Inked In The industry
The Actor :: Justin Theroux
“Odi et Amo,” reads one of Justin Theroux’s tattoos. Taken from a poem by Roman author Catullus, it translates to “I hate and I love.” The quote doesn’t have any real meaning for the actor turned writer and director, but the experience does, as he got it when he took his younger brother for his first tattoo. “You forget what a big deal it is. He was walking by the mirrors, making sure it was straight, being kind of nervous,” Theroux remembers. “I could tell that he had a great buzzy feeling after he had it done. It was a fun bonding experience.” Theroux’s first, and one of his favorites, is a straight edge X on his ankle done by his own hand at 14. “It barely resembles an X now. It looks like a big, black splodge.”
After playing memorable characters like the evil DJ in Zoolander, the smoldering director in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and the tattooed Irish scoundrel in Charlie’s Angels 2, Theroux knows he can’t get tattooed wherever he wants unless he plans on spending more time in the makeup chair. But that hasn’t been a problem lately, since he’s been doing plenty of work behind the camera. Within the last few years, he’s directed Dedication, cowritten Tropic Thunder, and penned the script for Iron Man 2. His next gig is writing and directing Zoolander 2, which will pick up 10 years after the close of the original. But he’s not staying behind the scenes entirely. Earlier this year, he acted alongside buddy Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, and he will star as the villain Leezar in this fall’s comedy Your Highness. “It was filmed at the end of two years of having my nose to the grindstone of Iron Man,” he says. “It was great just to have makeup done, then get handed pages with someone telling you, ‘Just say these and try to be funny.’”
The Director :: Chris Weitz
There shouldn’t be anything amusing about a 9/11 tattoo. But in the case of Chris’s Weitz’s, there is. On the night of his 30th birthday, after a few drinks in Hollywood, this self-
described “square” New Yorker decided to do something he never thought he would do: get a tattoo. He wandered into a tattoo parlor near his house and got inked with the Yankees logo. Then, a few months later, he added a 9/11 tattoo as a tribute to the fire department of New York. “I told them to do the lettering NYFD. About 24 hours later, I realized the acronym is FDNY. Fortunately, there’s the NYPD, so I was able to have a different guy turn the F into a P and put FDNY just beneath it. Now I can never go to jail. That keeps me even straighter than I was before.”
Weitz may not be as square as he claims, considering he got his start producing and directing the racy teen flick American Pie. More recently, he was shoved into the spotlight as the director of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. “I wasn’t ready for the sheer intensity of the attention that was paid. When we got to Italy, there were thousands of people there just to see us work.” But Weitz is more than happy to be able to leave the crowds behind. “As soon as I’m five steps away from [the actors], nobody knows who the hell I am, which is fine with me.”
These days, Weitz is focused on his next directorial project, an intense drama called The Gardener that centers around an undocumented worker from Mexico who lives in East Los Angeles and works as a gardener for the wealthy while his son struggles against the pressure of joining a gang. Weitz, whose heritage is part Mexican, enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Mexican-American culture and is working with Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention group, to ensure that his film’s production meshes well with the local community. “The script is not exploitative—there’s not brandishing of guns or anything of that sort,” he says. And with Weitz’s storytelling abilities it’s bound to be powerful nonetheless.
The Producer :: Jen Gatien
Growing up in New York is all about staying out late, hitting the clubs, and causing drama. At least that’s what we’ve learned from watching Gossip Girl. For producer Jen Gatien, it wasn’t like that. Although she was raised from the age of 11 by her father, Peter Gatien, who owned such quintessential clubs as Limelight and Tunnel, her upbringing was fairly strict. “When I was about 17 he found out that I went to a nightclub and he was angry,” she says. “But he did say, ‘If you’re going to go to a club, would you at least go to mine?’”
After graduating high school, Gatien attended Columbia University, where she studied film and anthropology. “I didn’t know where I would fit in,” she says. “I bought a video camera when I was 16 and fiddled around with it using nightclubs as a backdrop, but I wasn’t a film geek. I didn’t even know what producing was.” After a few years working as a personal assistant, she tried to get a few projects off the ground. “Nothing came to fruition for me. It was definitely not at a good place in my life.”
Then came Hounddog. “The script resonated so much with me, and I knew I needed to work on this film. I was able to raise $4 million on my first go.” It inspired her to form her own production company, DeerJen Films. Its logo, a leaping deer, matches the twin deer Nalla Smith tattooed on her ribs in 2001. They symbolize not only her love of the animal but also her connection with her Native American roots, as her grandmother is from the Mohawk tribe, and the animal totem for her Gemini sign is, in some Native American cultures, the deer.
Since the critical success of Hounddog, Gatien has continued to raise funds for other well-received projects, including the upcoming project Limelight, which will address Rudy Giuliani’s effect on the New York club scene, and Holy Rollers, a film that stars Jesse Eisenberg as a Hasidic Jew who’s serving as a drug mule for ecstasy dealers.
While she’s not stepping in front of cameras anytime soon, she’s certainly a hands-on force behind them.
The Choreographer :: Fatima Robinson
The scene in Public Enemies when Johnny Depp dances with his love interest. The goofy cha-cha actress Isla Fisher does in Confessions of a Shopaholic. Club kids dancing in the background of a Miami Vice scene. “All that is choreographed,” explains Fatima Robinson, who runs her own dance studio just outside of Hollywood. Robinson got her start in film when director John Singleton spotted her dancing in a contest and put her in Boyz N the Hood as an extra. “After that, I just kept dancing and choreographing. One day, Rosie Perez told me, ‘You have to call yourself a choreographer, and you have to charge for your services.’”
Soon after that, she landed her first big job: Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video. “Working with him was very exciting but also a lot of pressure. But he made it very comfortable,” she says.
Though Jackson had natural talent, Robinson also knows how to inspire actors with two left feet. “If I feel like we’ve pushed it to the point where I don’t think I’m going to get what we need out of them, I’ll put in a dance double—someone who is doing the same thing that they’re doing. Sometimes that kicks them to be better.”
Many of her clients, however, get it right away: She has worked on music videos for the Black Eyed Peas, was instrumental in putting together moves for Dreamgirls, and worked with Aaliyah on all of her projects. If you look closely, you’ll spot an A on her wrist. “It was the same A that Aaliyah had on her arm. I got that after her passing,” says Robinson.
She also has a tattoo to represent the time she spent in Jamaica living it up in the dance hall scene, and one of an Ethiopian warrior woman. “I feel like all my tattoos I got when I was young and free—now I’m a mom and I have to explain things.” But that doesn’t mean she’s done with the needle. “I’ve thought about doing something to connect them because they’re all sporadic and spread out. If I go there, I’m going to go really extreme with it. It’ll probably be me in Tahiti or somewhere where I just break down and get a whole bunch of tribal stuff.”
The Stuntman :: Trampas Thompson
Trampas Thompson isn’t your stereotypical stuntman. Sure, he dove 70 feet down a mine shaft for National Treasure, but he also practices yoga on a semi-regular basis and has a large image of the Hindu god Shiva as Nataraja, which he drew, tattooed on his back.
Thompson, who loves Shakespeare and classically trained to be an actor, says he excelled in sword combat, stage fighting, and choreography. “I thought every actor was able to do the things I can do. But they’re not. And once it switched in my head that they’re not, and somebody had to do those things [in movies], my career took off.”
It’s Thompson’s adrenaline-fueled life that actually led him to find peace—and his back piece. After breaking both of his legs skydiving, he moved to Ireland and studied animation. “I found myself wanting to do things instead of drawing them, and yoga was how I was able to find a physical practice again,” he says. “It quickly became very spiritual for me,” and eventually led to his Shiva tattoo.
“I went into Sacred Movement Yoga in Venice to buy a shirt. When I walked in, there was a statue of the Shiva Nataraja. In an instant, everything changed and I made an appointment.” He put himself through a ritual that involved fasting before the tattoo experience, which took a total of 20 hours to complete—longer than the time it took to get his first tattoo, a black tribal sun.
Now he’s busy sketching his next design: a samurai fighting the demons of ego, desire, and fear (though he says the fear isn’t connected to his stunt work). “People see what I do and go, ‘Oh my God, I’d be terrified.’ I’m not. I have a healthy respect for it, but I can do it.” In addition to respecting and enjoying his craft—which has included sword fighting with Johnny Depp—there’s the bonus of seeing the world, as he did while filming Pirates of the Caribbean. “When I watch that movie, other than the parts where it’s clearly me, I’m like, ‘I was climbing a volcano that day,’ or, ‘That was one of the days I was scuba diving.’” Where do we sign up?