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Sacha Baron Cohen brings his trademark ridicu-shock humor to his new film "The Dictator," but it may be his beard that steals the show.
He plays Admiral General Aladeen, deposed dictator of the (fictional) Republic of Wadiya, who flees to the U.S. when his country converts to democracy. As a dictator, he's used to ruling with an iron fist, an incorrigible sense of righteous cruelty, and a thick, bushy beard that could house several terrified baby sparrows.
Aladeen may feel like a fish out of water in New York City, but he'd feel right at home among Hollywood's most magnificent beards of all time. Here's our ode to the greatest facial hair in movies, in 15 parts.
Zach Galifianakis, 'The Hangover' (2009)
Could there be a Zach Galifianakis without a beard? The offbeat comic's schtick entails a decided lack of shaving, a quality that came in handy when he played sad-sack brother-of-the-bride to Justin Bartha's doomed groom. In real life and fiction, Galifianakis is rockin' the "Full-on Grizzly Adams."
Tom Hanks, 'Cast Away' (2000)
Playing a plane-crash survivor stuck on a proverbial desert island for years on end, Hanks goes through an impressively real physical transformation (from doughy, clean-shaven executive to the owner of a sinewy bod and the best "Beachy Beard" ever seen).
Jeff Bridges, 'The Big Lebowski' (1998)
In one of the most beloved performances of all time, as Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, Bridges nails shiftless-aging-hippie-loser perfectly, and his unkempt, White Russian–soaked whiskers are the ultimate signifier of a man whose life is on autopilot; this is the ultimate "I-Don't-Give-a-S**t Beard."
Chia Hui Liu, 'Kill Bill: Vol. 2' (2004)
This ancient Kung Fu master, who trained the titular "Bill" and his band of assassins, sports one of cinema's classic white, wispy "Fu Manchu Beards," one that only grows in after double-digits of accruing Zen wisdom.
Al Pacino, 'Serpico' (1973)
In this movie based on a true story, we get a veritable Pacino facial-hair variety-pak, as he goes from clean-shaven police-academy grad to Village Person -- mustachioed beat cop to full-on, Christ-style beard-sporter. His lack of shaving correlates to the development of his character: He evolves from a wide-eyed newbie civil servant to, as the film's original tagline read, "The most dangerous man alive—an honest cop."
Bill Murray, 'The Life Aquatic' (2004)
As Steve Zissou, his thinly veiled portrayal of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Murray rocks the "Kempt, European Gentleman Beard." We sign up for Team Zissou.
Robin Williams, 'Good Will Hunting' (1997)
Johnny Depp, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' (2003-2007)
As everyone knows, Depp has based his enduring character Captain Jack Sparrow on the sinewy, death-proof rock star Keith Richards; his natty, tangled crumb-catcher, adorned with various bits of shells, purloined coins, and more than a little sea salt, is the ultimate "Pirate Booty Beard."
Ian McKellan, 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy (2001-2003)
In this beloved fantasy series, McKellan plays a wisdom-spouting elder and a truly spectacular snow-white facial-hair confection that could be called "The Head-Shop Carved-Wizard-Bong Beard."
Samuel L. Jackson, 'Jackie Brown' (1997)
Playing Ordelle Robbie, another classic suave, jive-talking Tarantino bad guy (this time he's an arms dealer), Jackson sports one of the nastiest facial-hair-based signatures ever committed to film: a tiny, single-braid, bead-embellished clot of hair hanging from under his chin; a little thing we like to call "The Uni-dread."
Gerard Butler, '300' (2006)
Complementing his closely cropped, luxuriantly oiled Ceasar cut to play King Leonidas, Butler's short, chiseled-cheekbones-highlighting whiskers are the ultimate "Grecian Chic Beard," 480 B.C.–style.
Mike Myers, 'The Love Guru' (2008)
More like a full head of bouncin' and behavin' hair sprouting from the bottom of his face than whiskers, you can almost smell his "Sandalwood Sage Beard" from the screen.
Kurt Russell, 'The Thing' (1982)
Russell plays R.J. MacReady, the leader of a team of scientists at an Antarctic base infested, naturally, with invading alien spirits. He sports sexy face fur that evokes "Hotel California"–era Eagles. When he goes outside the compound, his beard gets all hoary with frost -- that's how you can tell it's really cold out there.
Salma Hayek, 'Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant' (2009)
This first film based on the "Cirque du Freak" series of British young-adult novels stars Hayek as Madame Truska, a creature who can grow and retract a scissor-proof beard at will. When she chooses facial fur, it's copious and unstyled, thus best described as "The Part-time Phish Fan."
Originally published on September 8, 2010.