by Jim Gibbons
Hollywood has a long love affair with history that rivals some of cinema’s greatest romances. While mustaches may not be tremendously hip nowadays, many fine films take place in eras where the ’stache was much more commonplace. Though Movember—the men’s health charity event where gentlemen grow and groom mustaches to raise funds for the Livestrong and Prostate Cancer Foundations—is a relatively young fundraiser, ’stache-growing participants can look to the past for present-day mustache motivation.
Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine in “Inglourious Basterds”
Sure, Aldo Raine’s World War II-era ’stache may not have helped his ability to pull off a proper Italian accent, but that certainly didn’t stop this mustachioed soldier from killing more than his fair share of Nazis—one of history and cinema’s most recognizable groups of villains. Groomed to perfection in the field and undercover, Raine’s mustache was as easily recognizable as his big f—ing knife!
Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Gandhi in “Gandhi”
Portraying one of history’s most famous mustachioed leaders—a man renowned worldwide for his innovations in non-violent civil disobedience—is no small task, but to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in the process… not too shabby, Sir Kingsley. Doing justice to a personage, mustache and all, that’s printed on India’s currency is a pretty impressive feat for a movie mustache. Just sayin’.
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in “Gone With The Wind”
Could a ’stacheless man have uttered the line “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” with enough charisma to solidify its place as one of the most recognizable lines in movie history? I think not! Behind the whiskers may have been a set of false teeth responsible for some truly awful breath, but that mustache… So debonair!
Daniel Day Lewis as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York” and Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”
Few mustaches boast as many award nominations and wins as that of Daniel Day Lewis, but that’s what happens when you rock a serious soup strainer in two tremendous films. What else would you expect from an actor committed to staying in character on set other than complete commitment to his lip whiskers as well? Make no mistake, this mustache will drink your milkshake.
Omar Sharif as Dr. Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago in “Doctor Zhivago”
Not many men can claim to have sported a ’stache that was banned in the Soviet Union, but Omar Sharif can. It takes a hirsute man of a certain fortitude to make it through the Bolshevik Revolution and Sharif brought this beloved fictional doctor/poet to life in memorable fashion—a fashion so powerful that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was threatened by it. That’s some mo’ power for ya!
Jude Law as Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock Holmes”
Sherlock Holmes’ steadfast companion has been interpreted in a number of ways, but has not often been depicted with the Hollywood good looks he had when Guy Ritchie chose Jude Law for the role. But even with a mainstream makeover, the popular Watson trait they couldn’t ditch was that smart mustache. This recent cinematic adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories may have strayed far from the source material, but kudos for keeping the ’stache!
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla in “The Prestige”
Bowie is a man who’s sported many memorable looks throughout his career. Adding another dapper disguise to his ensemble as inventor Nikola Tesla was made all the more awesome by his stylish ’stache—an electrifying look!
Ken Watanabe as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in “Letters from Iwo Jima”
To paraphrase an old saying, you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima” shined a light on the other side of a World War II conflict that enlightened American audiences. At the forefront of this effort in seeing how the other side lived was Ken Watanabe’s General Kuribayashi and his stalwart ’stache, a mustachioed leader who never lost sight of his honor.
Rupert Friend as Prince Albert in “The Young Victoria”
The great boon that Hollywood heartthrobs in period pieces deliver unto modern day mustache-wearers is that they instill a sense of romanticism in the fuzzy upper lip that ’70s retro chic just can’t achieve. Rupert Friend as the Emily Blunt/Queen Victoria-wooing Prince Albert is a prime example. Deftly playing the role of a long dead royal that makes millions of modern woman wonder what’s it like to be romanced by a man with a mustache, well, you’ve done a service to Movember participants worldwide, Mr. Friend!
Jim Gibbons is an assistant editor at Dark Horse Comics and a third year Movember participant. You can follow his mustache growth progress and donate to his Movember efforts at http://mobro.co/jimgibbons, and follow him on Twitter at @EnemyOfPeanuts.