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Actor Edward Norton performs a number of pop-culture legends on this re-creation of the portray “Boulevard of Damaged Desires.”

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They’re the very first thing you see when “Saturday Night time Reside” comes again from a industrial break: These iconic celeb portraits, so daring and enjoyable and quirky that they nearly appear to leap off the display screen.

They’ve been a staple of the present since 1975, highlighting every night time’s host and musical visitor and setting the temper for the leisure to return.

“I like to think about it as a billboard of kinds,” mentioned photographer Mary Ellen Matthews, who has been answerable for the shoots since 1999. “It is simply such a possibility to showcase the host and their character.”

Matthews mentioned Tom Hanks is a frequent host who is straightforward to work with and as much as do absolutely anything. “I really like the absurd. And I really like a rubber hen,” she mentioned of this picture from October 2016.

For comedic abilities like Tom Hanks, it might be a humorous portrait of him carrying a briefcase stuffed with rubber chickens. For “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it might be a shot of him imitating Gene Kelly from “Singin’ within the Rain.” And for versatile actor Edward Norton, it might be him taking part in 4 pop-culture legends — together with Marilyn Monroe — in a re-creation of Gottfried Helnwein’s portray “Boulevard of Damaged Desires.”

Within the composite picture, seen at prime, Norton additionally portrays James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Elvis Presley.

“I assumed it will be nice for (Norton) to sort of dig into that and sort of play all these completely different characters, and he simply beloved it and we actually did nicely with that concept,” Matthews recalled. “Tom Broecker is our costume designer, and he is a genius and I could not do it with out him. … He actually, as he at all times does, helps make these items come to life.”

Earlier than turning into President, Donald Trump hosted “Saturday Night time Reside” in November 2015. His hair was a pure point of interest for one in every of his portraits.

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Matthews is continually pondering of concepts for her “SNL” shoots, whether or not it’s re-creating a well-known piece of artwork or simply taking part in off her topic’s public persona. She additionally retains issues versatile on set and lets the celebrities take an idea and run with it.

“It is an excellent collaboration,” she mentioned. “In the event that they’re passionate about one thing, it is enjoyable to work off of them, and I include greater than sufficient concepts that we will sort of undergo them and choose a number of or modify them. I normally come armed with tons and many issues to sort of bounce off of.”

Every week’s picture shoot normally takes place on the Thursday earlier than the present. Matthews has to provide you with eight or 9 portraits for every host, relying on the format of that week’s present, she mentioned. There are three portraits wanted for every musical visitor. After the shoot, a few day of post-production is required to ensure the photographs have the graphical therapy and colours they should “pop” for the dwell broadcast.

In the previous few years, Matthews has additionally began doing a number of animated stills as she builds on a convention that was began by her predecessor, Edie Baskin.

“I simply attempt to dwell as much as what she began and characterize the present and characterize the host in the best means and simply carry quite a lot of enjoyable into it,” she mentioned.


Dwayne Johnson

Air date: Could 20, 2017

“One other nutty thought I had,” Matthews mentioned. “I simply thought it would be humorous, nearly like a romance cowl, proper? He is using a white stallion and his hair’s blowing within the wind. After which it grew to become a unicorn someplace alongside the road. I am undecided the place. He was so splendidly sport to do it, so hats off to him.”

Alec Baldwin

Air date: February 11, 2017

Baldwin channels “Hamlet” in one in every of his many “SNL” appearances. Matthews mentioned he hosts so usually that she has a particular Alec Baldwin folder. “The whole lot goes in there when the concept strikes. And that appeared about the best one for the occasions.” Baldwin gained an Emmy for his Donald Trump impressions on the present.

Melissa McCarthy

Air date: Could 13, 2017

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The inspiration behind this picture was Diane Arbus’ picture of equivalent twins in 1967. “A really well-known picture, so we simply redid that one and (McCarthy) made it her personal,” Matthews mentioned.

Justin Timberlake

Air date: Could 9, 2009

“Only a completely different perspective, capturing by way of a bit of Plexiglas,” Matthews mentioned. “Tremendous enjoyable, clearly. (Timberlake is) at all times sport. He’s one other solid member, nearly.”

Louis CK

Air date: April 8, 2017

“We made him appear to be a Renaissance portray, which is so cool,” Matthews mentioned. The picture was animated through the present. “He seemed like a correct formal portrait and he had his glasses on, after which he picked up his hand and began rubbing his eye. It’s simply so humorous.”

Amy Schumer

Air date: October 10, 2015

The comic’s mischievous facet is seen right here, a play on the phrase “the cat that ate the canary.” Matthews mentioned: “I made a decision to make use of some places across the constructing and simply have enjoyable with what now we have. I sort of considered her as a bellhop, after which it simply grew to become an increasing number of with the birdcage, after which she’s swallowed a feather. We made it into this animation the place she spits the feather out. We had a lot enjoyable doing that.”

Likelihood the Rapper

Air date: December 17, 2016

Matthews remembers Likelihood “bringing huge power” to the shoot, and she or he made this collage of him leaping. “It is sort of enjoyable to play with a number of photos. I really like doing that,” she mentioned.

Girl Gaga

Air date: November 16, 2013

“That’s one in every of my favs,” Matthews mentioned. “I needed to have (the little piano) on set, simply to sort of play with. I normally have a bunch of props and a bunch of concepts, and that was one which I put in towards the tip and she or he sort of discovered that place. It got here out fantastically I assumed.” The wardrobe belonged to Gaga. “On the time that was positively a part of her look,” Matthews mentioned.

Will Ferrell

Air date: Could 16, 2009

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Understanding Ferrell is “any individual who actually is sport for lots,” Matthews caught him in the midst of a pair rows of daisies she made. “You may let somebody like him discover it, you recognize? Simply give them the overall thought. And that is clearly what collaboration is all about.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Air date: October 8, 2016

Miranda does his greatest Gene Kelly on this “Singin’ within the Rain” re-enactment. “We in all probability did that inside seven minutes,” Matthews mentioned. She mentioned there usually isn’t a lot time for these shoots, “and to essentially throw that collectively in a pair minutes exhibits all of the help that everyone offers to one another on this present to get issues performed.” A special-effects crew chipped in to get the rain going, and a props crew wheeled within the lamppost.

Paul McCartney

Air date: December 11, 2010

“That was an honor and a privilege and earthshaking for me to {photograph} somebody like him,” Matthews mentioned. “He did a musical rehearsal earlier than that and he performed and performed for everyone, after which he got here as much as my set and he was very candy and informed me immediately that his spouse was a photographer, which is clearly one thing I do know — simply sort of a technique to break the ice and make it simple for me.

“He did a John Lennon medley through the present and it was so completely produced as a result of the track ‘Give Peace a Likelihood’ ended and it went into that picture. It was simply perfection. What a poignant second.”

Mary Ellen Matthews has been the photographer for “Saturday Night time Reside” since 1999. She is predicated in New York. Observe her on Instagram.

Photograph editors: Brett Roegiers and Bernadette Tuazon



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