Heroes & Villains
Over a period of 50 years Steen photographed cultural icons from just about every walk of life - from the rockers (The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pete Townshend) to the rollers (Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart) to other artists in all fields (Robert Redford, Stephen Spielberg, Somerset Maughan, Nureyev) and politicians, sportsmen and entrepreneurs (Harold Macmillan, Graham Hill, Brian Epstein).
Sean Connery was a favourite, and Lee Marvin reportedly the most fun assignment. Steen has played his ukulele in duet with Peter Sellers; suffered mad days and nights with Oliver Reed; fished with Charlie Chaplin; was privy to the inner sanctum of Harold Macmillan's lonely bedroom; lived with Rod Stewart in Los Angeles and celebrated in Rio with Ronnie Biggs.
Ringo Starr, Allen Klein - Almeria, Spain
Ringo was becoming known for character spots in feature films, in Blindman as a vicious kidnapper - he had tired of playing lovable characters. In this jokey off set cameo, producer Allen Klein, the sharp-talking American lawyer brought in to manage The Beatles' finances and take over management of Apple, holds a gun to Ringo's stomach. The matey relationship was already doomed - The Beatles were to fall out over Klein's appointment. In 1971, Paul McCartney had already instituted High Court action against him.
Charlie Chaplin - Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland
This shot always makes me smile, it reminds me of my trip to Ireland. I had flown into Shannon Airport at 4am and the hire desk didn't open until 7am. The place was empty, chairs on tables; I had a long, boring wait ahead of me. I needed an Irish coffee. The lone waiter, who was sweeping the floor, took the order and disappeared for some considerable time. He eventually returned and placed a large tumbler full of neat Irish whisky in front of me. 'What's this? I asked for an Irish coffee,' I said. 'And so you did, Sir,' he replied. 'Trouble is, the coffee's cold and the fucking cream is off.' Don't you love the Irish logic!
And so I came to be sitting in a boat with Chaplin. Every year he would stay at the The Butler Arms Hotel in County Kerry to indulge his passion for fishing, sea, river and lake (where this was shot). The photograph was taken holding the camera up over my head, cutting the land out of the top of the picture. It was a bitterly cold day and Chaplin was showing off his cashmere jacket, my first awareness of cashmere.
Peter O'Toole - Hampstead, London
Say Peter O'Toole and the other person thinks Lawrence of Arabia and vice versa. In fact it was due to Albert Finney turning it down that the part was offered and O'Toole, already a highly regarded actor, was catapulted into the ranks of major international stars. ('If you'd been any prettier,' Noel Coward told him, 'it would have been Florence of Arabia.') More work followed but it was difficult to avoid comparisons and there was a period in the Seventies when his career slumped. For most people O'Toole was Lawrence, but it wasn't until 1982 that he actually watched the entire film, on a hotel television in Amman, Jordan.
He has a reputation for good quotes. Such as: 'I have no intention of uttering my last words on the stage. Room service and a couple of depraved young women will do me quite nicely for an exit.'
Sean Connery - County Wicklow, Ireland
Sean was making the movie Zardoz, directed by John Boorman on location in County Wicklow. There wasn't much to do in the evenings except for the existence of a spacious snooker hall containing some 30 tables.
John Alderton, also starring in the film, suggested a knockout snooker contest, the prize a magnum of champagne donated by him. He was known to be a good player with his own snooker table at home so possibly he figured it was likely he wouldn't be presenting the prize to anybody but himself. The competition commenced. It came down to the last table, John Alderton versus Sean Connery. The lights were dimmed except for the one above the centre table and the crew stood around to watch the final. This was to be the best of three. Sean, who likes to win, won the first game amid absolute silence. It got to the second game, clearly Sean was winning again, the atmosphere was tense. John stopped play, 'It's only a game,' he said, 'You didn't think I was serious did you?' Sean ignored him, put his head down and won the second game. A local photographer was there to record John presenting the magnum to Sean.
Richard Harris - Malta
Like a few of the guys I have photographed, Richard was a heavy drinker and you had to keep up with him. If he asked, 'Do you want a drink?' you couldn't ask for lemonade, better you just had what he was having. I found him in one of his moods where he was adamant that he didn't want to be photographed. Well, when you've flown all that way to photograph somebody and the somebody says forget it, you're not happy. The days passed and I was due to fly back to London in the evening and I still didn't have any photographs and was starting to panic. At about three o'clock in the afternoon Richard eventually came around and said, 'Come on then...' and I got my session with him and Ann on the beach. It was such a relief. That's the sort of guy he was, unpredictable.
Brian Epstein - The Cavern Club, Liverpool
Brian Epstein worked at his parents' music shop in Liverpool. In those days every young boy wanted to play the guitar and copy the rock musicians so the shop was busy and successful. I wanted to photograph The Cavern where the live music was and Brian and I spent the evening there. I don't know the name of the band in the background but it wasn't The Beatles. Youngsters could play as loud as they liked, this place was literally a cave made form solid rock.
John Cleese - On Haystack, England
John was filming Clockwise and I was up against the problem of trying to avoid any aspect of the movie itself in the photograph. The scenes, the lighting, the drama had been perfected by somebody else; for me to borrow some of that is a bit of a cheat. Knowing John Cleese has a great sense of humour, knowing he won't object to looking absurd on a haystack, I went for the fun shot. He's a great clown.