You can forget your hipster, quinoa munching, chai latte sipping, wanko beards. Here we celebrate the true beards of cinema. The beards of power, of distinguishability, of magic, of evil, of the bloke stuck in the Antarctic who can’t be arsed to shave or maybe it’s just a bit cold.
These are my top 5 beards of cinema.
- Ian McKellen in Lord of The Rings Trilogy/The Hobbit Trilogy
No beard list would be complete without an epic wizard beard. I could have gone for Saruman but I am saving Christopher Lee for my ‘What Cher would have looked like without the surgery’ and ‘Best Wizard Fingers’ lists. McKellen’s grubby, lanky yet oddly glorious chin wig gives Gandalf that all important distinguished gravitas. He looks like a wizard who’s been in scraps, been around Middle Earth a bit and knows what he is talking about. Try to imagine him yelling ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’ clean shaven… you can’t can you. It doesn’t bloody work.
- Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Oh Alan, my Alan. To be honest, the late, great Sir Alan of Rickman has had some cracking facial garnish in his film career, see the quality moustache in Truly, Madly, Deeply, the wonderfully manicured slimline feature of his lower face in Die Hard, and the seedy moustache coupled with lower lip hair nubbin in Bottle Shock, but for me the piece de resistance is his deathly dark and malevolent mush in Prince of Thieves. I’ll admit now i re-watched Prince of Thieves last night over a bucket of fried chicken at a mate’s house so this particular beard is fresh in my mind. It is glorious though. No patches, no wispy bits, just proper full coverage, moving and molding around Rickman’s sneering chin as he yells at the guards to ‘CLEEOOOOWSE THE GATE!’
- Chia Hui Lui in Kill Bill 1 & 2
It’s a fake; we know this. But a proper homage to old school martial arts films wouldn’t be complete without a kung fu master sporting a ludicrous, glossy beard, with some fucking gloriously OTT eyebrows to finish the look. Riffing on the White Lotus films of yore and the Bak Mei legend, Tarantino ups the facial hair ante and dons Chia Hui Lui with one of the most striking looks in modern film. How Lui manages to complete any fight sequences with that hairy face tail whipping around his persons i will never know. Either way, it all looks cool as shit.
- Mr T. in Rocky III
I spent years arguing with my ex about whether Rocky III was superior to Rocky IV or vice versa. It was an argument that was never settled. He maintains Rocky IV is superior because Ivan Drago and because Rocky defeats Communism by avenging Apollo Creed’s death. While this is all well and good, I would also mount my defence by saying Rocky III had Thunderlips, the emotional implosion due to Mickey’s death, EYE OF THE TIGER (!!), the best homo-erotic training montage ever committed to film, and of course, the one and the only, Clubber Lang. I may be biased here by being a big fan of the mutton chop look, but Clubber Lang’s epic chops combined with the delightful mohawk perched upon the dome of his head gives him a look like no other.
- Kurt Russell in The Thing
The absolute beard of beards. If there was ever an Academy Award for Best Beard then Kurt Russell as MacCready would win every single year regardless of the fact that The Thing came out in 1982. It doesn’t matter. His beard is the milestone to which all other movie beards are measured against. No one has yet come close to meeting its majesty. Kurt Russell, like our old friend Alan up there, has a varied history with cinematic facial hair and has come close to usurping himself (observe the wonders on his face in Bone Tomahawk and The Hateful Eight) but i don’t think anything will top his turn in The Thing. We see bored MacCready beard, angry MacCready beard and frosty MacCready beard, all looking full and luscious, enveloping his lower face in a nice furry blanket. Add to the mix his utterly sublime hair do then i am afraid we only one winner here folks.