Matt Smith

No, Matt Smith is not on Instagram, and no, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

“I love photography, I love taking photos, I love going to exhibitions, I love the idea of someone capturing the tiniest glance or look or moment and the intrinsic detail that it affords you, being a photograph,” he says. “But I find Instagram just a bit…it’s just not my thing. But then you miss things I suppose. But if you don’t know it’s there, you don’t miss it. I’m one of the few people who doesn’t have it, I find.”

Rather, Smith has nurtured an interest in more proper methods of photography, if you will, a result of his undertaking of the role of legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The 35-year-old actor brought the film, “Mapplethorpe,” to New York this past week for its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“I was sort of fascinated by him as a creature. And fascinated by his art,” Smith says. “And then what drove him to be the artist that he was; his relationship to sex, his relationship to New York, his relationship to fame, his relationship to his own family. How all of these different forces were working to create this very complex [person], mild-mannered and gentle in some instances and then sort of wild and fervent and quite selfish in others.”

Matt Smith in “Mapplethorpe.” 

The actor, most famous for “Doctor Who” and his portrayal of Prince Philip in “The Crown,” has been attached to the project for the many years it took to bring it to life; after meeting with director Ondi Timoner, the film disappeared for three years due to a lack of funding, before finally being made “by the skin of our teeth.” The result is a narrative that follows Mapplethorpe from his beginnings as a young artist living in the Chelsea Hotel with then lover Patti Smith to his ultimate death from AIDS complications.

“I didn’t really know much about him before, to be honest, but there isn’t quite the same consciousness about him in the U.K. as there is here,” Smith says. “I think he’s ingrained in the fabric of New York in a slightly different way.”

When introducing the film to audiences last Sunday evening at the SVA theater, Timoner noted the symbolic nature of the premiere being held so close to the Hotel Chelsea, where Mapplethorpe and Smith lived together, not to mention fitting that Tribeca was the festival for the world opening. Smith shared her sentiments.

“Quite pressure for it as well, I think — he’s a New York creature, someone who was born and raised not too far from here, and he sort of had that New York-ness in his blood,” Smith says. “That artistic edge and that edge of humor and that edge of personality and that edge of danger that I think only this place can create.”

Matt Smith

Matt Smith  Jenna Greene/WWD

 

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