“Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liz Hurley weren’t shy about stripping off”

Photographer to the stars John Stoddart on working with the biggest names in the business.

John Stoddart Loaded
Catherine The Great Stoddart captured a young Catherine Zeta-Jones many times before she went to Hollywood. Image John Stoddart

He’s spent evenings in hotel rooms with barely-clothed actresses including Liz Hurley and Catherine Zeta-Jones, struck up a rapport with several James Bonds and photographed everyone from The Rolling Stones to Prince Charles… photographer John Stoddart naturally laments the good old days.

The Liverpool-born snapper, who recently held an auction of some of his best-known images, says they just don’t make stars, or indeed photographers, like they used to.

“Liz Hurley took her clothes off for me all the time”

“Photography now is so PC and safe and bloody boring,” he tells Loaded. “These days, no-one pushes the envelope at all. The crap that’s out there now? I wouldn’t want to do that anyway”

More than 20 of the acclaimed photographer’s intimate portraits went on sale at Stoddart’s auction, including some sensational Loaded images from shoots with Liz Hurley and Catherine Zeta-Jones from the 90s.

Bust and bust
Bust and bust A naked image of Liz Hurley she loves to loathe. Image John Stoddart

And according to Stoddart, the ladies knew just what they were up to when posing for the shots. He says it was Liz Hurley and a then-unknown Catherine Zeta-Jones who approached him to take some risqué images – and they clearly had aspirations on making it big.

“Word got out that if you wanted sexy pictures, but not top shelf stuff, then I was your man”

Stoddart laughs: “They were looking at Vanity Fair and these Hollywood starlets looking stunning and, because I was into that kind of imagery, they’d come to me to do their shots and say ‘I want to take my clothes off and look gorgeous’ or something to that effect.

“Word got out that if you wanted sexy pictures, but not top shelf stuff, then I was your man. I was never sleazy,” Stoddart points out, “I was very trusted.”

Liz Hurley
SOLD The image which was used in the very first edition of Loaded in 1994. Image John Stoddart

Indeed, the images of a young Hurley from 1994 caused a stir when they appeared in the first ever edition of Loaded Magazine that May, but Stoddart admits that the actress now has a love-hate relationship with the pictures.

“What was great about the shoot with Liz was that we just did it for a laugh really,” he recalls.

“Liz falls in love with it and then hates it and screams at me about it. She has a framed copy of it, so I don’t know why she goes through these phases of not liking it. She took her clothes off for me all the time.”

Young beauty
Young beauty Catherine Zeta-Jones poses. Image John Stoddart

Of his shoots with Zeta-Jones, Stoddart admits: “They were specifically shot to get her noticed in Hollywood. I thought she looked like Liz Taylor and we went along those lines. 

“I’m not saying I was responsible, but six months later, she was in a Hollywood film. She was the main one who came to me, more than Liz actually. She wanted that sexy image out there.”

John Stoddart Loaded
Soundest of the lot Pierce Brosnan is Stoddart's favourite star. Image John Stoddart

Stoddart’s form of photography has become a thing of the past in a PR-controlled and sanitised world of A-list celebrity, but there’s still a lot of interest in his past work.

“The over-riding reaction has just been people asking why we don’t see this type of photography anymore,” he sighs. “I’m still a working photographer, but I don’t do half the stuff I used to, as the market has disappeared.

“The hotel room is almost a signature backdrop to my work. Mainly because I kept getting asked to do shoots there, as A-list celebs wouldn’t want to leave their suite. I learned to work my way around them. It’s just a great backdrop for these kind of pictures.”

John Stoddart Loaded
The man behind the lens Stoddart with his image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Image John Stoddart

“The loveliest person I ever photographed was Pierce Brosnan,” he reveals. “He’s just the best of the Irish and such a great man. He’s one of the few actors left that will cross over the road and say hello to you. You don’t get the B-list lot doing that.”

Stoddart also photographed another Bond, a young Daniel Craig, but was a little less enamoured with him.

“He was a nice guy, but actors are probably my least favourite overall because they are just so serious and a little cool. Musicians on the other hand are pretty different and always entertaining.

“Photographers get on well with rock stars. Well, I always did.”

For more information, see John Stoddart’s website.

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Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1

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