Here's the Problem with Actors Getting Tattoos

It is a common lament among actors that typecasting sucks. "I want to be dramatic," cry the men, "and Hollywood only wants me to be funny!" "I want to be a homely character actress," cry the women, "yet studio executives cannot see past my breast implants and perfume ads to cast me in any other part besides the love interest!" Truly, it is a sad thing when a performer cannot flex his or her muscles by disappearing into a wide variety of roles, for it is channeling that vast diaspora of human experience that makes an actor great.

So stop getting so damn many tattoos, actors.

Here's the problem with actors getting tattoos: We can put a man on the moon, yet we cannot come up with makeup that skilfully obscures an actor's tattoos in today's age of HD, IMAX, and Blu-Ray. You can use all the Dermablend you want, but as you can see from these pictures snapped of Mark Wahlberg walking to the set of The Fighter, those tattoos still shine through like grubby bruises.

Though Angelina Jolie was able to shed her modern, tabloid allure to play a 1920s mother in Clint Eastwood's Changeling, I might have believed in her character a little more if, as she was being hosed down in a dramatic sanitarium scene, I didn't see five sentences of Khmer script written down her left shoulder blade. Similarly, the digital video look in Michael Mann's Public Enemies may seem jarring, but it's not as anachronistic as glimpsing Johnny Depp's knuckle tattoos in a period piece.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not some old man standing on my lawn, sneering at some youngster's tramp stamp. I like tattoos! I just don't get why actors are so determined to cover their bodies with them when they're inevitably going to need to sit in the makeup chair for (poorly-executed) penance. Is it fulfilling some deep psychological need for permanence in a profession that demands a schizophrenic change of identity every few months? If that's the case, here's my reasoned, professional advice: Cry into your vast supply of dollar bills and stop with the enormous, uncoverable tattoos.

· Funky Bunch [ONTD]


  • SarahHopeCoulter says:

    Hey im 16 years old and someday hopefully will have a career in acting. I really want to go down the stage root you see and I was wondering would it matter if I were to get a small tattoo on my left inside wrist saying "hope"? Could this effect my chances of ever making a career for myself as an actor?

    • Nick B. says:

      DO NOT GET TATTOOS THAT YOU CANNOT COVER UP WITH A TEE SHIRT! Also, if you're a woman, visible tattoos can hurt if you have a good body and need to show it off to get cast. You want hope, make a piece of art and frame it over your bed. You don't need something on your body for the rest of your life that will, and they will do it, make people judge you. If you want to be an actor. And really, any other profession.

    • BeccaChristensen says:

      I'd get it in white ink. I have a tattoo on my inner forearm that's in white ink and it's invisible on stage. Be VERY careful about placement and size if you're getting anything other than white ink.

    • ldavid69 says:

      You are 16 and you can not spell the word "route"?

  • Peter_0toole says:

    Most of us actors have barely any supply of dollar bills.

  • wonderdrae says:

    Id say get the Tattoo somewhere not so visible, and smaller, places where the camera doesn't shine shoot as much or where the director, cinematographer, etc. Can work around you easily. Open places like arms and make it to hard to cover up. I am an actor and I plan on getting a medium sized tat on my lat where it is hidden more . I also think temporary tats could be great too. Where you can have them every noe and again. May be pricey but much better then a regret or hurting your career.

  • Joel Thomas Hynes says:

    I say fuck em all.

  • Blake says:

    A good friend died and i want to honour him by getting a tattoo, i'm in university for acting but i plan on getting a small letter on my wrist that could be covered by a watch or something like that so make up isnt the only option i hope its ok haha

    • Sean Darrin says:

      Competition for roles is intense. Why on earth would you want to make it easy for the director to not cast you. Stop with the tattoos. If you must have one use the fake ones that wash off or fade out. Getting a tattoo and expecting the industry to work around it is like shaving your head and expecting to get cast for hair shampoo commercials. They just don't want you.

  • Eric says:

    Haha thats cute, but you might want to try meeting some more actors. Only about 5% of them have a "vast supply of dollar bills." Unless you really make it big, you're basically asking to be poor by pursuing a career in acting.

  • Luke B. says:

    Lol you are highly misinformed if you think dermablend cant effectively cover large tattoos with today's "HD" filming. Tom Hardy had all of his tattoo'd areas showing as Bane in the Dark knight rises and that movie is as HD as they get, also, Rico Genest has his entire body tattoo'd (including his whole head and face) and they covered all of it perfectly with dermablend. These kinds of severely biased articles are why people are so misinformed about "tattoos and acting".

  • andre timeless says:

    i have both my arms and neck tattooed in black & white and i seriously want to be a leading roll actor im also a personal movie writer i movies like after earth and reddik can my tattoos be covered for these kinds of movies

    • ldavid69 says:

      I am not surprised you have tattoos. Your ENGLISH SKILLS are atrocious. You do not use punctuation and you do not capitalize the beginning of sentences or the word "I". You claim to want to pursue acting and you can not even spell the word, "role". Also the word is "I'm" , not the way you wrote it. Very sad, I actually feel more stupid after having read your awful post.

      • Michelle says:

        If you think people with tattoos are unintelligent, you must live on a farm far from any real civilisation.

  • Jazmine says:

    I'm an actress and have had no problem getting casted with my tattoos. normally they're willing to work with you, if you talent shines through, it doesn't really matter what's on your skin.

  • Camila says:

    Tom Hardy. Dark Knight Rises. Perfect tattoo cover-up. I rest my case.

  • Eric says:

    What about scars? I have a large 8 inch long scar running up my left arm's tricep muscle. Its only visible from behind. Are you just as likely not to get cast in a part if you had a tattoo there instead?

  • Euan says:

    I'm a budding actor considering getting a tattoo on my upper arm, like just below the shoulder, how much do you think this could effect my future in acting? As any actor should be aware jobs are rare and I don't want to be turned down from a job because of a decision I made in earlier life.

    • Sean Darrin says:

      I have been working on film sets all my life and I am too old to tell you how long. I promise you it will cause problems sooner or later. Everyone has the anomaly story about an actor who succeeded with tattoos, but all they are are anomalies. Why risk it?

  • Kelin says:

    I have a tattoo on my right arm , its about half of my arm . & im getting into an acting career . Will my tattoo affect it ? & its the only one I have btw .

  • Tish says:

    Actually, Johnny Depp's are not "anachronistic." Do you have any idea how long tattoos have been around?
    Anyway, it seems like they are becoming less of an issue at this day in age. If you do not have dozens of tattoos, I'd say it is ok.

  • Kelcie says:

    What about a tattoo on my hip? that can easily be covered by costumes. and it wouldn't be very big. maybe 3 inches long and 2 inches wide.