by Lizzie Smith
GOTHAM MAGAZINE 2004

Justin Theroux, the abdominally-blessed star of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Mulholland Drive, is currently the smoldering love interest of Rachel Griffiths’ character on the HBO hit series, Six Feet Under. A New Yorker who cut his teeth in off-Broadway theater before he made himself known to the Hollywood big shots, Theroux is scorchingly talented, low-key, artsy, and smart. And don’t let him tell you otherwise.

How long have you been New Yorker?

Twelve years. I was just thinking about that the other day… How I used to be so in awe of New York, wondering, if I came now for the first time, would I be as awestruck?

Sure, you would.

I’m in my midlife crisis as a New Yorker. You miss the things that are gone, like the Third Street Bazaar. It’s gone. I walk around almost living in the past, bemoaning that NYU is building another fucking building. It starts to look like a morgue instead of a birthing center.

New York still beats LA.

Yeah, it does, absolutely. But I’ve made peace with LA. I’ve made friends with it.

Your uncle is travel writer Paul Theroux. You come from an artsy family. Does that diminish the risk involved in becoming an actor, to have that context of risk-taking in your family?

It actually seemed like the safest bet. Selling insurance would have been a risk. My attention span isn’t long enough for a seven-year plan. I couldn’t structure my life that way. I relish the kind of repeat hiatus I have as an actor.

What’s your love-life like?

Oh. It’s wonderful. Um… What’s my love-life like. I think I’m reaching the stage where I want to settle down and have children, but I don’t seem to be able to get it together. Get back to me in five years on that.

Do you have someone special?

Yeah. But I don’t really talk about it.

What is it like to be on the set of Six Feet Under?

It’s not like a TV show. You get the impression that you’re making a never-ending movie… There’s no fucking around, and I mean that in the best way. It’s a very talented group, not including myself.

Most of your scenes are with Rachel Griffiths. What is she like to work with?

She’s fantastic. She’s so much fun. Every take she serves you up something new and slightly off-center. She seems slightly unhinged, and I don’t mean that in a negative way.

And as a human being?

She’s a new mother. So a baby on the set forced a tempo. Everything had to be scheduled around breast-feeding Banjo.

She named her baby Banjo?

Yes.

What kind of people do you like to work with?

Really, really, really smart people. That’s not saying I’m smart. I like those who are incredibly astute and know what they want.

When people write about you, they always call you an intellectual. You don’t think you’re smart?

I don’t really think I’m an intellectual because I don’t think I’m well-read enough. Maybe I don’t go to museums enough. I don’t like jazz, so I think, “Oh, God…”

Come on. Do you think they are saying you’re intellectual because they think most actors are dumb? Do you think actors have to be smart?

I think that actors have to be really smart. But there’s a reason why they’re not directors, as well. It is sort of a narcissistic art form.

Will you be getting involved in the upcoming Presidential election?

Well, I will be voting. I’ve hovered over the “donate to John Kerry” button  a thousand times, but I don’t know. He’s like the girl across the bar that you’re like, “I wanna like you…” But when the Republicans show up in New York, I will be there, furious and stomping my feet.

When this issue comes out, it will be summer. What are your likes or dislikes about summer in the city?

I’m not a fan of tourists. I just hate those double-decker buses. I hate that there are more lines to things. I don’t like the people who sing in Washington Square Park — like, the entire White Album. That makes me insane, actually. But I like my garden. I like eating and smoking outdoors. I like air-conditioning.