Hail To The King
Jaime King regrets her tattoos only in the middle of the night. “There have been times where I had to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning because I had to be on set two hours extra so they could cover them,” she explains with a laugh. “But that’s the only downside.” King—she of the “silky blond hair, the shining blue eyes, the perfectly imperfect teeth—has packed a whole lotta life into her 29 years. Born in Omaha, NE, she started modeling at 14, got her first tattoo at 15, and, over the next several years, walked runways around the globe, graced countless magazine covers, became addicted to heroin, kicked the habit, and dated her share of bad boys (most notably Kid Rock). She’s appeared in nearly 20 movies, including two with comic book legend Frank Miller: Sin City, in which she played twins Wendy and Goldie, and The Spirit, in which she appeared as Lorelei Rox.
If that weren’t enough to earn her a spot in the INKED Hall of Fame, the selfdescribed “comic book geek” appears next in the 3-D remake of the slasher flick My Bloody Valentine and in the Star Wars-themed comedy Fanboys (directed by her husband, Kyle Newman). She’s calm and funny as she lounges in her Los Angeles home with her two Shiba Inu dogs, Peter and Wendy (named after the Peter Pan characters), and tells INKED about her career and her next tattoo.
NKED: When did you get your first tattoo?
JAIME KING: I got my first one when I was really young—15. I got a fairy on the middle of my lower back. My girlfriend and I went and got them on St. Mark’s Place in New York. I’ve always loved tattoos. I’ve always thought it was another great way for people to demonstrate their artistry. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved art. So I thought, What’s the big deal? It’s just art on your skin. I told my dad that it was a fake tattoo when he saw it. He believed me at first. I leaned over and he saw it. I told him it was a stick-on tattoo because I was so afraid I was going to get into really big trouble.When did he find out the truth?
About a month later. He saw it again and I was like, I’m not going to get away with this story again. He was pretty mad, but he got over it. Then I got another fairy on my back next to the other fairy, and that was a bigger piece. That one I had done in Nebraska in Omaha, where I’m from. I’ve always been attracted to angels and fairies—anything mystical and magical. I love the idea that there are other things out there, other than what we see. Like something greater out there.
What’s the significance of the diamond and the spade on your wrists?
I saw a spade on someone’s Zippo lighter once, and I remember thinking it was such a beautiful symbol. I like the curves of it and the way it looked—so strong. I decided to get the diamond because it was another strong symbol. It wasn’t because I have a fascination with playing cards. I just like the idea of strong, symbolic things. One of them I got in Missouri during a road trip. And the diamond I got in London along with the “King” on my back. Then I have another one that my friend did. It’s a little jailhouse tattoo—a star.
Do guys try to use your tattoos to hit on you?
Dudes have given me some really bad pickup lines, like, “What does King mean? Are you the king? Will you be my king?” Lame! But tattoos are very fascinating. People seem to be very fascinated by them. I think people see a tattoo and they think they get a peek into someone’s private life.
Do you plan on getting any more?
I’ve thought about it, but as an actor, the downside of having tattoos is that you have to spend a lot of time in the makeup chair covering them up. There have been times where I had to get up at 3 o’ clock in the morning, getting to set two hours earlier than everyone else. So that’s my major hesitation. But I love this certain Emily Dickinson quote, and I’ve contemplated getting a tattoo of it.What’s the quote?
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”
Where would that go?
I have to find the right spot. Mine are kind of all over the place. They can’t be in obvious places. It’s always been that way. They have to be in places where I can respect the character that I’m playing. I’m happy
with what I have. I love tattoos. I don’t regret them. They’re part of me. They’re beautiful. They’re not perfect. They’re not like the amazing pieces you see in INKED magazine. [Laughs.]
Speaking of magazines, how many covers have you been on in your lifetime?
I have no idea! I’ve never counted. It’s very surreal seeing yourself on the cover of a magazine. People hold you in a different light, like you’re something greater, but it’s not true at all. You’re just a person.Do you have a stage persona that you take on when you’re doing a photo shoot?
No, not really. If anything, people skew what they see. They don’t really know you, but they write things about you on the Internet. Some of my friends get so bummed out, like, “Oh my god, they were saying the meanest
things.” But I’m like, “Dude, you cannot read that stuff.”
Are your partying days behind you?
I’m not a club person. That was really fun when I was 18, living in New York. I go out, but I’m low-key. I’m not, like, waving down the paparazzi, saying, “Follow me!” There are so many faux celebrities out there right now. All those reality show people are becoming famous. They’re on magazine covers, and paparazzi are following them, and I don’t really know what it’s based on. You’re not going to see pictures of me out at some club, spilling out the front door drunk.
Have you been scrutinized more because you’re one of those dreaded model-turned-actresses?
Yeah, totally. But it’s worked both ways. It’s helped me because people already knew who I was, but at the same time, looking a certain way has sometimes hurt me. There have been times when I was up for a role, and it was between me and someone else, and I didn’t get it even though they said I was a better actor. I remember hearing that they didn’t want to hire Cameron Diaz for Being John Malkovich because they thought she was too pretty. She had to fight for that role. But if anything, that’s added more fuel to the fire for me and made me work even harder.What’s been your most rewarding role to date?
A film I did called The Pardon. It’s not out yet. It’s a period film, a true story, where I play the first woman who was ever executed in the state of Louisiana. She was 23. She had a really traumatizing, hard life. What was so beautiful is that even though they killed her, she had become a better person through the mistakes that she made. I felt like I got to explore a lot of areas of the human psyche. It was fascinating. There aren’t a lot of great roles for females out there, which is just the truth. There are great male roles. It’s so refreshing to be able to play a role where you see a woman walk through fire or go through great challenges to become who she was meant to be. A lot of times female roles are the girlfriend or the arm candy or the hot chick. Would you be willing to “ugly it up” for a role?
Yeah. The character I play in My Bloody Valentine grew up in a mining town, and she’s kind of tragic, so I wanted her to only wear flannels and baggy jeans. Although at one point they were like, “Okay, you need to put on some tighter clothes.” Because I really did look like a little ragamuffin.
Now that you’ve made a few horror movies, are you less scared to watch them?
God, no. I don’t watch them. I don’t have the stomach for them. I had really bad nightmares while I was making My Bloody Valentine.
What’s the key to a great movie scream?
Screaming makes you feel really vulnerable, because you don’t want to sound like a pussy. I was more nervous for my screaming scenes than I have been for some crying scenes or sex scenes. I didn’t want it to sound lame. The key is it has to be guttural—primal.
Is there any truth to the rumor that you’re writing a graphic novel?
I am, with Frank Miller’s girlfriend. Frank is like my brother. My husband and I are very close with Frank. We instantly hit it off. I don’t know how much I can talk about it—it’s top secret. But it’s going to be awesome. It’s a very strong female character.
Please tell us Sin City 2 is happening.
It is happening. Frank Miller is writing it now and we should be doing it—I hope—within the next year.If you had to get a comic book character tattoo, what would it be?
You know what would be kind of fresh? Yoda. Or Frank Miller’s Batman—just the head.
Those comic book fans can be rabid. Have you had any memorable run-ins?
Comic-Con fans are the best. I feel like I’m with my people. You make films so people can enjoy them, and it’s so nice when you’re sitting on a panel and there are 10,000 people adoring you. All the cynicism, crap, shit, rejection, glamour, and illusion of the business melt away and all you see is the reason why you do what you do. It’s a powerful experience. And I’ve worked on a lot of things that have been comic books, and I just voiced the Star Wars series The Clone Wars.
Speaking of Star Wars, you appear in Fanboys, which was directed by your husband.
It’s a love letter from him to everything he loves. He’s loved Star Wars since he was a baby. He’s the ultimate fanboy. My husband and I have the time of our lives at Comic-Con because we can look at comic books, meet the artists, sit on the floor, and play video games. That’s how we live our lives anyway.