D Dipasupil/FilmMagic
Christina Shanahan
Aug 21, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

Laverne Cox is ditching her signature prison jumpsuit from Orange Is The New Black and slipping into a much more "expressive" wardrobe for the role of tattoo artist Deathy in her new flick Grandma, out today. "I loved the idea of playing a tattoo artist, and I when I read the script, I immediately started picturing what Deathy would look like," Cox told InStyle about gearing up to play Lily Tomlin's on-screen BFF in the film. So just how did she dream up Deathy's artsy makeup and full-body tats?

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© Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

"I used to work at a drag queen restaurant called Lucky Cheng’s in New York City," explains Cox. "My friend Leila bartended there, and she’s covered in these beautiful tattoos and piercings. She has a really cool rockabilly look." Cox says she sent a picture of Leila to the film's director, Paul Weitz, and her character's aesthetic was born. "He said, 'Let's go for it,'" recalls Cox. "He loved the hair and everything, so Deathy is totally inspired by Leila."

But when it came to getting inked up for the film's shoot, Cox opted for the magic of makeup over the real deal. "I’ve never gotten a tattoo, personally," says Cox. "But I definitely think there's something spiritual and ritualistic about it, so I was really interested in taking on this role to explore the relationship between tattoo artists and their clients. Plus, who could pass up working with Lily Tomlin? She's a living legend."

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