The Hollywood Highlander – The Joyous & Utterly Spectacular Alan Cumming

I was at The Worx studio in Chelsea waiting to photograph the up and coming actor (as he was at that time) Alan Cumming, for the Sunday Times ‘Next Big Thing’ feature. I was wondering what he would wear when he rolled into the studio dragging a wheeled suitcase behind him. “Hi” he said with a broad smile  “I’ve come to have my picture taken by Clive Arrowsmith, is that you?”.

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There was something so fantastic about him that I immediately took to his warm and quick-witted personality. “What will you be wearing” I ventured and he looked at his large suitcase and said “Don’t worry I’ve brought some costumes with me”. Earlier I had made a desperate call to the stylist demanding some appropriate attire (kilts, sporrans, claymores and a selection of haggis, which I was reliably informed was not a type of hat) but she had not been able to get anything at such short notice.

I was so relieved he had come prepared and very curious. I said to my assistant “I wonder what (costumes) he’s brought with him” (while Alan prepared himself in the dressing room), “I bet it will be good as he was so fantastic in Hamlet at The Donmar Warehouse, although he seems far too cheerful to play Hamlet,” My assistant said “No, no he was absolutely amazing in it”

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I was bent over the camera, adjusting the lens for the exposure and instructing my assistants to make the final touches to the set when I felt my assistants whispered in my ear “He’s ready”. I looked up and there to my delight and relief was Alan in full Scottish regalia with the adaptation of a leopard skin kilt, Doctor Martin’s boots and a see through black net vest, bag pipes and tartan bonnet.

I said “Is this the new Scottish National Costume” “Yes it is” he replied and put his leg on a box and adopted what can only be described as a naughty, haughty, fabulous Scotsman pose. I said “Fantastic” knowing that this was the most dynamic, joyful and dare I say camp adaptation of the Highlander theme I’d ever seen and  completely up my street.

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After we’d made inappropriate jokes about bag pipes and Alan toyed with his instrument in a suggestive manner (which made us all cry with laughter so much I had to stop shooting) I indulged in the classic “what do Scotsmen wear under their kilts” interrogation. Alan said, “Mostly nothing, unless it’s freezing cold” He then returned to the dressing room and came out in what looked like a PVC kilt and a tartan trimmed Scottish beret. This was more fabulous than the previous outfit and at this point he was topless and his nipple piercing was on show..

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Rarely have I photographed someone who was such a total delight to photograph, principally because he was so completely comfortable with himself and in front of the camera. This is unusual for an actor as they can sometime be quite self aware and self conscious. Alan was just so open, so joyful and fun and didn’t hold back at all. I am so pleased his career as an actor has gone from strength to strength I knew from that afternoon that he would do great things. He just had that extra spark, that ‘it’, that cannot really be put into words and came across as very kind too. It’s great that he has done so much to campaign for gay rights and is now happily married. It’s also self evident that Alan just loves what he does, on stage, or on film he is having a wonderful time. Where ever you are Alan, it was a total blast to work with you. Come over for tea with your husband when you are next in London. Always Love Clive.

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Alan Cumming Limited Edition Poster (1/50)

Alan Cumming at his joyous best (1/50) Height: 57.47 Centimetres Width: 40.64 Centimetres Material: Premium Semigloss Photographic Paper Postage & Packaging £15.00 International £6.00 UK

£23.99

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