Iconic Spotlight : The Assassination of Trotsky, by Eva Sereny

“We all knew she was going to be around, I’m not sure how we found out but there was a hushed whisper that travelled. I was there to take photos, so that’s exactly what I did.  She never seemed to mind me being there with my camera, I suppose she was well used to it. This was the only time I ever took photos of Elizabeth Taylor.  And she wasn’t even in the film.”

The Assassination of Trotsky, filmed in 1972, starred Richard Burton. “The director, Joseph Losey, was just off the set of The Go-Between, which was a real cultural success, so I was familiar with his work. A producer said to me, and he was rather a nice guy, why don’t I go and take some pictures as they were filming. He told me about Burton, but I was more struck by Alain Delon, who also stars in the film. He was very big at this point.

Elizabeth Taylor

“Elizabeth would come to the set to visit and my job was to get the shot, to get as much material as I could. She ignored me. She was too intent on him. I do feel she was happy-go-lucky, though, especially when there were animals around. I caught her laughing with a little rabbit.”

Although the film didn’t reach the same level of acclaim as Losey’s previous award-winning feature, the opportunity for Eva to be on set did lead to one of Sereny’s most memorable and famous photo sessions.

“It was on this set that I met Romy Schneider for the first time. DeLeon and Schneider had a very public relationship years before the making of this film. They did, though, remain on good terms but I believe this was the last film they ever did together. With Romy, I just connected with her instantly, and it was during the filming when she called me up on a rainy night to ask if I wanted to take some pictures of her. That series of images remains to this day as my most popular.

“For a long time, I kept prints and negatives in my cellar in Rome. A few years ago, I had someone helping me organize my archive and we went down to the cellar and, my god, it flooded. All those Trotsky pictures, they all got wet. I’m not able to find any of Delon. We saved as many as we could, but I still see the waterstains on the images.”

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