Justin Theroux: Beyond the Tabloids and to The Leftovers

For being one half of one of the most photographed and recognizable couples in the world, its remarkable that is such a chameleon.

Theres his avatar life, as he calls it. Its the one lived out on the tabloid covers, its own experience we all shared while strolling down the grocery store cashier aisles and soaking in the details of his bridal to .( That honeymoon in Bora Bora, my gawd !)

But the alternate-reality world depicted in glossy pages, the bipolar one that projects a fairy tale as often as it does some sordid soap opera, rarely offers so much as a glimpse of authenticity when it comes to the person in the photographs.

Sitting in the cellar of The Smile restaurant in the East Village, Theroux is every bit as heart-stoppingly hot as he is in those pages, sure. Garmented in a blessedly snug-fitting tee with his aviators hanging from his collar on his perfect chest and sporting a Pharrell-style ranger hat, the actor would seem like an L.A. asshat idiot if he wasnt so devastatingly handsome and far more genuine, earnest, and at ease than a person who has achievedand even been a bit abused bythe level of renown that his romance has attained him.

Were there to talk his riveting turn in The Leftovers , the eerie HBO drama that illustrates the aftermath of a global calamity in which 2 percent of the worlds population mysteriously disappears. Season 2 premieres Sunday night on HBO, and Theroux is excellent in it: raw, vulnerable, masculine, complex. We dig deep talking about his performance; its a visible reprieve from the incessant fascination over his personal life.

It was frustrating earlier on when we first got together because I didnt understand it, Theroux says, when I ask hows he dealt with the tension between watching his face on magazines because of whos he dating, when the truth is hes consistently been one of the most surprising and engaging Hollywood players of the last 15 years.

He broke out with a supporting role in American Psycho before graduating on to the twisty Oscar-nominated drama Mulholland Drive . Memorable roles that followed in Six Feet Under , the John Adams miniseries, and Inland Empire combine to stimulate his recent reign over the slapstick world, with scene-stealing work in , Your Highness , and Wanderlust , all the more surprising and impressiveespecially when one learns that he wrote the screenplays for Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2 as well.His work in The Leftovers is dark and intense; that it follows a string of slapsticks demonstrates Therouxs ability to slip into an astounding range of roles, even that of the Hollywood tabloid prince, although that may be the one he least identifies with.

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