British photographer Greg Williams lifts the veil on the private lives of celebrities in his candid, cinematic shots of Hollywood royalty like Johnny Depp, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tilda Swinton beyond the glitz and glamor of the silver screen. Last week, as part of his #artofbehindthescenes series, he was the sole photographer to cover the 72nd Venice International Film Festival by offering fascinating glimpses of filmmakers, actors, and actresses off the red carpet. In between screenings and press conferences, Williams captured intimate shots of A-listers as they laughed, talked, and relaxed in cars, hotels, and boats on the Grand Canal. “My favourite part,” he told us regarding his unique experience, “was using my 20 years of experience and relationships, along with a bit of nerve and a good dose of luck, to be the only guy in the boat.”
The photographer's dramatic style of composition and lighting were shaped by his background in reportage and motion film. “From my early days as a photojournalist, I was always obsessed with the Magnum on-set photos from 1960s Life Magazine. I am trying to capture moments that are reminiscent of the golden age of cinema,” Williams, who covered the conflicts in Burma, Chechnya, and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, shared with us via email. “Today, much of my work is in advertising, but my background in photojournalism taught me about capturing decisive moments. The work I did in film influences the cinematic way I shoot.”
Above: Stanley Tucci and Mark Ruffalo at the Gritti Palace on the Grand Canal before attending the screening of Tom McCarthy's Spotlight.
Eddie Redmayne before boarding the boat to The Danish Girl premiere.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and Josh Brolin on their way to the premiere of Everest, the opening film of the festival.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brent Morley, and Jason Clarke eat spaghetti while heading to the Everest press conference.
Festival juror Elizabeth Banks heads for the red carpet of the Black Mass premiere.
Amber Heard waits for husband Johnny Depp at his premiere of Black Mass.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on the boat home.
Felicity Blunt with Stanley Tucci and Tom McCarthy on their way to the Spotlight premiere.
Jake Gyllenhaal headed to watch Everest open the festival.
Mark Ruffalo and wife Sunrise Coigney on the Grand Canal on the way to the screening of Spotlight.
Coffee and phone in hand, festival juror Elizabeth Banks walks down the hotel hallway to the Black Mass premiere.
Dakota Johnson outside for a breath of fresh air at the afterparty for Black Mass.
Jake Gyllenhaal at the hotel after the press conference for Everest.
Amber Heard in between interviews for The Danish Girl.
Hannah Redmayne and Eddie Redmayne arrive at the premiere for The Danish Girl.
Tilda Swinton on the plane home the day after the screening of Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Greg Williams.