The beard; do you wear it, or does it wear you? Growing a stellar beard is a good way to make a big impression on people, who will be in awe AND think that you are a dick at one and the same time. But on the big screen a well sculpted mount of manly bristles can define a character and ignite a career. When Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator releases later in the month, the loss of a signature beard will be central to the plot. In recognition of this, here are ten of the best beards, both natural and prosthetic, to ever have graced cinemas.
10) Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Running Man
Arnie is known for his vascularity and clean-shaven giga-jaw. But in the kind of fantastic™ 1987 action move The Running Man he actually gets to sport a decent beard, if only briefly. Bear in mind that this movie is set in 2019, so we’ve only got a few years until death sports replace The X Factor.
9) Pierce Brosnan – Die Another Day
Getting captured by the North Koreans causes Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond all sorts of bother. The first thing out the window is grooming, resulting in quite a rubbish fake beard and wig combo which make him look like a castaway rather than a torture victim.
8 ) Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here
Growing a beard and pretending to become an egomaniacal rapping mental case is a novel prank, but one which was so obviously performed as a joke by Joaquin Phoenix that the joke itself fell apart. It doesn’t stop his scraggle-headed look from being iconic in its way.
7) Raul Julia – Kiss of the Spider Woman
Nothing particularly fancy or flash about the beard born on the face of Raul Julia in this movie, but the film itself is really good, so you should watch it whether you are a beard enthusiast or just a movie fan.
6) Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover
It took Mr Galifianakis some time to move from being an excellent, intelligent stand up to an international movie superstar, but The Hangover made this transition almost instantaneous and he brought his lustrous beard along for the ride.
5) The Pirate Captain – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
As part of the only kid’s film with the word ‘luxuriant’ in it more than once, The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, is a man obsessed with maintaining the quality of his beard. This is apparently one of the core tenets of piratical activities and just a small part of what is the funniest film of 2012.
4) The Guy with the Hairy Mole (Professor Kai-hsien) – Drunken Master
Easily the grossest, and thus most impressive, piece of facial hair you’ll see in a movie. This man not only has a hairy mole, but he has cultivated it into a long, off-centre mini-beard which he twiddles with. I guess it is supposed to be funny, but it just makes for stomach-churning stuff.
3) Wes Bentley – The Hunger Games
In terms of silliness, the beard of Seneca Crane, as portrayed by Wes Bentley, has to be right up there. It looks like the kind of thing a teenage boy might carve into the back of a friend’s head as a laugh, with swoops, swirls and an arrow-like quality that’s apparently fashionable in this dystopian world.
2) Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare in Love
While Paltrow’s bound bosom got a little more attention, the boyish moustache and soul patch which she sports when manning it up makes her one of the industry’s best looking bearded ladies.
1) Bruce Willis – What Just Happened
The semi-satirical comedy film in which this wonderful beard features is unfortunately terrible. But the absolutely amazing mass of fur adorning the chin, cheeks and lips of Mr Willis, who plays a version of himself, needs to be seen to be believed. Glorious.