EDITORIAL: The best movie redheads

(Image: www.imdb.com)

In honor of Disney/Pixar's Brave coming out this weekend, highlighting a blazing redhead heroine, I felt obliged to make a list of the top movie redheads.  As a "ginger" myself, the subject is close to my heart.  There was a time that I was adorned by stubbornly-straight strawberry-blonde locks before a French stylist named Gillette, a German barber name Schick, and the bald heredity of both branches of my family tree came into my life (the "before" picture).  Nevertheless, as a redheaded child, I was perked up when I saw a person with my color hair on the big screen.  So, in honor of Brave's Merida, here's my list of the best movie redheads.  If you have a dirty mind and need to see proof that "the curtains match the drapes" of these redheads, you're going to have to consult Mr. Skin.  In the meantime, enjoy my list. Since red is considered a lucky color in some circles, we'll expand our list from ten to thirteen (but, of course, thanks to ties and honorary members, more than thirteen make the cut).  Enjoy and hug a ginger today!


1.  Julia Roberts-- Was there any doubt who would be #1?  There wasn't in my mind. Julia Roberts is the most memorable and quintessential movie redhead.  Though all redheaded actresses occasionally take on other hair colors (see Nicole Kidman), it's her deep natural red that we will always identify "America's Sweetheart" with.  She's the best of the best.  

BEST RED-HEADED FILMS:  Pretty Woman, My Best Friend's Wedding, Steel Magnolias, Erin Brockovich, Notting Hill, Ocean's Eleven

2.  Robert Redford-- Easily the most successful male redhead, Robert Redford has found acclaim and fame both in front of the camera in his many memorable roles and behind the camera as a prolific director.  He may be a little high at #2, but he was (and remains) my mother's favorite actor and who she dreamed her redheaded son could turn out as.  He gets sentimental points and I would be disowned by my own mother if he wasn't high on the list.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Way We Were, The Last Castle, Spy Game, The Horse Whisperer, Barefoot in the Park

3.  Katharine Hepburn-- The most decorated actress in movie history was a redhead, though it's a shame that the black-and-white era hid those auburn tresses.  Katharine Hepburn lived up to her fiery locks in many great roles, from screwball comedies to costume dramas.  Her resume and reputation alone puts her high on this list. To put the ladies you will see at #4-#7 ahead of her would be a slap in the face.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  The African Queen, Lion in Winter, On Golden Pond, The Philadelphia Story  (black and white)

4.  Nicole Kidman-- Though the wife of country singer Keith Urban and ex-wife of Tom Cruise has been mostly blonde these days, Nicole Kidman burst on the scene with luscious red curls.  An Oscar winner and a pinnacle of style, Nicole is easily in this top five.  In my memory, she's always a redhead.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Dead Calm, Days of Thunder, Billy Bathgate, Far and Away, Moulin Rouge, Cold Mountain

5.  Julianne Moore-- A bold and mature actress on many levels, Julianne Moore is one of those special performers who gives her raw and complete emotional investment all in every role she takes on.  One of the best actresses to never win an Oscar, she's one of the best in the business.  She has also famously gone the furthest to prove herself natural redhead if you know what I mean.  Just watch Short Cuts.   

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Short Cuts, The End of the Affair, The Kids Are All Right, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Crazy Stupid Love, Hannibal

6.  Judy Garland-- For many, the first movie they ever saw in color was The Wizard of Oz where a young Judy Garland and her auburn hair took center stage.  Though her career was troubled and cut short, her impact as a redhead was undeniable.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, A Star is Born

7.  Susan Sarandon-- She may look more auburn that the bright lights of others, but Susan is unmistakably an excellent redhead and she's better for this list than her sometimes redheaded Thelma and Louise co-star Geena Davis.  Sarandon has matured into the go-to matriarch actress in the business, but her younger roles are still just as impressive.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Bull Durham, Stepmom, Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking

8.  (TIE) Bryce Dallas Howard and Ron Howard-- Ron Howard and his talented offspring are awarded a tie and spot in the top 10.  Though mostly known for his TV efforts in front of the camera, Ron has gone on, like Redford, to be an extremely accomplished and Oscar-winning director (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code, Ransom).  His daughter Bryce is a fast-rising star and really making the most of her chances. Keep an eye on her and expect big things.  Also, keep an eye on her fellow ginger The Help co-star Jessica Chastain.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  American Graffiti  (Ron), The Shootist (Ron), Manderlay (Bryce), The Help (Bryce), The Village (Bryce), Hereafter (Bryce)

9.  James Cagney--Like Hepburn, it's a shame so many of his historic classic roles came in black-and-white movies masking his natural ginger hair.  The multi-talented James Cagney could play a tough guy one minute and assert himself in a song-and-dance number the next.  He's an old Hollywood legend and a great choice.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  White Heat, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Roaring Twenties, Angels with Dirty Faces

10.  Molly Ringwald-- Molly, the object of so many 1980s affections, deserves to make this list even though she might not have the overall careers of the others among her here.  Her iconic impact during her era is enough to warrant a top 10 spot.  For an entire generation of kids from the 80's, she's the quintessential redhead before Julia Roberts.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink

11.  Rupert Grint-- Where Molly Ringwald was the memorable redhead for the 80's, to this current generation of young people, Rupert Grint and Lindsay Lohan are probably the first two redheads kids these days could name.  Playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series counts as way more success for this list than Lindsay Lohan of Mean GirlsThe Parent Trap, andGeorgia Rule.  Congrats, Rupert!  You beat the tabloid superstar for the list!  

BEST REDHEAD FILMS: the entire Harry Potter series

12.  Brendan Gleeson-- To fill the final two spots on the list, I'm going with a pair of character actor supporting guys.  The pride of Dublin, Ireland, Brendan has an excellent resume of top-notch roles after bursting onto the American scene as the best-friend Hamish in Braveheart.  He's an underrated and gifted actor capable of both drama and comedy, commonly playing the tough curmudgeon.  He's another one of those guys you tend to see in more movies than you realize.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Braveheart, The Guard, the final four films of the Harry Potter series, In Bruges, Troy, The General, Mission: Impossible 2

13.  Eric Stoltz-- Eric has had a seemingly endless career as successful supporting actor. You don't realize it, but he's been in all kinds of great hits, all as a proud redhead.  Go check out his filmography at IMDB and you'll see what I mean.  His most famous piece of would-coulda-shoulda trivia is that he was the original actor filmed to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future

, but was replaced by Michael J. Fox.  The rest is history.  

BEST REDHEADED FILMS:  Mask, Pulp Fiction, The Butterfly Effect, Some Kind of Wonderful, Anaconda, Killing Zoe, 2 Days in the Valley


HONORARY MEMBER #1:  Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?-- Just as the character famously said "I'm not bad. I'm drawn that way."  That wonderful badness included some incredible red hair.  Being an animated character and with red being a primary color, I'm going to go out on a limb and call her hair color natural.  The naturalness of the rest of her physical "endowments" are a bigger question.

HONORARY MEMBER #2:  Ariel fromThe Little Mermaid-- If I have Jessica Rabbit on this list as an "honorary member," I have to include Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid as well. The sole redhead of Disney's classic princesses (well, until Merida from Brave shows up this weekend), I will always prefer her as a mermaid in a seashell bikini to a human walking around on land.

HONORARY MEMBER #3:  Merida from Brave-- Well, if I'm giving Ariel red-headed props I might as well include Merida from Disney/Pixar's Brave as an early entry and honorary member of this list. Though I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm going to go out on a limb, considering Pixar's impeccable record, that the film is a winner and its heroine is as well.


(Natural redheads that missed the cut for the Top 13):  Jessica Chastain, Geena Davis, Maureen O'Hara, Patricia Clarkson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ginger Rogers, Isla Fisher, Kerri Green, Lindsey Lohan, Damien Lewis, Kevin McKidd, Frances Fisher

DISHONORABLE MENTION FOR BEST FAKE MOVIE REDHEAD:  TIE-- Emma Stone and Amy Adams-- It pained me to hear that both Emma and Amy are natural blonds. Emma's done such great stuff (Easy A, Superbad, The Help, Crazy Stupid Love) so far in her career as a redhead. The same goes for Amy (Enchanted, The Fighter, The Muppets, Doubt, Catch Me If You Can). Both would have easily would have made the Top 13 if they weren't living and perpetuating imaginary lies. It's a damn shame. Boo to you two!

OTHER CONVINCING FAKE REDHEADS:  Rita Hayworth, Kate Winslet, Claire Danes, Cate Blanchett, Milla Jovovich, Bette Davis, Rene Russo, Shirley MacLaine, Drew Barrymore, Alyson Hannigan, Catherine O'Hara, Christina Hendricks, Ann-Margaret, Deborah Kerr, Lucille Ball, Tilda Swinton, Rachel Nichols, Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Kate Mara, Bonnie Wright, Lauren Holly, Cynthia Nixon, Debra Messing, and (for a time) Marilyn Monroe.