Steve Martin had his trademark grade hair. Groucho Marx had his cigar and his painted-on mustache. Zach Galifianakis of course has a mammoth beard. Or at least, he did have a mammoth beard. Us Weekly is reporting that the star of "The Hangover" and "Due Date" has trimmed down his facial hair to just a handlebar mustache. Galifianakis had actually shaved his beard once before for his first hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live." No fanfare was made of it; he just showed up one sketch with just a mustache, and a fake beard was given to him for when the cast says "good night" at the end of the show.
Beards have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks to stars like Galifianakis who have helped bring them back into Vogue. While a lot of stars still stick with the clean-shaven look, or allow themselves at most a tightly groomed "five o'clock shadow," we thought it could be fun to think of a few actors who have grown beards for films, and which have pulled it off the best.
Tom Hanks in "Cast Away" - One year Hanks showed up the Oscars and walked the red carpet in a giant beard. Everyone figured it was for whatever film the Academy Award winning actor was shooting next. That film was "Cast Away," the story of a FedEx employee who's the only survivor of a plane crash. Most of the film is Hanks talking to himself or his friend that he fashioned out of a volleyball, "Wilson." Hanks' beard becomes sun-bleached and wiry, and it helped to really sell the audience on the idea that this man was stranded on a deserted island for a long, long time.
Jeff Bridges in "The Big Lebowski" - It's a movie about mistaken identity, kidnapping and extortion. But it's also ridiculously funny and brilliant. As the main character, a slacker with just enough drive and ambition to bowl in a league with his two best friends, Jeff Bridges let himself go to play The Dude. He gained some wait and grew out his hair and beard which was a perfect salt-and-pepper color. To be fair, his beard may have just really long side burns and a big bushy goatee, but we still think it qualifies for this list!
Terrence Stamp in "Superman II" - For his portrayal of Krypton's ultimate gangster, General Zod, venerable British actor Terrence Stamp slicked back his hair and grew a neatly groomed beard. Combined with his all-black jumpsuit, Zod was evil personified. There's no way he'd have been half as creepy without that beard, either.
Will Ferrell in "Anchorman" - In a movie full of yucks, one of the best gags is the over-sized mountain-main style beard that Ferrell's character, Ron Burgundy, grows after he's fired from the Channel 4 News Team. It's as unkempt as the rest of him, and was the perfect companion to the half-gallon of milk that Burgundy drinks on a hot day, leading to one of the films funniest lines, "Milk was a bad choice!"
Honorable Mention: Two Wise and Wizardly Old Men - Of course no discussion of cinematic beardery would be complete without mentioning Sir Alec Guiness in the "Star Wars" franchise as Obi-Wan Kenobi or Sir Ian McKellan in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy as Gandalf. There are many similarities between the stories, actors and beards in question, but one thing is for sure, neither character would seem as wise or powerful without their grey beards.
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- Zach Galifianakis
- Tom Hanks