Whether on a grand-tour TV show or in an architectural magazine, it’s not too hard to see what a famous person’s house looks like. It’s also, thanks to paparazzi and tabloid photos, easy to see a picture of a famous person. But it’s less easy to capture iconic cultural movers and shakers truly at home—in both senses of the phrase.
That’s what photographer and videographer Shaul Schwarz aims to do with a new series of videos for TIME, debuting today with Schwarz’s visit to the home of author John Irving. “The environment sets you up to meet a person you already know,” says Schwarz.
The photographer asks his subjects what they do when they’re alone at home, really relaxing; for Irving, that question revealed a room devoted to wrestling, the author’s version of what Schwarz calls an “away-from-the-world zone.” Not that it’s automatically easier to access that intimacy when you meet a person in his own space. “Even if you have a new friend and you go to his home,” says Schwarz, “it takes a little bit to break the ice.” But when it does break, the end result is an intimate look at a celebrity, tending more toward a Sunday-morning-coffee-with-a-friend feel than a red carpet one.
“The location is, at the end of the day, some kind of reflection of the person. It’s all a vehicle to show a different look at the person,” says Schwarz. “We all know you can tell a little bit about a person from where he chooses to live.”
Read more about John Irving in this week’s issue of TIME: The Wrestler
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