Portraits by Alastair Thain -- ''Skin Deep'' shows celebrities as you've never seen them before

Alastair Thain’s portraits of glamorous icons do not so much polish the glossy surface of celebrity as cast an unforgiving light on it. ”I’m not interested in idealized beauty,” admits the 31-year-old British photographer, whose book, Skin Deep, will be published by Viking in October. ”I try to say something about the human condition — about alienation and sorrow.” Famous for showing no mercy on a shoot, Thain, as the accompanying pictures from his book show, gets under the skin of even the most protective subjects. His portrait of a bewigged Annie Lennox, who has made a career of appearing sexually ambiguous, is at once sensual and severe; his Anthony Hopkins, framed to focus on one glaring eye, captures the actor’s lurking capacity for rage. ”I got lucky with Hopkins’ picture,” Thain says. ”His cameraman had fallen asleep on the set and he was in an absolutely filthy mood.” Though his dramatically lit and shaded images are often shocking in the darkness of their revelations, Thain insists they are in fact only skin- deep. ”It’s difficult to say anything about anyone in a photograph,” he claims. ”They are really quite superficial.”