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Justin Theroux

My lockdown year with a pit bull

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The actor Justin Theroux’s sole companion during New York’s lockdown was his pit bull terrier, Kuma. “The only relationship where I think co-dependency should be totally encouraged is with a dog,” he tells Eric Sullivan in Esquire. Justin, 49, was married to Jennifer Aniston from 2015 to 2018, but their split was amicable, unlike that of his own parents, who divorced when he was six. His father, an international trade lawyer who helped bring Kentucky Fried Chicken to China and Pizza Hut to the USSR, threatened to sue his mother over custody of their children.

Justin’s uncle, the travel writer Paul Theroux, describes their clan as “a family of rivals, satirists, mockers, teasers and gossips”. If Justin wins an award, they remind him of the time he ate a polystyrene cup when he was young and threw up on his shoes. Justin is now starring in a new television adaptation of Paul’s novel The Mosquito Coast. Paul’s son – Justin’s cousin – is the documentary-maker Louis Theroux.

The “one pivotal relationship” Justin has is with his mother, Phyllis, an essayist and author whom he calls every day. In a column about Mother’s Day 1979 for The New York Times, she described seven-year-old Justin vanishing from the house before dawn. Driving over to check her allotment, she found him in the street, barefoot and in pyjamas. Sobbing, he explained: “I woke up and remembered it was Mother’s Day and I didn’t have a present. And I thought maybe I could find some flowers to pick.”