VINNIE JONES IS A PSYCHO. It’s the nickname he earned himself as a pro soccer player, and if you had to pick just one word to describe the roles he’s pursued in his second career as a Hollywood bad-ass, “psycho” would fit the bill quite snugly.
The 43-year-old British expat first came to notoriety in the ’80s. Though his skill and heart on the soccer field were undeniable, it was his brutality that made him stand out. Headbutts and career-ending tackles aside, it was one very legendary act of viciousness that catapulted his name to the top of the sports page. During one match, Jones “distracted” an opposing player by grabbing the poor guy’s balls. A now-famous photo of the incident turned Jones into a soccer legend.
Years later, with his reputation as the quintessential soccer nutjob cast in stone, Jones was a logical choice to play a gangland brute in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. With a gift for timing that transforms innocuous dialogue into classic, quotable lines, Jones parlayed the bit part into a role in Ritchie’s follow-up, Snatch, and then into a full-fledged Hollywood career.
As Jones puts it, “There are thousands of pieces in the great big jigsaw puzzle to get where I am now.” That sentiment is directly reflected in his choice of tattoos. On one leg, an ink rendering of the Football Association Cup trophy celebrates Wimbledon’s 1988 win. When he took Leeds to the division championship in ’90, Jones had the team’s crest needled onto his other leg. The famous Wales dragon on his chest celebrates his run as that team’s captain. But, as in his life, the marks of soccer achievement are joined by those from acting. A famous quote from Lock, Stock has been etched across his back, while his trusty Desert Eagle .50 from Snatch has been replicated on the top of his left foot. “I think my last one is going to be the Capricorn sign on my right foot,” Jones says. “Well, everyone says ‘last one.’ It’ll probably just be my ‘next’ one.”
INKED: What was th first ink job you ever committed to skin?
JONES: When I was 15, I got a little swallow on my forearm because that’s what all the lads were having at the time. But as I got older, it was too small and looked a bit silly. So, I had the English rose put around it to make it look a bit bigger. But you know what? It still looked a little small. So, I had stars and sunrays and clouds put all around it. Now it’s my whole forearm. You’ve had several since then—got a favorite? When I did Lock, Stock, obviously everyone loves at the end of the movie when I say, “There’s one more thing. It’s been emotional.” So, I’ve had that written across the bottom of my back and everyone always wants to see that one. But my favorite at the moment is my angel.
Hollywood All-Starts Football Club : http://www.hasfc.com/