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Matt Smith on playing Mapplethorpe: “Who knew that pictures of penises were so utterly compelling?”

Matt Smith will play Robert Mapplethorpe courtesy Gage Skidmore

The actor Matt Smith, known for playing Doctor Who and Prince Philip in the headline-hitting series The Crown, throws more light on why he’s playing the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in a forthcoming biopic. Speaking to the UK newspaper, The Observer, he says: “I did Mapplethorpe as an endeavour of, well a) he’s a fascinating character, and b) there’s something about his photos that is just… who knew, as a straight man, that pictures of penises were so utterly compelling? But they are! And you don’t know why.” The new film, scheduled for release next year, is directed by Ondi Timoner. Mapplethorpe died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989; his most famous body of work is the XYZ portfolios (1978-81), comprising gay sadomasochistic imagery and nude portraits of African American men.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, Digital