We live in an ever-changing world. Seasons come and go; oceans rise and empires fall. It is said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, but I would venture to add “my passion for hilariously bad wigs” to that list. This is a longstanding passion, and one in which I have every confidence I will remain steadfast. Today, friends, I share that passion with all of you.
The following is a list of some of my favourite bad wigs of adaptation history. For the purposes of this post I have limited myself to classic literature only and excluded comic book adaptations, the latter because my colleagues have already done an excellent job at cataloging the bad wigs of comic adaptation television and also because it would triple the length of this post. Let us simply acknowledge that Scarlett Johansson has clearly made a powerful and unrelenting enemy in the Marvel wig department and leave it at that (for now).
Without any further ado, I bring you: wigs.
Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker’s Dracula
I can’t put this too high on the list because the point of this post is to gawk at wigs that are unintentionally bad, but I could not in good faith deny you a look at this magnificent thing, this campy delight. It’s a hairline that starts an inch back from his ears! It’s shaped like a heart! It’s a blanched Valentine corona. It somehow both recedes and ascends. It is BEYOND.
It’s obviously much more tame in comparison, but shoutout also to this tendrilled wig Dracula wears later to seduce Winona Ryder. This looks hilariously to me like when you are attempting that perfect TV hair but instead you curl it just a little too tightly. Vlad, let it fall out a little! Finger-comb! Don’t leave the house just yet!
Elizabeth Taylor, Little Women (1949)
This one isn’t necessarily egregious, but it certainly isn’t right. Aside from the general off feeling of seeing one of Hollywood’s most famous raven-haired beauties go gold, there is altogether too much strawberry in this blonde for the colour to look natural, and Elizabeth Taylor’s too-dark eyebrows don’t help (dear Riverdale, please take note). Sorry, Amy: the lime thing was nbd but in this case you should be ashamed of yourself.
Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Ewan MacGregor, Emma (1996)
“Crispy” and “deep-fried” are words that should conjure up an image of, say, chicken tenders or perhaps a plate of potato wedged, but certainly not someone’s hair. Sadly there are no better words to describe Frank Churchill’s ratty, dried-out orange mane. His hair looks like someone attempted the Rachel with a rusty kitchen knife. No wonder Emma didn’t want to marry him. Good luck, Jane Fairfax!
Tom Hardy, Wuthering Heights (2009)
Alec Guinness, Great Expectations (1946)
Juliette Binoche, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights
Antonio Banderas, Interview with the Vampire
Some might say I’m stretching the definition of both “classic” and “literary” here but bear with me. Like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Interview with the Vampire is a film that has a lot going on for it, bad-wigs-wise. There isn’t really a truly good wig in the bunch; Tom Cruise in particular suffers from the same unsettling blondness and hue issues as Elizabeth Taylor in Little Women. But Antonio Banderas surely takes the fluffy, strangely-voluminous nylon cake with this Morticia Addams nightmare. I can say most sincerely that I have seen better wigs in the discount bin at Party City on November 1st. Someone drive a stake into this thing.
Kiera Knightley, Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity
Oh boy. This wig. This is a wig and a half. This is a wig of cinematic legend. It’s breathtaking. It’s an architectural marvel. There are buildings with less structural integrity. A lot has been said about this wig, but in closing, allow me to direct your attention to two perfect pieces of wig criticism/celebration: Paramount production head Buddy DeSylva’s quip that “we hired Barbara Stanwyck and here we got George Washington,” and this glorious post.
Thank you. My work here is done. Please now fill the comments with your own favourite terrible wigs.