Writer, director, and producer Steven S. DeKnight had three simple goals: shave his head, learn to ride a motorcycle, and get tattooed. He’s done all three, and while they might seem like minor ambitions compared to his immensely successful career, it appears they were just as high on his to-do list.
DeKnight is the brains behind Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the Starz series that portrays the life of Spartacus as only cable television can, full of green-screen brutality, artful arterial splatter, and more sex than The Devil Wears Nada. Longtime collaborator with sci-fi sage Joss Whedon, DeKnight can also take some credit for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Smallville.
DeKnight was tattooed by L.A. legend Roni Zulu. “I love that guy,” he says. “As soon as I met him, I knew he was the guy.” It’s a nice coincidence that he lives literally right around the corner from Zulu’s shop. DeKnight started with his left arm, a birthday present to himself on his 40th birthday. Soon after, Zulu had covered both of his arms and a large portion of his back with striking swaths of black. DeKnight’s ink is powerful and unmistakably tribal. It took years for him to get a concrete idea of what he wanted. “I didn’t want to get an image that I loved because, quite frankly, there are images that I loved 10 years ago that I don’t now,” explains DeKnight. “I wanted something that was more of a feeling than an actual image.” The film buff in DeKnight pipes up a moment later when he admits, “I’ll be honest, I was highly influenced by From Dusk Till Dawn.”
If anything, being tattooed has helped his career. He’d always been conscientious when it came to dressing professionally for public events, but during the TCA awards, the higher-ups at the Starz network spotted DeKnight’s tattoos. “I remember them very delicately asking me, ‘Can you show your tattoos?’” He jokes, “It’s like my form of cleavage.”