by Karen Hardy Bystedt
Want to interview Brad Pitt? You’ll have to fight through a fire wall of agents, managers, publicists and maybe an image consultant or two. Of course, even the most inaccessible stars were once nobodies dying to pour themselves into the nearest tape recorder—precisely the vulnerable state in which Bystedt snared some of today’s most elusive actors.
A Los Angeles photographer and author (1988’s The New Breed: Actors Coming of Age), Bystedt encountered future celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp and Christian Slater while hobnobbing on the New York City and L.A. social scenes of the late 1980s. Bystedt’s photos aren’t very distinctive, but she did capture the raw yearning that comes with ambition in some of her interviews, particularly her 1989 session with Brad Pitt, who showed up after doing eight loads of laundry to gripe that “the good roles are going to people like Sean Penn because he’s in a good position now.”
Mostly, though, Bystedt shows that actors can be as vacant before celebrity as they often are after it. Keanu Reeves in 1987, for instance, produced this observation about his role in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “That was an experience of having fun and working and trying to do it and hopefully succeeding.” Sometimes overprotective publicists aren’t such a bad idea. (General Publishing, $17.95)