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Three Decades Of Mops: A Tom Hanks Hair-Spective

Though Angels & Demons isn't exactly the most hotly-anticipted movie of the summer, many of us have one thing to look forward to this Friday-- Tom Hanks' hair. Promises were made to get rid of the ridiculous mop he wore in The Da Vinci Code, and early images show Ron Howard, Hanks and his hairdresser to be true to their word. Take it from Nicolas Cage-- a decent hairdo is your first step toward getting your audience to take you seriously.

But the Da Vinci 'do wasn't the first crime Hanks committed against his follicles, and sadly, probably won't be the last. In honor of Angels & Demons, we're taking a look back at Hanks' Hair History, with a notable hat thrown in for good measure. Yeah, you all remember the Cast Away beard and the Forrest Gump buzz cut, but what about the time he wore a hairnet onscreen, or the dapper fedora? Yeah, that's right-- you're curious now.

THE 80s

Bosom Buddies.

In a pop culture landmark I will never fully understand, our first introduction to Hanks was in this TV show about cross-dressing pals. Setting aside the fact that neither of these guys makes a remotely convincing woman, that wig on Hanks actually works-- given the 'fros he managed to grow later in the decade, it seems like something he could have pulled off growing himself.

Family Ties.

See what I mean? Hanks had a three-episode guest appearance as the "drunkle," a corporate executive who was an idol for lil' Alex P. Keaton but also, y'know, an alcoholic. Check out that full mop! Maybe this is the look that Da Vinci-era Robert Langdon was trying to recapture.


Newsflash: There was a movie version of Dragnet in 1987, and at one point it required Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks to dress like this. I haven't done any further research on the film, because I'd really rather preserve the mystery. But despite all the hair disasters we're about to witness in the coming decades, everything from this point really is a step forward.

The Oscars.

No date on this photo, but based on the baby face and the plethora of hair, i"m putting this somewhere in the late 80s. For the most part this is the 'do he was rocking for the bulk of the decade, except... are those highlights I see? Blond highlights? Oh God, Hollywood really had gotten to him by that point. It would have been a hairdressing misfire and quickly forgotten if it hadn't been the look he chose for the most photographed evening of the year. The 80s really were bad for everyone, I guess.

THE 90s

A League of Their Own.

All grown up and cutting the hair closer now, Hanks hid his head through most of the movie with that red baseball cap, and was all the more hilarious because of it. It's a pretty quick transition between overgrown kid in Big (1988) and washed-up alcoholic baseball player in this movie (1992). But I guess it's all part of preparing audiences for what was coming next.


Ah, this is the big one-- the first Oscar-winning role, one of the first mainstream actors to ever take on a gay character, and one of Hollywood's first, laughably late attempts to address the AIDS crisis. Hanks' shorn head here is just part of a stunning transformation into a man wracked by illness, not to mention the stigma of having the disease when it was seen as simply a gay problem. Yeah, the snark on this one just isn't coming. Moving on.

Forrest Gump.

Was there anyone having a better 90s than Tom Hanks? This guy was everywhere, and even though the look in Forrest Gump wasn't doing him any favors-- is the pseudo-flat top a military thing, a Southern thing, or a mentally challenged thing?-- it did nab him that back-to-back Oscar. And don't forget the ZZ Top beard Forrest was sporting at the end of his series of cross-country runs-- but we're saving the facial hair for later.

Apollo 13.

Completing the mid-90s hat-trick of awesome performances, and also reviving the Ron Howard partnership that has us where we are today. You can't mess with hair when you're an astronaut trying to save your crew! Jim Lovell had a no-nonsense haircut so he could focus on other things. This is probably the last point in Hanks' life that he could get away with hair that short, given the cruel fate of age and facial bloat. But whatever, I love this movie, and everything about it--hair included-- works here.

THE 00s

Cast Away.

The 00s have been Hanks' most creative hair decade by far, and he kicked them off in style, revisiting the bleached-blond look with much greater, much realistic success. There's still no one in this world who could pull off this movie as well as he did, and the physical transformation, from the weight loss to the bushy beard, all went toward selling it. It's probably the only context in which "Tom Hanks dreadlocks" is not immediately laughable."

Road to Perdition.

A fedora! That's the solution for the receding hairline-- a totally, totally sweet fedora, not to mention a partnership with Paul Newman that did justice to both actors' legacies. Unlike the silly policeman's hat from The Green Mile that perched on top of his head like a bowl in the poster (opens in new tab), the fedora suits Hanks and the time period equally well. He's grown up into America's father, and that's exactly how we want him to look.

The Ladykillers.

Oh, Coen Brothers, what have you done? Of all the Hanks hair messes of the decade, this Colonel Sanders-inspired 'do has got to be the worse. I've never seen the movie, so I have no idea if it gets worse from here, but I'm imagining it must. I guess after this, The Da Vinci Code felt like an improvement.

The Da Vinci Code.

Is this supposed to be better? Hanks looking like a Nic Cage imitator who's been a little liberal with the hair gel? I get what they're going for here, the rakish professor who is far too busy with matters of the mind to make frequent trips to the salon. But the whole thing looked like a dead animal on Hanks' hair, even though I suspect it's probably his own hair. Fan outcry was totally justified here.

Charlie Wilson's War.

Yeah, nothing about this hair is any better than Da Vinci, but here it's actually serving a purpose, turning Hanks into an 80s Southern Representative in pretty much one swipe of the comb. The hair may as well have been plucked off of John Edwards' well-groomed head. The movie itself was mostly a whiff, but Hanks was hilarious in his role, and for once a giant rug on his head actually served him well.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend