It was always my intent to shoot somewhere on Sunset Boulevard as part of our American Road trip series. It is such an iconic stretch of road that has played host to Hollywood stars and their cars for generations. The stretch heading west from Chateau Marmont to the Sunset Plaza is a rich feast for filmmakers, framed on either side with enormous billboards. Sunset Boulevard takes people on their own American dream – it is difficult not to feel energised when driving on it.
But it is far from easy to photograph here – it is a busy highway and the only time it can be closed down for filming tends to be early on a Sunday morning. Furthermore, to be able to use wolves in the car – integral to the theme of the series – West Hollywood was out of bounds as they do not allow the use of exotic animals in outdoor filming. Hollywood, however, does and the boundary line is right by Chateau Marmont.
To an extent, this made our choice of location relatively straightforward. Including the Chateau billboards or the Chateau itself would locate the image emphatically. The Castle On Sunset, as it is now affectionately known, is notorious – conjuring up imagery of sex, drugs and general bad behaviour. This is not a place that lends itself to reserved or quiet weekends. I saw a narrative that played to this reputation – and this demanded a frame that was both suggestive and sexy.
Alessandra Ambrosio is synonymous with the Victoria’s Secret brand. The Brazilian model has been pivotal to their shows and campaigns for years and I was delighted that she agreed to work with me. As always, I want to thank my dear friend Ed Razek – who helped make this possible. Alessandra is a stunning woman and very suited to the 1970’s look we styled her in.
The wolves were not easy to work with and we only had a limited opportunity between sunrise and 10 am when our permit expired. It was a morning of thinking fast and reacting to circumstances as we found them.
The end result is hopefully playful and sexy. What wolf wouldn’t want to arrive with Alessandra at the Chateau?