Blond villains have more fun
Tim Roth
Credit: Corbis Sygma

It’s easy to pick out the evil henchman in the new James Bond flick, ”Tomorrow Never Dies.” No, don’t look for a villain with poison-spiked shoes, jugular-slashing metal teeth or a bowler that can lop off a head at 50 feet. Just watch for the fashion statement that’s all the rage with today’s action-movie villains: ultra-bleached-blond hair. In the world of super villainy, blonds DO have more fun… assuming that strangling, maiming and shooting qualifies as ”fun.”

In the latest Bond adventure, which opens today, the unsmiling, Germanic-accented and brightly sun-topped villain Mr. Stamper (played by Gotz Otto) lives only to kill. He speaks little and fires a big gun. Similarly, one of the season’s most notorious killing machines — Bruce Willis in ”The Jackal” — sports a cropped blond mane (when he isn’t in disguise).

This form of yellow peril has an impressive celluloid history. Consider the following evil genius hall of fame: Jeremy Irons went blond in ”Die Hard With a Vengeance” and Gary Busey did the same in ”Lethal Weapon.” As the demonic replicant in ”Blade Runner,” Rutger Hauer, a natural towhead, stressed his evil nature by dying his hair even whiter. And, as the most sadistic, ear-snipping thug in ”Reservoir Dogs,” Michael Madsen joined the light-haired crowd on a technicality. Although his hair was dark, his name was Mr. Blonde.

Some think this trend goes deeper than a fashion statement. ”Any time you bleach a man or woman’s hair until it’s almost white, psychologically you’re bleaching out all the goodness from them,” says Brad Johns, a New York City hair colorist to such celebrities as Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and model Marcus Schenkenberg. ”The color is not warm and buttery. It’s severe and icy.”

With millions of consumers paying good money to revile blond-on-blond screen villains, are hair-care companies worried that they may be too closely associated with bad guys? Clairol, which manufactures the bleaching dye ”Basic White,” is decidedly upbeat about the use of its products by on-screen lunatics. ”We’re happy we can provide products that achieve these looks without causing damage to their hair,” says Director of Publicity Lisa Carvalho. That’s lucky. Think how evil these villains would be if they had to deal with split ends too.

Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Movie
  • 119 minutes