The Evolution of Brad Pitt’s Hair In Accordance With His Acting Career

They say “manners maketh the man.” Well, manners went out the window as soon as men discovered Tinder. Today, it’s the hairstyle that maketh the man.

Hair maketh the man attractive. Hair can maketh the man sort of creepy-looking. Hair can even maketh the man look like a side character from Tiger King

Still, perhaps no actor has wielded the power of his luscious locks more than Hollywood icon, Mr. Brad Pitt. He’s sported every style from frosted tips to platinum blonde to the man bun. In many ways, his hair journey has been mirrored by his journey as an actor.

As Brad’s hair grew, so grew his depth and range. Sometimes he went lighter. Sometimes he went darker. Sometimes he made films that, like his hair, were just too darn long. When he hit major success, Brad became expensive. So did his haircuts. So here we take a deeper look at the evolution of Brad Pitt’s career, as told through his various hairstyles.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

As Brad stood shirtless, brandishing a hairdryer in Thelma & Louise, little did he know it would be an omen of some truly groundbreaking hairstyles to come. But not yet. The year was 1991 and Brad was still somewhat unknown. He took on a few minor guest roles on soap operas, and, despite the fact that his career didn’t take off immediately, he managed to avoid playing a corpse on Law & Order. But when he landed Thelma & Louise, he became America’s favourite cowboy-hat wearing small town criminal. Was it the cowboy hat audiences fell in love with? The perfect coif underneath it? Or the 1980s hairdryer he’s waving that screams, “Yes, I read GQ’s style tips for men and if Queer Eye existed in 1991 I’d be taking my cues from Jonathan Van Ness.”

Legends of the Fall & Interview With a Vampire (1994)

Suddenly, it’s 1994. Tonya Harding plans an attack on Nancy Kerrigan, the world is just figuring out who Monica Lewinsky is, and Brad Pitt is growing out his luscious locks for the first time. Growing out hair like that requires commitment. It requires dedication. It requires a lot of expensive shampoos. Those are all the things Brad took with him through two iconic ’90s films: Interview with a Vampire and Legends of the Fall. They were quality films, but Brad also learned an important lesson that year: when you get a long sort of dated haircut, you’ll get cast in long sort of dated movies.

Se7en (1995)

That’s when Brad decided to spice things up with a spiky chop in 1995. It was, in a word, fierce (which is also the word critics used to describe his performance in 12 Monkeys). He traded in his luscious pretty boy look for something a little bit edgier. In fact, he was so edgy, he made a movie called Se7en. (Not Seven, but Se7en). He earned four million (or should we say 4our million) for the flick, which bought enough hair product to keep his spiky do intact for the next two years.

Meet Joe Black (1998)

Meet Joe Black premiered in 1998. But honestly, audiences were more excited to meet Blonde Brad. The late ’90s were big for Brad. He was entering the Hollywood elite. His acting was inspired by famous co-stars, like Anthony Hopkins. Meanwhile, his haircuts were inspired by famous girlfriends, like Gwyneth Paltrow. Did Brad and Gwyneth have the exact same haircut? Yes, they did. But give them a break. When you’re making big-budget cheesy ’90s movies, you’ve got to have a big budget cheesy ’90s haircut. So whether you’re breaking rules in Meet Joe Black or breaking hearts Shakespeare in Love, you’re still turning up on the red carpet in sweeping blonde bangs.

Fight Club & Ocean’s Eleven (1999)

In 1999, Brad debuted his frosted tips. They were an opportunity for him to try roles that were a little more layered, and a little less clear cut. He played Tyler Durden in Fight Club and Rusty Ryan in Ocean’s Eleven. They were characters who wobbled between light and dark as much as Brad’s own haircut. And, of course, Brad also earned an Emmy nomination for his frosty reunion with Rachel Green on Friends.

Troy (2004)

In 2004, every girl discovered she had an Achilles heel for Achilles. And the reason was clear: it was Brad’s sun-kissed sweat-soaked beach waves in Troy. The haircut was iconic — equal parts sleek and grungy. So was Brad. He was remaking the 8th century BC epic poem, the Iliad, but he was doing a rock and roll version of it. It was long sure, but like Brad’s hair, it was stylized, modernized, and full of killer waves.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

In 2005, Brad Pitt said goodbye to his first marriage and (more tragically) to his luscious golden locks. It was the year of the deadly buzz cut — a haircut that felt as generic as his title character that year, Mr. Smith. At the time, rumors were circulating that Brad was having an affair with onscreen costar Angelina Jolie. While it generated buzz for the movie, it was honestly not a good look. (And neither was the buzzcut).

The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007) & The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Then there was the curious case of the dark slicked back cut. In 2008, audiences were introduced to Benjamin Button, a man who seemed to age in reverse (and reintroduced to Brad Pitt, a man who didn’t seem to age at all). To accompany the ageless role, Brad stepped out with a timeless dark hairstyle. And, for Brad, these times were dark indeed. He became a murderous outlaw (The Assassination of Jesse James), a murderous assassin (Inglorious Basterds), and, most dismally, a dim-witted low-level personal trainer (Burn After Reading).

World War Z (2013)

There is only one man who can carry a pointless plotless CGI trainwreck like World War Z, and still make it look cool. It’s the same guy who can carry off shaggy shoulder-length ombre hair and still make that look cool. By 2013, Brad had done everything there was to do in Hollywood. His choices, in films as in hair, were getting experimental. They were also pretty questionable. Still, because he’s Brad Pitt, he could pull it off. (By “it” we mean battle scenes with CGI zombies as well as ombre dip dye).

The Counselor (2013)

Brad might’ve saved the planet in World War Z, but at the end of 2013, he really gave us something to live for — it was his man bun. 2013 was named the “International Year of Quinoa” (for some reason), but it felt a lot more like “International Year of Man buns.” And Brad was leading the charge (on the man buns at least, not sure about the quinoa). He dazzled in 12 Years a Slave and The Counselor. In fact, audiences probably needed some counselling to get over the intensity of this hairstyle.

The Big Short (2015)

By 2015 it was curtain up on Brad’s curtain bangs. Why did Brad get bangs? He wasn’t a 30-something woman going through an emotional crisis. He wasn’t a 20-something woman trying to hide persistent forehead acne. Instead, was a 51-year-old man making a movie about the financial crisis. The Big Short was all about roasting big banks for their greed and mistakes. But nothing was a bigger mistake than these bangs.

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Once upon a time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt stumbled onto our screens. He was charming and playful and versatile, (and so was his hair). He was a guy who could really do it all, from comedies to dramas, from frosted tips to luscious locks. His 2019 film, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, paid homage to all that. Over the course of his career, Brad made Westerns, action flicks and period pieces. He revisits all these genres in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. He’d been blonde, brunette, shaggy and clean-shaven; his hairstyle here achieves all these things at once. 2019 Brad is vintage nostalgia at its best (paired with yellow Hawaiian shirts at their worst).

Did Brad Pitt’s iconic hairstyles really make his career? Did hair here maketh the man? Most people would say no — that it was a combination of hard work, sheer talent and a million acting classes. But those people would be wrong, because it was definitely the hair.

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