A brief visual history of bowl cuts in movies
The bowl cut
Some things just won’t die.
Like "Duck Face” or that sexy KFC fried chicken sandwich Halloween costume, the bowl cut just keeps slithering back into our current cultural discourse. Why? We asked Alessandro Bertolazzi, an Oscar-winning hair and makeup designer who gave Timothée Chalamet his bowl cut in Netflix's The King, to find out.
“It's become so popular because people like changing it and it's a continuing evolution,” he says. “People like it to be like an immitation of becoming like [the stars]. I don't think there's one specific [thing], but I'm not really interested...I don't care. I don't think about it.” (Which, fair.)
There's not much to the bowl cut. It's the look of your parents placing a bowl on your head as a kid and cutting around the edges. It's been around since ancient times, which is why it also makes a comeback in The King. Director David Michôd told EW, "There’s really only one existing portrait of Henry V. It’s a famous bowl haircut."
As for Hollywood history, the bowl cut has, for the most part, remained the same, though the context hasn't. Here's a brief look at the hairdo's onscreen evolution.
Moe Howard in The Three Stooges (1922-1970)
Given its once goofy, juvenile look, the bowl cut was often used for comedy, notably through Moe Howard's Moe in The Three Stooges, the comedy troupe that graced the small and big screens for decades.
Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek (1966-2013)
The severe edges reflect the no-nonsense man that is Spock on the Enterprise deck.
Agnés Varda in life (≈1950s-1960s)
Late film icon Agnés Varda gets all the passes till the end of time for embracing the bowl cut. Like everything, including the French New Wave film movement, the filmmaker made it her own.
The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night (1964)
The Beatles and their bowl cuts make their feature film debut in this borderline mockumentary-style look inside a day in the life of the band mates.
Barret Oliver in The NeverEnding Story (1984)
The saddest part about The NeverEnding Story, other than everything around that Artrax scene, is the look Barret Oliver is serving as Bastian.
Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber (1994)
The bowl cut's comedic comeback came again with Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber, which spawned more bowl cuts in Dumb and Dumberer and Dumb and Dumber To. It became referred to as "The Lloyd." In 2014, Carrey proceeded to ruin other peoples' lives by giving pedestrians bowl cuts for Jimmy Kimmel.
Eric Lloyd in The Santa Clause (1994)
Charlie Calvin became the bowl cut poster child for '90s Millennials.
Nicholas Hoult in About a Boy (2002)
Talk about a glow-up for Mr. Nicholas Hoult.
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2007)
This one is borderline bob and bowl cut, but whatever it is, Javier Bardem was supposed to have said when he saw it for the first time, "Now I won't get laid for the next two months." Paul LeBlanc, a Canadian hairdresser who worked on No Country for Old Men, told The Guardian he translated the look from the Crusades "when knights and Muslims were murdering each other, and this was a typical haircut. It was a dangerous time and we wanted to make Javier timeless and dangerous at first sight."
The character Vector in Despicable Me (2010)
Even animation welcomed the style for a spell.
John Goodman in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Goodman takes credit for this look, modeling it after saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.
Ezra Miller in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Katherine Waterston in Alien: Covenant (2017)
Miller's look had a bigger impact on the history of the bowl cut in cinema than you might think. During a 2016 press event for Alien: Covenant, Katherine Waterston revealed she copied her Fantastic Beast costar's styling for her sci-fi film. “I’d been hanging out with Ezra Miller on that film, and I really loved his dumb haircut from that movie," she said. "So, when I got this job, I was still shooting that.” At least she admitted it looked dumb.
Timothée Chalamet in The King (2019)
Not much workshopping went into Chalamet's look — cinema's freshest bowl cut — in The King.
"The Middle Ages was really simple," Bertolazzi explains. "There are no rules. The only rules were made by the church. So, with the Vatican, there's no sense of the beauty, no sense of aesthetic, no sense of harmony. Nobody cares about looking good at all. The church decides how the men are to be. There's just one cut."
With Chalamet playing Prince Hal, soon to be King Henry V, in the film loosely inspired by the plays of William Shakespeare, Michôd wanted a transformation for his actor.
"I really loved the idea of taking some kind of facsimile of that character from Call Me By Your Name and plunking him in the Middle Ages, but then suddenly this monumental burden is placed upon his shoulders and the transformation begins," the director said. "It felt important to me that the transformation be visible and stark."
You can currently enjoy Chalamet's bowl cut in The King, now playing on Netflix.