Pre-Netflix, pre-internet, Louis Theroux was out in the real world telling the stories no one wanted to touch. Let’s be real here folks, he has never hesitated in pushing on uncomfortable truths, and it makes for riveting TV.
With news that LT himself will be doing a huge set of national tour dates across Australia in January 2020, we decided to look back at some of Louis’ most wild moments on TV.
In his documentary Under the Knife, Louis dove into the real-life experience of plastic surgery. He spoke with patients before and after to see if their self esteem improved, with unsurprising results. But then, in classic Theroux style, Louis dove head first and underwent liposuction himself, documenting the whole thing from permanent marker sketch to ultimate bod.
Watch the whole documentary for an in-depth look into the motivations and mindsets of those paying hefty amounts in the name of self improvement.
#2 Spent Two Weeks In Prison
Louis has made his name going where other journalists won’t go, and somehow managing to get clearance to film in places that remain off the news. Spending two weeks in prison in his series Behind Bars, Louis documented the racial segregation and warfare in the American penal system in spectacular form. If that wasn’t eye-opening enough, he went back and did it again in Miami years later.
#3 Lived with Westboro Baptist Church – Twice
Famously known for picketing dead soldiers funerals and embellishing their signs with violent slogans of hate, Westboro Baptist Church members are not the easiest people to talk to. Louis spent intimate time with the clan in two documentaries addressing The Most Hated Family in America. He sat in on church and even picketed himself, dealing with lashings of hate from the church members, but staying strong throughout.
Getting inside the mind of a religious sect so irrational is no easy task, but Theroux manages. Rational? Nope, not at all, but definitely a must watch.
#4 Visiting the Westbank
To Theroux, a war zone is of no worry. In The Ultra Zionists, the filmmaker travelled to the West Bank, center of the ongoing battle between Israel and Palestine; a place where patriotism and religion intersect so violently that only Louis was crazy enough to document it. He spent several weeks in ultra Zionist communities, travelled along the border with a mere vest for protection, and was even teargassed during a riot. This is peak Louis: brilliant, explosive and a little insane.
#5 Made A Porn Cameo
One thing Theroux does so wonderfully is make fun of himself – he has absolutely no shame. Across two documentaries, he experienced the porn industry for himself. From penis polaroids to his cameo in a gay porn film, Louis embedded himself like no other journalist would.
Returning recently to see how the internet changed the porn industry, a “where are they now” of sorts proved surprisingly sad. One suicide, one addiction and a range of issues have affected the subjects since Louis’s first encounter with them.
Needless to say a porn cameo is not something you’d see on 60 Minutes. Louis Theroux’s groundbreaking attitude has always meant uncovering a story no one else would touch. We’re stoked to hear what he has to say next year – and where he’ll dare to go next.
Images: Christina House