Interview with Leon Gast

  • The first question people have when they hear the title is: what is Smash His Camera all about?

  • Well, it's something that Jacqueline Kennedy allegedly said to one of her bodyguards after Ron Galella (the subject of the film) had been photographing her.�

  • There are many people who have covered celebrities over the years. What made Ron an icon in this business?

  • He was looking for the off-guard picture, but he wasn't looking for the sensational picture. He's taken about three million pictures. Five are in MoMA. When I looked at his contact sheets, you could see that Ron was aware of his framing. He was an artist. That convinced me that he wasn't the sleazebag he was labeled to be.�

  • If you were to choose one image for a time capsule to represent Ron, which would it be?�

  • That's very difficult, but I think most people would say the windblown shot of Jackie Kennedy crossing Fifth Avenue. The light is perfect behind her. The wind is blowing and she turns and she's got a Mona Lisa smile. And he says in the film, "I jumped in a cab. I followed her. The cab driver blew the horn. She turned. She smiled. I don't think she knew it was me." That pretty much sums up one layer of their relationship.

    Ron really believes that he has a moral right to do what he's doing. He is very serious about his work. He still goes out on the red carpets. He's got a new book coming out. So when he's not shooting, he's in the darkroom with his negatives. He mixes chemicals. He still makes prints himself. He thinks it's heroic, what he's doing. And, fifty years from now, we'll see.