Students at Pennsylvania's Albright college could not have imagined what they were starting when, in 1994, they invented
a game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Based on the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, the challenge was to connect
every film actor back to Bacon in no more than six associations. This grew into a website, a board game, a book and, for one
man in particular, an all-consuming obsession.
Photographer Andy Gotts has spent eight years and more than R1-million
trying to make the idea a photographic reality. He relied on the goodwill of his bank manager and the Savoy Hotel to take
portraits of 115 actors, including Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L Jackson and Kate Winslet, each linked to the
other through work, pastimes or friendship.
The 34-year-old bachelor described himself as 'married to the project'
and 'not far off the breadline'.
Gotts wrote 300 letters requesting actors to sit for him: eight months later, 299
had declined, but Joss Ackland said yes -- then recommended his White Mischief co-star Greta Scacchi to have her picture taken.
single person has bent over backwards to make this work,' Gotts said. 'I shot Brad Pitt at Shepperton Studios during the making
of Troy. He called George Clooney on his mobile then handed it to me: "Andy, it's George, I'm at my home in Lake Como. Pop
over some time and we'll set it up".'
So it continued, to Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, with each passing
Gotts on to the next star they knew.
The final picture was of Kevin Bacon, who has written the afterword to Gotts's
book, Degrees, published by Dewi Lewis Media on 6 October, with an exhibition at the Getty Images Gallery in London from 30
September to 29 October.
Copies of prints in the exhibition can be bought at Andygotts.com
, with all proceeds going to diabetes research.