EDITORIAL: The best movie beards
Once again, the celebration of "Movember" is gaining more steam. In recent years, men (this writer included) have begun challenging themselves to grow a mustache or beard for the 30 days of November as a way of bringing awareness to men's health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancers. Please visit the site of this legit charity operation. Last year, contributors raised over $126 million in Movember.
As a movie writer and fan of facial hair, here's my second homage to Movember. This time, I'm ranking the best movie beards. In this second editorial, I've got two lists. The first ranks the best "Always-On Icons," as I call them. They are the men who always seem to have a outstanding beard going or are known for always having one. Most guys don't rock the full beard 24/7, so this list is notably smaller than the mustache list from the last post. The second list are "One Movie Wonders" of good, single movie beard examples. In the middle, we've got a pair of special designations and awards. Just like with mustaches, that's the roll call of classics. Enjoy!
1. CHUCK NORRIS-- There's no law of science or cinema that allows me to put Chuck Norris any lower than #1. There might actually be a clause that requires this list to be called "All Those Who Wish They Were Chuck Norris." Nevertheless, his ever-present beard is solid and can sharpen dull knives. It was nice to see him back on the big screen inThe Expendables 2. If you want to be shocked into a heart attack, check out Chuck Norris co-starring with Bruce Lee in his The Way of the Dragon video to see him WITHOUT his trademark beard. I'm convinced it's an imposter.
2. ZACK GALIFIANAKIS-- This awkward stand-up comedian single-handedly brought popularity back to the full bushy beard, thanks to playing Alan in the soon-to-be The Hangover trilogy (third chapter comes next summer). Since 2008, you all probably have one friend that is uncomfortably weird looking in his full beard. Hopefully, he doesn't have a man purse... I mean satchel... to go with it.
3. KEVIN SMITH-- The prolific nerd hero, writer, and director, whether behind the camera or in front of the camera as Silent Bob and quick-witted supporting characters, always rocks a pretty solid full beard with a deep curve from ear to chin.
4. CHEWBACCA-- Dude, Chewbacca is all beard. Where does it start and where does it end? Don't ask. Want some advice? Let the Wookie win. Welcome to Movember Cooperstown, Chewbacca.
(Image: www.imdb.com and MGM)
5. MR. T-- While he hasn't been in a ton of movies, when he does (Rocky III's Clubber Lang most especially) that full sideburn-to-chin monster is always there. He puts the B.A. in B.A. He's a few rungs below the legend of Chuck Norris, but worthy to round out this list.
THE "SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE" AWARD FOR BEST SIDEBURNS
HUGH JACKMAN as Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise-- It's not a mustache. It's not a beard. It's bigger than just sideburns. It's 100% memorable and awesome. Enjoy his latest adventure as Wolverine in his second solo movie as the character coming next summer.
SPECIAL AWARD FOR ALL-ROUND FACIAL HAIR VERSATILITY
KEVIN KLINE-- When it comes to facial hair, the man can do it all. He's done different mustaches, different beards, different combinations. All of them are unique, mostly non-prosthetic, and memorable. Google the many looks over the years of Kevin Kline. Between both editorials, he's the MVP for versatility.
1. (TIE) Kenneth Branagh in Wild Wild West and Wes Bentley inThe Hunger Games-- The sheer creativity and careful grooming of these two bearded works of art would make Adrien Brody, Andre 3000, and Gael Garcia Bernal weep with inadequacy during their recent series of Gillette ProGlide Styler TV commericials. I'd like to see those three guys pull these two beards off without making their heads explode. Just for sheer intricacy and detail, those two beards stand above all others.
2. Ian McKellan inThe Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series-- By far, Ian McKellan's Gandalf is the greatest hero on this list. When the recent Hobbit trilogy is all said and done in two years (first chapter in a couple of weeks), McKellan will have played the long-bearded (sometimes gray and sometimes white) wizard in six film spanning 3,247 hours.
3. Tom Hanks in Castaway and Forrest Gump-- I'm pretty sure the Forrest Gump running beard was good makeup, but I'll bet money his incredibleCastaway beard was all him. Adding to Hanks overall transformation, the film crew took a year off for Hanks to loose weight and grow this beard for the proper deserted island look that spanned years.
4. Gerard Butler in 300-- Now, this is manly beard, one that says don't f--k with me and my army coming out of the bottom of a battle helmet. Other than it's ability to yell right along with King Leonidas, I've got to give props to its impeccable slope and length. I'm sure it's Hollywood magic, but it's a good-looking and beefy beard and one of the best.
5. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, Awakenings, The Fisher King, and Moscow on the Hudson-- In most cases, kind of like Kevin Kline, when Williams brings out the beard, a serious role follows. Other than Moscow on the Hudson that is normally the case. The furriest man in Hollywood wears it well and belongs on the list. For a lot of actors, beard = Oscar. That was the case with Good Will Hunting and Robin Williams, my choice for best Robin Williams beard. See #8 later.
6. Robbie Coltrane in the Harry Potter film series-- Hagrid's voluminous forest of dark brown is a beard that catches on fire and keeps on ticking. Despite his unkempt and constantly dirty appearance, apparently he and his beard are immensely huggable. Like McKellan, he also scores points for longevity with seven movies to his beard credit.
7. Chia Hui Liu in Kill Bill Vol. 2-- The cruel, yet insightful trainer Pai Mei earns style points to make this list and leap-frog the final three with his beard's length and his smooth beard move of the slow mega stroke-and-toss. See for yourself around the 1:11 mark or 1:24 mark.
8. (TIE) Jeff Bridges inThe Big Lebowski and George Clooney in Syriana-- These two beards are a pair of salt and pepper classics from two desperate characters. One just wants his rug back, bowl, and get high. The other wants to thwart terrorism and take an Oscar-winning beard note from Robin Williams. Both beards match their rugged actors well and neither man will be asking for any Just For Men products.
9. Clint Eastwood in "The Man With No Name" trilogy-- While most beards on this top 10 of "One-Movie Wonders" earns their marks for bushy volume, Clint's thin scruff from Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is raw, perfect, and a few days past five o'clock shadow, like good stubble should be.
10. Harrison Ford inThe Fugitive-- This beard would have made it to a three-way salt-and-pepper tie with Clooney and Bridges at #8, but it was shaved mid-movie. Like a lion's mane, Harrison put on a really good beard for a with in The Fugitive. I'll let Ford round out the top 10 before these next beards on the list below.
THE BEST OF THE REST
(in no particular order other than giving Santa and Jesus their props)
Every actor who's every played Santa Claus (including Edmund Gwenn, Jeff Gellin, Tim Allen, Ed Asner, Richard Attenborough, Paul Giamatti, Tom Hanks (kind of) and (least realistic of all) Billy Bob Thornton)
Every actor who's every played Jesus Christ (including Jim Caviezel, Willem Dafoe, Max von Sydow) Jake Johnson, Ted Neeley)
Daniel Day-Lewis and Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Michael J. Fox and Jason Bateman (Teen Wolf series)
Robert De Niro (The Deer Hunter, Heat, Wag the Dog, The Killer Elite, The Mission, New Year's Eve)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Terrance Stamp (Superman I and II)
Patrick Swayze (Point Break)
George Clooney (Burn After Reading)
Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall)
Tom Cruise (Born on the Fourth of July)
John Goodman (The Big Lebowski)
Jeff Bridges (Iron Man, Crazy Heart, Tron: Legacy, True Grit)
John Rhys Davies (The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones series)
Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
Richard Armitage and every dwarf (the upcoming Hobbit trilogy)
Johnny Depp (The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)
Bill Nighy's CGI tentacles (The Pirates of the Caribbean series)
Alan Rickman (Die Hard)
Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart)
Al Pacino (Serpico)
Hugh Jackman (Australia)
Laurence Olivier and Liam Neeson as Zeus (Clash of the Titans, old and new)
Bill Murray (The Life Aquatic)
Mike Myers (The Love Guru)
Kurt Russell (The Thing)
Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi (the Star Wars trilogies)
Patrick Crenshaw (Old School)
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator)
Finally, you get my own pathetic attempt. Happy Movember, everyone!