Behind the scenes -- Brigitte Lacombe takes us to the sets of Marie Antoinette and snaps candids of a bald Cate Blanchett

Over three decades, photographer Brigitte Lacombe has documented the sets of directors like Martin Scorsese and Anthony Minghella. She takes us behind the scenes of some great moviemaking moments.

Director Sofia Coppola photographs Kirsten Dunst at Château de Pontchartrain, France, 2005
I was very happy to be on that set of because I’m a close friend of the costume designer, Milena Canonero, who is just this extraordinary legend. The entire visual style of this film was stunning. Seeing this French period moment and then capturing the contrast of Sofia is just exquisite. She’s this very slight, delicate, and modern fashionable character wearing a little skirt and a T-shirt with a naked girl pictured on it and text that reads, ”Hysterical Times.”

Nicole Kidman in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania, 2002
This was the scene with Nicole catching snowflakes, and it’s a tender and beautiful sequence. We were in a very small house. I am lucky because I shoot with a Leica camera and can move around, unlike a set photographer, whose camera is in a blimp [a bulky soundproof box].

Cate Blanchett in Tuscany, Italy, 2000
Cate had just shaved her head for the last sequence of the film, so I was really happy to shoot a picture — because, of course, this moment was not going to happen again. I had told her I would love to do a picture after she finished shooting. So she just looked to me after the scene ended, and that was that.

Uma Thurman, John Malkovich, and Swoosie Kurtz at Château de Maisons-Laffitte, France, 1988
The actors are on a break. The shot works well because the moment is partly in the period film and then partly contemporary. The shot captures the easy friendships that are made when all goes well on a film.

Jack Nicholson and director Martin Scorsese in Boston, 2005
We were in a huge warehouse and this was just a good moment between Scorsese and Nicholson, who were about to shoot the scene where Nicholson dies. It was 4 a.m. You have to really love being on the set of a film because it can be very long and tedious. And a photographer is the least important person on the set — at the time. But after the movie wraps, everyone is very happy to have the images, because you are showing them the moments they had no time to see when they were otherwise engaged.

Julia Roberts and Mike Nichols in London, 2004
Although I had photographed Julia many times for magazine covers and portraits, this was the first time I worked on a film set with her. She plays a photographer in this movie, but my work was not used as a model for her images. I’ve had my work in one film, Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering. My favorite film about a photographer? Blow-Up.

Gwyneth Paltrow, James Rebhorn, and Matt Damon in Venice, 1998
This is not really the moment that you look for on a movie set, because Gwyneth is looking directly at me. I knew her as a young girl because she and her family were very good friends with Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, who are old friends of mine. I worked on every film Anthony Minghella did. He was the most generous man, and I miss him very much.

Brigitte Lacombe (as told to Michele Romero)

Cold Mountain
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  • 155 minutes