The question I get asked most frequently — about my professional life, at least — is: “What is she/he really like?” Friends, family, the parents at my son’s school … everyone wants to know what a celebrity is like in person. Are they polite? Actually funny? Shorter in real life?
Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to have interviewed and photographed some fascinating people, and I can report that Sting is mesmerising (and whip-smart), Victoria Beckham is shy and bloody hilarious, Eva Longoria advised me to tailor everything I own (including white T-shirts) and the legendary chef Alain Ducasse is the epitome of a gentleman (and shared with me his new-found love of tofu).
When you spend a day on set with someone, chemistry is so important. And by the end of T Australia’s shoot with the actor Elsa Pataky, it felt as if we’d been friends for years. I can tell you that this issue’s cover star is not only accomplished and beautiful, she’s as fierce as she is friendly. We traded stories about our children and talked fashion and fast cars. Elsa even taught me some Spanish — namely, how to tell the kids to hurry up and get in the car (to hear the magic phrase, check out the first instalment of the new T:TV series, “Teach T Something”).
At T Australia, we always like to be the first with a story; if we can’t be the first, we aim to tell it best. In this instance, we went with the latter. Elsa’s most recent film, “Interceptor”, has been getting plenty of press, but I knew we could do things differently. What I wanted was a shoot that would somehow capture Elsa’s formidable presence and show her for the feminine powerhouse she is (read: separate to that famous husband of hers).
And so I approached our stylist extraordinaire Virginia van Heythuysen with a simple brief: boss vibes. The accompanying profile, written by Helen Hawkes, is a beautiful sketch of the multifaceted actress who, at almost 46, has returned to work and is preparing for the biggest year of her career.
For this edition of T Australia, our Structure issue, we set out to dismantle our subjects in order to study the sum of their parts. It’s a broad theme that takes us from Elsa’s strategies for work-life balance to the DNA of a cocktail, reduced to three essential components. We examine the bond shared by watchmakers and architects, then abandon structure altogether in a fashion shoot defined by soft knits and fluid forms.
I find comfort in structure — in systems, routines and benchmarks — particularly so as we approach the halfway point of an unpredictable year. By the time the next issue launches (August 15), there will be more projects and acquisitions to announce, along with new appointments and brand extensions. It’s an exciting time, charged with possibility, and not for a single day do I take for granted the privilege of working with the team at The New York Times. But for now, I hope you enjoy this issue’s great reads.