The mustache is having a moment. Whether it be the popularity of Movember, a resurgence of ’70s trends, or people with facial hair playing around with styles during the pandemic: the mustache is in vogue. The recently released The Gray Man features two favorite leading men in enviable mustaches: Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling.
The mustache can give off a multitude of different vibes – both serious and silly – and there have been notable appearances of the mustache in films ranging from Twilight to Gone With The Wind.
The Villainous ‘Stache
Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook (Hook)
A twirly eccentric mustache that lives up to the mustache of the Disney animated Captain Hook, that seemed to have a life of its own. Dustin Hoffman sports a devious twirling handlebar mustache as the classic antagonist in Steven Spielbergs’ Hook.
The stache adds to his perfect performance as equal parts charming and frightening. It’s quite funny to imagine Captain Hook with his little mustache comb and pot of wax, to make sure he has the perfect intimidating look. David Bowie actually almost played Captain Hook, but it’s unlikely he’d have pulled it off like Hoffman does; stylish as he was.
The Cowboy ‘Stache
Sam Elliott as The Stranger (The Big Lewbowski)
There are some very iconic cowboy mustaches in film, but none have left such an impression in so little time as Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski. Showing up at the very end of the Coen Brothers’ film to impart some advice to Jeff Bridges’ protagonist ‘The Dude’ – and to the audience – the large white stache is impossible not to stare at. It adds to The Stranger’s authority to give us advice, as it gives him a worldly quality and mysterious energy.
During the filming of the scene, Elliot and his mustache had such an effect on the Coens that they didn’t want his scene to end. Elliot recalls (in an interview with Yahoo!) that feeling frustrated at a large number of takes, he snapped at them: “Hey guys, you need to tell me what the f**** you want.’ And they replied, “No, we got it on the third or fourth take, we just like seeing you do it.”
The Dad ‘Stache
Billy Burke as Charlie Swan (Twilight)
Also an example of a great cop mustache, Charlie Swan, Bella’s father in Twilight, has a thick black classic mustache across all four films. Burke decided to grow it so that he would not be recognized so easily, and is hardly spotted by fans in public without it.
He also joked to The Independantthat, “the mustache has a life of its own.” and he had to grow it fresh for each film. The mustache understandably has a passionate fanbase; @charlieswansmustache has almost 11k followers on Instagram.
The Controversial ‘Stache
Henry Cavill as August Walker (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Although impressive in its own right, what makes this mustache so famous is the story behind it. The villainous mustache that Cavill wore in Mission Impossible: Fallout, became a viral story in its own right. Cavill was contractually obligated by the makers of Fallout to keep the stache, as Justice League entered re-shoots and he needed to play clean-cut Superman.
Cavill was under the impression that filming for Justice League had finished when signing on for the sixth Mission Impossible film, however more scenes needed to be added eventually. As a result, Warner Brothers’ made the bizarre decision to digitally remove the mustache (costing around $3 million, according to Esquire) and the result is less than perfect and edged into the uncanny valley.
The Classy ‘Stache
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler (Gone With The Wind)
The epitome of class, except perhaps in the last line of the 1939 classic Hollywood epic Gone With The Wind, Rhett Butler wears a stylish pencil mustache. The debonair look was very popular in the 1940s, Clark Gable kept the stache both on and off the screen.
Adjectives such as dashing, glamorous, and suave come to mind – and the mustache contributes at least 90% to this impression. The professional gambler uses his distinct facial hair- hardly historically accurate- to charm both his opponents and women alike.
The Historical ‘Stache
Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Gangs of New York)
Another iconic handlebar mustache, this magnificent mustache was surely grown by Daniel Day Lewis as part of his ‘method’. A signifier of wealth and power, Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting looks particularly cunning twirling this large stache.
The villain in Gangs of New York is a notorious gang leader whom Leonardo Dicaprio’s Amsterdam seeks to take down to avenge his father. This look was especially popular in the United States near the end of the 19th century, worn by those in the Wild West, and Cutting is right on trend.
The Coincidental ‘Stache
Charlie Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel (The Great Dictator)
There were two very famous men in the 1930s with identical toothbrush mustaches: Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler. The film The Great Dictator basically wrote itself – all on a mustache. Although Chaplin was sporting the mustache long before Hitler’s rise to power, the 1940 film made a mockery of the dictator in Chaplin’s signature farcical style, becoming a terrific political satire.
A silent film star, this was Chaplin’s first speaking role, as he makes a poignant and ferocious speech at the end of the film thats often called the best monologue of all time. The mustache wasn’t real however and was auctioned off in 2004 by Christies auction house for a huge £11,950.
The Animated ‘Stache
Danny Devito as The Lorax (The Lorax)
Although Danny Devito does not technically wear this mustache – he certainly didn’t grow it – he definitely gives it its character. The Lorax has facial hair that must take up at least 20% of his whole body, and bushy yellow eyebrows to match.
Fantastically animated, it bounces along with him as he strives desperately to grow trees in Illumination Entertainment’s 2012 film, based on the Dr. Seuss story. The makers designed a mustache that unquestionably lives up to the author’s much-loved original illustrations.
The Sleaze ‘Stache
Matt Dillon as Pat Healy
Desperately pining after Cameron Diaz’s titular character in There’s Something About Mary, Pat Healy wears a tiny pencil mustache. The perfectly shaped thin stache adds to the smarmy vibe of the low-rent private investigator as he stoops lower and lower in his efforts to woo Mary.
With a comedic quality, so outlandish and out of fashion, and a touch of irony, the pencil is historically worn by those sophisticated and trustworthy – think of actor Errol Flynn or the cult director John Waters.
The ’70s ‘Stache
Ryan Gosling as Holland March (The Nice Guys)
Another private investigator, but with a heart of gold, Holland March has the perfect ’70s stache. Although Ryan Gosling pulls of any kind of facial hair, this thick classic mustache suits him to a tee. Along with a sunset-colored outfit and some cool shades, Gosling looks like he has stepped out of a catalog from the summer of 1977.
March uses the stache as an accessory for his bravado – to convince his customers he will handle everything, and to intimidate those to be investigated. However, after watching The Nice Guys, it is sure that Russell Crowe’s Jackson Healy is the muscle – no mustache required.