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Costumes And Tattoos
"I knew that Rob wanted the whole movie to really be on the cutting edge of fashion," says costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays "the idea was to not try and show what's happening now, but what will be happening in the near future." Hays was the perfect choice as costume designer, not only because she had already delivered the goods for Cohen in her rendition of street racing culture in The Fast and the Furious, but also because as a European herself, Hays understands the differences between the American and continental looks.

"Sanja doesn't think about what's hip," notes Cohen. "She just does it, and it is hip. We kept our main cast pretty realistic, and placed all the high style stuff around them. Sanja has an eye both for what will become a character and also inform the audience what that character is really all about. It was fun to give her the freedom to really play and make such a colorful tapestry of costumes, which are a critical element to Xander's journey."

To begin with, Hays had to appropriately attire Vin Diesel as Xander Cage. Xander definitely has his own sense of style, including a big, shaggy coat for the Prague winter. "I wanted Xander to have a little bit of a wild animal look," Cohen recalls, "and I always thought of Vin like a bear. You know, he's cuddly, but also very dangerous and powerful."

"I loved working with Asia Argento," enthuses Hays. "She understands fashion and knows how to wear clothes, so even though her character is edgy, we decided not to go for a street punk look. Luckily, fashion was on our side because a lot of big designers are making fashion that flirts with being street, but is still very stylish. So we went for big name designers creating a kind of bratty look that Yelena has."

"With Marton Csokas as Yorgi," Hays continues, "we again made a decision to stay away from punk. I'm Eastern European myself, and we tend to dress up, unlike Americans, who tend to play down what they wear. When Eastern Europeaners have money, they tend to show it through their clothes. So we went with Marton wearing really expensive clothes, with a tough edge."

Hays certainly had no problem outfitting Samuel L. Jackson. "He's just a pleasure to dress. Whatever you put on him, you just go ‘Wow.' It's not the suit, it's the man."

Hays and her team dipped deeply into the wellsprings of their creativity when they came up with the outrageous designs for the concert, rave and nightclub denizens, aided and abetted by the hair and makeup departments. "Rob told me that he wanted me to help create a different world," Hays informs. "We researched what's happening in European fashion nowadays and just took it a little further. My favorite was the vaulted ‘zither bar,' because Rob wanted to see Eastern European wealth, with fur, feathers, lace, like a new millennium version of the continent's old opulence."

Another important aspect of the film's style are the flamboyant tattoos that adorn Xander Cage, Yorgi and even Yelena. The tattoos are crucial to Xander's character, even to the point where his code name--XXX--is taken from the three X's tattooed on the back of his neck. Tattoos are very much a part of action sports culture, and Diesel and Cohen were determined to remain true to the traditions. "Basically, tattoos should mean something to you," notes freestyle BMX star Rick Thorne. "A lot of tattoos I have are kind of spiritual, or reminders of things in my life that I want to improve."

Xander's tattoos were designed by Adrian Gallegos with input from Cohen, Diesel and Christien Tinsley, his makeup artist. "The tattoo construction was as much a part of Xander's personality as anythi

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