Hold on to your ginger-loving seats because Princess Merida – Pixar’s first heroine – descends on June 22 in Brave. To save herself from a trio of inept princes vying for her hand in marriage, Merida grabs her bow and arrow and fights to take control of her fate. Princess Merida also boasts some of the most fiery red hair Hollywood has ever seen, giving these ginger stars of Hollywood – both the natural and wanna-bes – a run for their money…
If there is a king of the Hollywood gingers, it is Robert Redford. His red-headed roots are in his name, and his bright locks have been a quintessential element of his fame for half a century – unphased by aging, hair loss, and the grey scourge. Naturally, this has led some to wonder if Redford’s hair has received a little chemical help at the salon, but we’ll give the Sundance Kid the benefit of the doubt.
If Redford is the Ginger King, Ringwald is likely his Ginger Princess. The bright redhead was John Hughes’ muse in three films – Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink – immortalizing her not only as the face of the ‘80s, but also as the face of high school cinema. There are arguments about the natural color of her hair, which looked brown back in the Facts of Life days, but as she says: “You can get away with a lot when you’re a redhead.”
Forget, for a moment, Lindsay Lohan’s on-going professional, drug, and partying troubles, as well as her previous dye jobs and uber-bleached locks. Before the downward spiral, Lohan was the ultra-redhead It Girl destined to break out of Disney fluff and into mainstream adult success. Her red hair and freckle-laden skin were her trademarks, bringing her success as a child star in films like The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday as well as the cult favorite, Mean Girls.
Jessica Chastain has only been a film actress for the last four years, but she’s already an Oscar nominee with a dramatic hurricane of work including Take Shelter, The Help, and Coriolanus behind her. Her talent can be at least partially attributed to the redheads she admires – Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton and French actress Isabelle Huppert.
As Woody Allen once said in Play It Again, Sam: “I hate the beach. I hate the sun. I’m pale, and I’m redheaded, I don’t tan – I stroke!” His fly-away red curls and thick, black-framed glasses are Allen’s visual signatures. Though the hair has mellowed into a mature grey over recent years, his iconic early work in films like Annie Hall have immortalized him as a leading Hollywood ginger.
When Molly Ringwald left the John Hughes fold, Eric Stoltz entered with Some Kind of Wonderful (and scored fellow redhead Lea Thompson!), but always danced on the outside of mainstream fame. Instead of Brat Packs and epic trips Back to the Future, Stoltz favored diverse fare from the drama of Mask to the blood of Killing Zoe and the history of Little Women. Now his locks are hidden behind the camera, most recently as a go-to director for Glee.
With a Scottish mother, it’s not surprise that Julianne Moore has hair so red she could play the live-action, adult version of Princess Merida. As a child, she was nicknamed “Freckleface Strawberry” after a flavor of powdered drink. Hardly a description now for Moore, one of the most talented and beautiful women in Hollywood.
Isla Fisher broke out of Australia and into Hollywood cinema with Scott Caan’s Dallas 362. In a year, she was Naomi Watts’ bubbly redheaded replacement in I Heart Huckabees, and then a mainstream star thanks to Wedding Crashers. A natural redhead, Fisher once said: “It was great having red hair as a kid, because I had something to blame my temper on. ... I did dye it blonde once, but it backfired, as I had nothing to blame my temper on anymore!”
Between his turns as Opie and Richie Cunningham on two of television’s classic shows, Ron Howard became the good-natured ginger youth of the 20th century. Howard is now a two-time Oscar-winning director, the voice behind the beloved Arrested Development, and the only ginger of note in South Park’s “Ginger Kids” episode. He’s also helping to increased ginger content with his offspring, including daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, also included here!
If Ron Howard is the ginger of the 20th century, Rupert Grint is the ginger of the 21st, so far anyway. As Ron Weasley, he ushered in a new wave of redhead appreciation as Harry’s best friend, sidekick hero, and member of the redheaded Weasley clan. Unlike Ron’s twin brothers, Grint is a natural redhead who both appreciates his hair and itches for a break: “I am a proud ginger and surprisingly don’t get much ginger abuse. But I definitely need a change.”
How do we count the ways we love Lauren Ambrose? Through her sarcasm in Can’t Hardly Wait? Her tumultuous life in Six Feet Under? Her surfer girl bubbliness in Pyscho Beach Party? Her hunger for success in Torchwood? Or maybe it’s simply because of her admiration for the comedy of Lucille Ball and the drama of Shirley MacLaine: “These fierce women—as a kid it was exciting to think I could be one of those redheads."
Lauren Ambrose’s Psycho Beach Party co-star isn’t a natural redhead, but she’s a ginger in spirit. As Amy Adams once said: “When I dyed my hair true red for the first time, I felt as if it was what nature intended. … The red hair suited my personality. I was a terrible blond.” We might not agree that she was a terrible blonde, but the 3-time Oscar nominee was certainly destined for ginger fame.
Seth Green is the redhead who evolved from being the “cha-ching!” kid on TV and Alyson Hannigan’s date in My Stepmother Was an Alien to her monosyllabic boyfriend and werewolf in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before becoming Scott Evil and voicing Chris Griffin in Family Guy. And like the redheaded actors who came before him (Redford, Howard), his current fame comes from creating entertainment, most notably his brainchild, Robot Chicken.
The Canadian actress shot to mainstream fame when she became the vindictive vampire Victoria in The Twilight Saga. After two films, however, the actress mis-scheduled her upcoming films and was publically dumped from Eclipse and replaced by fellow redhead Bryce Dallas Howard. Paul Giamatti, meanwhile, got to enjoy her wild red locks in the film that lost her the vampire gig, Barney’s Version.
Hollywood was introduced to the Australian actress when she appeared in Dead Calm, but it was her time opposite soon-to-be-husband Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder that made her a star. At 5’11” with wild, curly red hair, she was a distinctive rising ginger star in Hollywood, though the red was not her natural color. Much like Emma Stone, she’s a blonde who made her impact on Hollywood after the seemingly natural dye job.
If you’re a fan of David Wenham’s, you know him by name. If you’re not, you probably still know him by sight. The Aussie redhead and his orange stubble have been in a number of leading Hollywood movies. He played the brief part of Audrey in Moulin Rouge, the much more notable Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, Dilios in 300, the slimy Eden Fletcher in The Proposition, and Harry “Pete” Pierpont in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies.
Bryce Dallas Howard
Ron Howard’s daughter boasts some of the reddest hair Hollywood has seen. If there’s anything more notable than her locks, however, it’s probably her habit of repeatedly taking roles previously portrayed by other actresses. She took over for Claire Danes in the Terminator franchise, for Nicole Kidman in Lars von Trier’s Dogville sequel, Manderlay, and most recently for Lefevre in The Twilight Saga.
Believe it or not – the buxom Mad Men beauty is not a natural redhead. Though her red locks seem completely natural, they are the result of the dye bottle, and a youthful obsession with one of literature’s iconic gingers, Anne of Green Gables. She made a name for herself on the retro show, but has since made progress on the big screen with roles in films like Drive, Life As We Know It and I Don’t Know How She Does It.
Irish actor Brendan Gleeson is a noted character actor who elevates many films including Braveheart, A.I., 28 Days Later, Troy, The Village, and of course, his wild-eyed turn as Alastor “MadEye” Moody in Harry Potter. He once recalled: “I'm always described as a burly redhead. I remember once saying to a friend, ‘I wonder if that girl actually knows who I am because of the red hair.’ And he said brutally, ‘All the girls I know don't like red hair.’”
Emma Stone's mother is a redhead, and as the actress says, “I’m blonde at the roots but red at the heart.” We can thank Judd Apatow for discovering her inner red mane. When she tested for Superbad as a brunette, the famed producer/director told her “Make it red.” Stone obeyed, and now boasts hit films like Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and The Help. The actress does, however, return to blonde for The Amazing Spider-Man.
Our first listee Robert Redford may have graced Hollywood for over 50 years, but actress/writer/director MacLaine has been a ginger in the biz for almost 60 years, since Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry in 1955. Her locks have thrived in black and white and color, from The Apartment to her most recent foray, Bernie. We do, however, choose to pretend some of her other recent work, like Bewitched, doesn’t exist.