When it comes to wishing upon a star, Annie Leibovitz has far more influence than Jiminy Cricket. The famed photographer's reputation, combined with the allure of Disney, has sent a pop princess (Beyonce) to Wonderland, a soccer stud (David) to slay a dragon and an acclaimed actress (Scarlett) scurrying slipperless down a staircase.
Recruited by Disney to promote Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Year of a Million Dreams campaign, Leibovitz persuaded her famous friends to dress up as classic Disney characters. The first images in this ongoing series will appear in the March issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller, Cookie and The New Yorker.
"We started by looking at the classic stories —Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan," Leibovitz says in an e-mail interview. "We put 10 or 12 of the obvious ones into development. The people we got to play the central roles in the first series of photographs felt the way I did about Disney. They all grew up with Disney characters."
Because Cinderella is the favorite character of her 5-year-old daughter, Sarah, Leibovitz says, "princesses had to be dealt with."
Scarlett Johansson was the first A-lister to sign on. She plays Cinderella, dashing down a staircase with the castle aglow in the distance. The image was photographed on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on New York's Riverside Drive with Disney World's Cinderella castle digitally imposed behind her.
Leibovitz, who will soon dress another set of celebrities as Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and Little Mermaid Ariel, approached British soccer superstar (and new American import) David Beckham, with the concept of playing Sleeping Beauty's Prince. She asked the 31-year-old whether "prince" was an image he would feel comfortable portraying. Not surprisingly, David Beckham was game, and the image was photographed near a lake outside Madrid, where he had been playing soccer for the team Real Madrid. The castle superimposed in the background is from Disneyland Paris.