The American


“With film there’s still a lot that’s totally new to me,” says photographer-turned-director Anton Corbijn, who made his first movie, Control (2007), at age 52. “But when it comes to photography, I think I know more or less what I can do with a camera.” So it’s natural that Corbijn, best known for his portraits of such bands as Depeche Mode and U2, would turn to his Leica again and again during the making of his second film, The American, starring George Clooney as an assassin named Jack hiding out in Italy. Taking the photos—now the subject of a book, Inside The American, excerpted here—“was almost a relief from filming,” Corbijn says. The mountainous Abruzzo region, where The American was shot, provided a breathtaking backdrop for Corbijn’s moody, unvarnished images of Clooney and costars Thekla Reuten and Violante Placido. Even as Corbijn directs, he’s often thinking in stills. “We’re so good at registering narratives in films,” says Reuten. “But Anton uses the immense possibilities you have just with light and atmosphere to make an image that translates a character and situation. Not just any photographer could make a movie like this.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“The apartment we used was perfect in size and we made it look amazing. It had what estate agents call ‘lots of character.’ The metal bar George is holding is the one he uses for workouts, stuck in the doorway between rooms.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“Beautiful Thekla in the autumnal hills, resembling 70s Catherine Deneuve unintentionally.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“When we stumbled upon this petrol station restaurant building I realized we had just found my favorite location of the film. Part Hopper, part Wenders, part Americana, and used for a great scene.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“I enjoy shooting photographs through windows and that’s what this photo is all about, as I so loved this location (roadside cafe) with its outdoor toilet.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“Castel del Monte is a pretty deserted place for most of the year. I reckon 75% of the houses are empty bar 2 months in the summer, so George chasing a car on his scooter didn’t really wake up anyone at night.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“A bloody hello! We did 2 great scenes that day: Jack’s final drive from the village to the river and the walk in the path with the priest. This photo is taken just after the driving scene.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“Thekla hiding at this small but GREAT station near Sulmona.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“Violante during the river scene. We did takes from different angles which was very hard on her as the water was pretty cold but she made it look summery and easy.”

Photographer: Anton Corbijn

“Thekla and George and a very large gun.”