Janeane Garofalo has never been one to mince words. From the minute she danced awkwardly onto the big screen in the 1994 Gen X-grunge-angst flick Reality Bites, Garofalo cemented her reputation as a fiercely outspoken presence in Hollywood, a comedian-turned-actress who didn't look like everyone else and who would go on to choose her movie and TV roles as carefully as the jokes she spewed in her stand-up act.
Since Bites, in which she co-starred alongside the film's director (and her good friend), Ben Stiller, Garofalo has popped up in several TV shows (most memorably The West Wing). She's also had roles in nearly 50 movies, including the cult hits Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, Half Baked, and Wet Hot American Summer, and, most recently, the massively successful animated Ratatouille (in which she played the French-accented Colette). Off-screen, Garofalo has flaunted her liberal views as a regular on Real Time With Bill Maher and on a now-defunct radio show on Air America, which, aside from stand-up, she calls her "proudest creative experience." Even Garofalo's tattoos are political statements: She has "Valor," "Liberal," and "Truth" on various body parts.
We caught up with the 44-year-old actress, who, beginning in January, portrays FBI agent Janis Gold on the hugely popular Fox series 24. Even though she had just finished a rough-and-tumble day of shooting, she was game for any question lobbed her way. And as we've come to expect and admire, no subject-from why Dane Cook's not funny to her own forays into plastic surgery-was off limits.
INKED: How many tattoos do you have?
JANEANE GAROFALO: I think I have 14 or 15. They're all kind of splattered
about-mostly on my arms, some on my stomach, some on my legs. My very
first one was a star on my left calf. I got that because it was small and easily
hidden. I liked it and I kept going from there.
Do you have a favorite tattoo shop?
Yes-Dare Devil Tattoo on Ludlow Street in New York City. And one of my favorite tattoo artists is Friday Jones. She can come to you with her kit. She's wonderful. She's done some of my favorite pieces. She did the Rosie the Riveter on my right arm.
I really like the iconography. Although instead of the government slogan "We Can Do It" underneath, I put "Valor," from the phrase "A woman of valor, who can find? For her price is far above rubies."
Meaning it's very difficult to find a courageous person-man, woman, or otherwise. It's very valuable to be courageous, so I put it on my arm to remind me. I also didn't want a government slogan from the World War II era on my arm.
You also have "Liberal" on your left shoulder. What does that word
mean to you?
Being liberal is something to be very proud of. Over the last 30 years or so, the right wing of this country has managed to bastardize the word. They think it's something to be feared because liberalism equals progress and social justice, and Republicans and conservatives hate progress and social justice. Liberal is not a dirty word. It's not a pejorative.