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Liev Schreiber’s Dangerous Hobby, Tattoos Inspired by Dreams

Liev Schreiber was into dreams way before Inception made them this summer’s hot topic. When we met Angelina Jolie’s Salt co-star at Newark airport recently, he had just returned from a scuba-diving trip to Tahiti, where he swam among dolphins, moray eels, and sharks — without a cage — with buddies Fisher Stevens and rich guy Jim Clark. (Schreiber, who’s so into scuba-diving he has the super-serious “Nitrox” certification, says sharks only attack if you’re bleeding, “or a surfer.”) How did Schreiber acquire this hobby? Through a dream!

“I had vivid flying dreams,” said Schreiber, “and when I first started making a living as an actor, I would try to pursue these things that I thought would be like flying. I tried skydiving and that was great, but that wasn’t it. And I found this, and this was really it. A lot of what I do in my flying dreams is just float above houses, kind of hover very slowly. Very much like scuba-diving.” He’s been diving since 1990.

It also turns out that Schreiber was motivated by his dreams to tattoo his sons’ names on the inside of his forearms — Sasha, turning 4 on Sunday, on the right, and Kai, 1 1/2, on the left. (Happy birthday, Sasha!) “I’m not really a tattoo person at all,” he explains, “but I had this [dream] that one day I would go to pick them up at college, and I would be there in whatever outfit that a sixtysomething man would go to pick up their kids at college with, and we’d get a flat tire, and I would get out and I would change the tire, and as I was changing the tire, the sleeve would come up over my wrinkled skin and they would see their names tattooed on my arms and that would be a big deal to them.” Schreiber can’t explain why there’s a flat tire involved. Nor does he quite understand why his sons, who will have seen these tattoos throughout their lives, will have forgotten that they’re there. “I don’t think they’d forget,” he said, “but time would pass, and it would just be a wonderful reminder of how much I love them.” In any case, the second he mentioned the dream to his mother, she talked him into getting the tattoos for real. “I have her to blame,” he said. “I told her I was thinking about it and she said, ‘Oh, do it! Do it!’” Note that Schreiber’s tattoo-pushing mom lives on an ashram in Virginia, and raised him in a squat on the Lower East Side. Reminds us of a dream we had …

Related: 49 Minutes With Liev Schreiber [NYM]

Photo: Patrick McMullan