What’s the point of a wig? Vanity. And as Kramer was quick to point out to Jerry’s landlord (in order to distract him from the fact that Newman was having an affair with his wife), actors are the most vain people on earth. Sure, every now and then you’ll see a thespian prance about wig-free, proudly baring his shiny pate to the world; but for the most part, Hollywood is full of closeted bald men, hiding what they perceive their fans will find as a weakness.
Some actors, like Billy Bob Thornton, continue the charade outside the movies, while others commit subterfuge by appearing in public underneath hats:
But what about onscreen? Why are there so many terrible movie wigs when so many millions of dollars are sunk into each film? Maybe all the good wigmakers are employed by royalty, leaving mere apprentice wigwrights to toil in the motion picture industry. Whatever the case, when you see a movie wig, you know it.
What follows is an incomplete list, in no particular order, of what are surely 6 of the most egregious wigs in the history of film.
1. Ben Kingsley in BloodRayne (2006)
I did this one full-sized so you can clearly see that no attempt at all was made to make it look like hair is actually growing from Kingsley’s barren scalp. Instead, it looks as though someone gently draped an otter pelt across his head.
(Honorable mention goes to Michael Madsen’s completely offensive mullet-wig, seen on the right side of the poster, if only because Madsen has a full head of natural hair underneath that monstrosity)
2. Samuel L. Jackson in The Negotiator (1998)
I almost don’t mind the poorly-realized wig, which looks less like hair than the sod that covers a pre-bloom Chia Pet; but I have never, ever in my life seen a black man with hair naturally that color. Or unnaturally that color, either.
Strangely, Jackson had previously been subjected to that same burgundy shade (on a long, ponytailed wig and beard…thing) in 1997’s Jackie Brown. Jackson must have liked both experiences, because he donned this rug in last year’s Jumper:
3. John Travolta in Wild Hogs (2007)
John Travolta’s hair in most movies, or at least in those since he got fat after Pulp Fiction, resembles a papier-mache helmet of sorts. The piece in last year’s surprise hit biker comedy, however, was the worst one yet–an unconvincingly curvacious, shiny, Scotchguarded upside-down bull horn deal with curiously frosted tips that looks to be about an 8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
“But why would Travolta, he of the flowing, dark locks, need to wear wigs for any movie?” some of you are asking. Well, it’s because he secretly has Jack Nicholson’s hairline, as shown in this copyright protected photo I stole off another site:
4. Nicolas Cage in Next (2007)
Nic Cage has made a career out of wearing terrible wigs. The sad thing is that the wigs aren’t bad because they don’t cover up the bald part — on the contrary, they do.
The problem is that while Cage is balding on the back side of his head, and the wigs do cover that, he appears to think the front side is fine. In reality, his hairline is retreating like it owes his face money. Observe the cape-like wig from Next, which lives on the same oddly-sideburn-free family tree as those appearing in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Bankok Dangerous:
5. Billy Bob Thornton in any movie
Billy Bob Thornton probably isn’t wearing a wig in any of his films, but that’s only because he has about 14 million hair transplants. Here he was in Sling Blade:
And here he is in everything since, including real life:
Note the part of his forehead where it looks like a “doctor” jabbed a needle into it repeatedly over the course of several days, with the result that his hairline is about as legitimate as Vichy France. But the change was definitely a success: no longer does Billy Bob look like the mentally-handicapped machete murderer from his breakout film, but instead bears a striking resemblance to every child molester on Earth. Upgrade!
6. Brendan Fraser in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
I included this only because it’s so depressing. Fraser is a fun-loving, boyishly handsome actor who makes crappy movies because he genuinely enjoys doing so, unlike the rest of the dudes on this list (who, evidenced by their press junkets, are self-delusional about the worth of films like BloodRayne and Wild Hogs).
Unfortunately for Fraser there is no Hollywood karma, because in real life he looks like a recovering alcoholic who works at a truck stop outside of Modesto. Thanks to the stellar, earthmoving reporting of The Huffington Post, from which I lifted the following sad picture.