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TEMPTU PRO History: De Niro’s Tattoos in Cape Fear

August 23, 2010  |  NEW AT TEMPTU

Though it was released almost 19 years ago, Cape Fear (not the original of course, the equally powerful remake), was by far one of our favorite projects to have worked on.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a chance to work with Robert De Niro?  To prepare for the role of Max Cady in Cape Fear, De Niro did a lot of research: listening to video-taped interviews of serial killers and looking at stills of men in prison.  He discovered that tattoos are a way of expressing oneself in prison and so he felt that he should be covered with tattoos and that’s just what he did.  

Who did Cape Fear’s makeup artist Ilona Herman turn to in order to complete Max Cady’s tough tattooed look?  TEMPTU of course!  Having previously used our tattoos on De Niro in GoodFellas, Herman knew she could trust TEMPTU PRO with the job of bringing Max Cady to the next level.  Because of the desire for authenticity and a thematic tie in the tattoos for this project had to be thoroughly researched.  To accomplish this we worked with the filmmakers, including De Niro, and went through the Bible and picked phrases having to do with vengeance and betrayal. Two of the phrases that made it onto De Niro’s body are “The Lord Is the Avenger” and “Vengeance Is Mine,” complete with chapter and verse.  De Niro was shaping the character and we had his input very early on.  He monitored the tattoos down to the smallest detail.


And detailed they were!  The tattoos were so numerous and intricate that their application took about an hour and a half, although they were not applied every day–usually just touched up.  De Niro got so deep into character that we had to actually increase the size of the tattoos about 10% due to the additional muscle he had gained.  The rest, of course, is movie (and TEMPTU PRO) history!


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