You may recognise this face. He’s played a gang leader on Law & Order: SVU, been in films with Susan Sarandon and Taylor Lautner as well as music videos with Kid Cudi and Beyoncé. Hell, if you’ve visited the New York City area you might even see him on the streets — it’s tough to be anonymous with this much ink on your visage. Doug Drucker tells us what it is like to be recognisable in the city of anonymity.

Photos by Pookie

When you have face tattoos, every time you walk down the street people stare at you. You can’t get a regular job. Even trying to get a house is tough. But this is who I am now and I try to use the positives out of it.

I never thought about getting into acting, but people told me to go down to Central Casting because they might hire me for some roles like gangbanger or inmate. I never thought about getting involved in acting, but that’s life.

Getting my face tattooed wasn’t really the best decision, honestly. I was in the whole “fuck the world” mentality. I am not outgoing and, in a way, I was trying to express myself through a creative outlet. I see people and they all look the same but I wanted to be different. I had a really good friend who tattooed — I designed a lot of stuff on my face myself and we came up with different ideas. Every week we would get drunk a little and I just kind of got lost in it. It was like a puzzle. I wasn’t planning on getting my whole face tattooed, but at that point in my mind I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to live another five years. I thought of the ramifications but then I said, “Fuck the ramifications.”

I still struggle with depression. People ask me if I would get the tattoos removed if I could but I can’t even remember my face before the tattoos. This is who I am now.

The only time I forget I have tattoos on my face is when I am alone or walking around listening to music. It is hard to forget when people are staring at you.

When I first got them around 2008 it was early to have face tats and people were really shocked. I had a confrontational mindset — when people feel that energy and it mixes with the visual of tattoos, the ink exacerbates that evil light.

I had to learn how to carry myself better.  I’ve worked on having a “passive look.” I don’t want a lot of people coming up to me and taking pictures, but at the same time I don’t want people to cross the street when they see me.

I still use my moodiness when I am acting. As a method actor I bring myself to a scary place for my menacing roles.  I become the person I am playing so much that when filming wraps it is hard for me to get out of character. I have never been an outwardly aggressive person, but I’ve had evil thoughts that I can draw on.

The darkest person I had to embody was in Ace the Case with Susan Sarandon. I played a guy who was scaring a seven-year-old girl on the subway. It was difficult to do. Intimidating a kid is awful, so in my mind I had to imagine that I was intimidating someone else and I managed to do it.

I’m told you want to hear about my own situation that happened on the subway a few months ago. Well, I was on the E train going downtown to World Trade Center area. This guy came in with cuts on his feet and he sat down next to me. Everybody else moved to the other side of the train, but because I am used to people being intimidated by me I didn’t want to discriminate against him so I stayed where I was. I looked at his feet because the cuts looked fresh and bleeding and he caught me looking. He said, “What are you looking at?”

I was very calm and said something like, “C’mon chill man.”

Again he said, “No, what are you looking at?” Then he punched me in the back of the head.

Usually I am not scared of people and I try to always stay calm because if people sense fear or have fear it can get worse. So I acted like it wasn’t a big deal and I walked to the other side of the train. Then he came at me with a knife. I tried to protect myself, so I put up my hand and he got it with the knife, then he stabbed me in the shoulder.

That’s when I got scared.

He came back at me again, but luckily the train stopped and when the doors opened he just ran away.

Everybody else flooded out of the train, but fortunately there was one really nice lady who… I wasn’t going to tell the cops because the way I look they might think I instigated it. But this lady was very helpful and told them what happened, and she waited with me for half an hour until the paramedics showed up.

A lot of times I’m playing the bad guy — I understood where he was coming from in a way.  Going through life with my face tattooed has helped me understand different types of people. I hear about groups of people being discriminated against for the colour of their skin and I can relate.

The flipside is that if people are intimidated by me I can sympathise with them. You have to keep in mind people’s perspectives. The tattoos have helped me become more open-minded. People might look at me first like I am crazy or something but then when they talk to me for a few minutes they will see that I’m a nice person. Once you get to know someone their appearance is irrelevant.

Learn more from the producers of SVU about using Doug Drucker in the show!