaped with lavish praise at an extended-family gathering.
Right:You’re a lonely woman with a stalker’s crush on a TV star, spotting him coming out of a restaurant andcertain that he is making a beeline toward you!
Left: You’re a broke, struggling screenwriter emerging from a pitch lunch at a Beverly Hills restaurant, just in time to see a landscaper’s pickup back into your borrowed Lamborghini.
Center:You’re a stoned, purely mercenary substitute teacher telling your third-graders, “Anyone who makes any noise while I’m resting will be sent home to Mommy in several little boxes.”
Right: You’re a nerdy 11-year-old video gamer surrounded by BlizzCon posters and fellow nerds, and you’re taking this particular session of World of Warcraft waaay too seriously.
Left: You’re a hyperkinetic eight-year-old drama queen at her birthday party, hearing that the clown has just arrived. Center: You’re a mom at your seven-year-old daughter’s ballet recital, watching her execute an adorably imperfect pirouette and an almost flawless curtsy.
Right: You’re a high-school senior whose parents are at work, just about to have sex with your boyfriend for the first time, when your kid sister bursts into the room.
Left: You’re the cornerman for a winded female boxer, desperately exhorting her: “She’s run away with your boyfriend! She’s kidnapped your kid! Get out there and kill that heifer!”
Center: You’re five years into a contented but sedentary married life, protesting to your wife, “I said you’re ‘Rubenesque.’ It doesn’t mean fat. It means … Rubenesque!”
Right: You’re a 10-year-old in a high-rise apartment, playing fetch with your fox terrier and a tennis ball—which has just bounced out the window, with your dog in full pursuit.
Left: You’re the surly 14-year-old son of a single mother, steeling yourself as she awkwardly, haltingly begins a belated and unnecessary “birds and bees” talk.
Center: You’re at your daughter’s college graduation, and the pretty classmate of hers that you’ve been secretly ogling has just said, “Mr. Lefkowitz, you can’t be 58—you’re too cool!”
Right: You’re the valedictorian of your high-school class, having just been introduced to give the speech of your young life—and your mind has gone completely blank.
Left: You are a hostage in a desert prison camp, overhearing your buddy being tortured in the adjacent room, knowing you’re next.
Center: You are a four-year-old boy at a new, “realistic” dinosaur theme park, getting a lick on the head from a 50-foot-long mechanical brontosaurus.
Right: You are a heroin addict begging your dealer to give you a fix, promising you’ll pay him later, really.
Left: You’re a geek flirting with a cheerleader, unaware that you don’t stand a chance.
Center: You’re departing the nursing home where your wife resides; it is your first visit in which she didn’t recognize you. Right: You’re a college basketball coach, on the cusp of an N.C.A.A. tournament berth, screaming at the referee, knowing that if you’re ejected, your boys will turn it up a notch.
If you enjoyed this post, the Sifter highly recommends: