Where were you when you first saw The Moment? You know, when Brad Pitt’s hand lingered on Jennifer Aniston’s wrist backstage at the SAG Awards? The moment that triggered emotional pandemonium and hopes for a Brad & Jen-aissance across the internet? Odds are, you were on your phone, staring at the images, scrutinizing their body language in agonizing detail.
Those photos you were zooming in on? They were taken by Emma McIntyre. The Getty photographer was not only in the room where it happened, but managed to capture the interaction—which lasted all of five seconds—with her Nikon D5.
This was McIntyre’s fourth year shooting the SAG awards. When she was tasked with covering winners on their way to sign posters or do interviews she was instructed specifically to look out for spontaneous run-ins between actors. A moment between Aniston and Pitt, a magazine editor friend told her, would be the celebrity photographer’s equivalent of striking gold.
So McIntyre kept a close eye on Aniston. As The Morning Show actress headed toward a gaggle of entertainment reporters, she noticed Pitt already backstage for his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood win, approaching. McIntyre hovered a finger over the shutter-release button and held up a Kobra flash modifier to create the perfect lighting. She sensed something big about to happen.
"Most times, photographable moments happen in a heartbeat, so it boils down to predicting where the best angle will be and of course making sure you nail the technical aspect because there are no do-overs," McIntyre tells ELLE.com.
Not that she needed one. "Aniston!" Pitt yelled out to get his ex's attention. She spun around, her vintage white Christian Dior gown remarkably uncreased. The two embraced, both smiling. As Aniston walked away, Pitt continued to grin and held onto her wrist for an extra half-second before letting go.
McIntyre wasn't the only photographer backstage at SAG, and she certainly wasn't the only one to capture their interaction. But she did have the most advantageous position.
"They easily could have just missed one another, but you always try and predict these instances and hope you’re positioned well to get them and depict the emotion, too," she says. "The moment happened so quickly and I had my camera to my face the entire time. You can see their reaction in the photos, it shows them celebrating, proud for themselves and for each other." They seemed genuinely happy to see each other, she adds.
As this went down, the sea of journalists, photographers, agents, and assistants surrounding them went into a "Black Mirror-esque technology trance," McIntyre says. "Everyone was recording it on their cellphones, I think everyone was a bit stunned."
When she showed the shot to an entertainment writer, he audibly gasped. "He goes, 'I need that photo now!'" she says. "I had heard that magazines were making requests from photo agencies for this pairing during award season and that they hadn’t been captured together in years. I wasn’t thinking about that, I was just trying to do my job and document any winners backstage. I learned afterward from friends that magazines had basically been trying to photoshop them together for years."
Aniston and Pitt were set up by their agents in 1998. They tied the knot two years later in Malibu, but called it quits in 2005, shortly after Pitt met Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now that the stars are both single, rumors have been swirling about a potential romantic rekindling. Since Sunday's wrist-grab, those speculations have intensified.
look I know Brad doesn’t deserve to have Jen again but this video of him watching her win a SAG award makes me want it to happen anyway pic.twitter.com/A3mdLtZZlh— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 20, 2020
But shippers be warned: Aniston "is not dating Brad" a source told People. "They are friends and happy for each other. They want nothing but happiness for each other. She is happy to have Brad back in her life as a friend, but that’s it."
At least for now.
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