When actresses go for the gold, they wash out the blond

Less makeup means greater Oscar hopes

Pop Culture

November 16, 2003|By Karen Heller | Karen Heller,KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

This is how you, an average mortal, know when a movie star is being serious, and wants to be taken seriously as an "actress": She dyes her hair dark.

Correction: She stops dyeing her hair blond. Goes back to her roots. Literally. And removes half her makeup.

In other words: She starts to look a lot like an average mortal.

These are the dark months of Hollywood, when movie stars become serious actresses, letting their roots and the circles beneath their eyes grow dark, all in an effort to have Oscar gold brighten their lives.

Meg Ryan appears as a brunette in the current dark thriller In the Cut. She did this in Courage Under Fire. She usually does this when she tires of being perennially perky, the box office's leading romantic comedienne. She might as well slap a "For Your Consideration, Academy Members" label across her chest.

In The Hours, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf was a frizzy brunette with a sizable honker, and ended up winning an Oscar. She also dyed her hair dark for her new film, The Human Stain, which may net her another nomination.

Shedding her makeup and wearing frumpy clothing in Monster's Ball, Halle Berry won an Oscar, though the truth is that even without much makeup she's impossibly gorgeous. Berry and the equally scrumptious Penelope Cruz, already brunettes and highly remunerated cosmetic and fragrance models, go makeup-less mano a mano in Gothika, opening later this month.

Cameron Diaz did it in Gangs of New York and Being John Malkovich; Charlize Theron goes brunet and plainer as a serial killer in Monster, opening nationwide early next year.

The positive side of all this is that it indicates brunettes are worth taking seriously, perhaps more seriously than blondes. On the other side, it means brunettes are dull and normal and average and common. And blondes still have more fun and become movie stars or models or cheerleaders. And nothing has changed since the advent of peroxide as a life-altering tonsorial tool.

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