There’s little debate over who shot first among true Star Wars fans. That said, with the release of Battlefront 2 (the newest iteration of the venerable Star Wars video game series) we have learned that Solo may have also shaved first, before letting his beard flourish post-Return of the Jedi in that in-between time before we pick up with him in A Force Awakens (read below for more details). Star Wars has long been a bastion of facial hair so it makes sense that Han may have adopted the fully bearded look eventually. It could be argued that with the original Star Wars being a product of the 1970’s it was only natural for there to be beards, chops, and moustaches in a galaxy far, far away. With that blueprint laid, it’s been fascinating to see the style continue throughout the prequels, sequels and associated works. With The Last Jedi releasing this week we wanted to take a moment to review some of the great Star Wars beards and moustaches that have graced our screens over the decades.
(NO spoilers for The Last Jedi here, mild spoilers for the other films. But let"s be honest, there"s no way you"re reading this if you haven"t seen them all already.)
The Prequel Trilogy
Within minutes of The Phantom Menace starting, Qui Gon Jinn appears on screen sporting a well-kept yet rugged full beard. We’re eventually greeted by other members of the Jedi Council who favor the beard: Ki Adi Mundi with his snowy goatee and moustache combo and the profoundly well-follicled Oppo Rancisis, who may have the longest beard evidenced in Star Wars history. We even find some of the upper class of Naboo sporting nice beards, Governor Sio Bibble’s puckish ducktail among them.Attack of the Clones gave us a stellar example of the classic dad ‘stache with an alien twist in Dexter Jettster the diner cook. (We’re not quite sure what’s going on with his chin whiskers, this may be the galaxy’s first neckbeard.) This film also grants us further proof of the Jedi’s love for beards as Count Dooku is introduced. Actor Christopher Lee sports an impeccably manicured full beard, making his fall to the Dark Side even more tragic for admirers of facial hair.
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Most of those previously mentioned show up for the prequel finale, Revenge of the Sith. We see Bail Organa’s regal goatee on-screen a bit more and are introduced to the lightly bearded Owen Lars (neither pictured), Luke Skywalker’s future adoptive father. But the most important beard we encounter here throughout the prequels is that of Obi Wan Kenobi. For all the legitimate gripes fans have regarding the prequels, few take issue with Ewan McGregor’s performance as Obi Wan. Channeling Sir Alec Guinness’s performance from A New Hope, he remains one of the truly redeeming elements of the prequel series. We first encounter him clean-shaven as Qui Gon’s padawan, by the second and third film he is sporting a well-groomed full beard, perhaps an homage to his fallen Master.
The Original Trilogy
Back to where it all actually began, the original trilogy is chock full of fantastic 70’s facial hair. From the start we are treated to some classic sideburns on a few of the Rebels fighting aboard the Tantive IV. When Luke runs off to join the Rebellion we meet his buddy Biggs Darklighter, an X-Wing Pilot with a pretty sweet moustache. And who could forget Jek Porkins! Before tragically being shot down over the Death Star, the chubby X-Wing pilot impressed us with his close-cropped full beard. The Rebels showed evidence of beards in leadership, as well. General Dodonna in A New Hope and General Crix Madine in Return of the Jedi both have respectable beards (though in an effort to be transparent, Crix Madine’s beard is…fake. Kenner had already begun producing the action figure for the character, they gave him a beard, so production gave actor Dermot Crowley a beard, too.) The Imperials favored a much more clean-cut look. One of the things we love about the original trilogy is how it transposed the 60’s and 70’s counterculture and anti-establishment vibe into the Rebel/Imperial dichotomy. You see it in the contrast of their uniforms and in their varying approaches to military organization. You also see it in their haircuts and facial hair, the Empire keeps it high and tight while the Rebellion is more shaggy and rough around the edges. That’s not to say that there weren’t some moments of Imperial facial hair excellence, particularly in regard to Admiral Ozzell’s moustache. It was neat and tidy, right up until he was… forced… into an early retirement.One of my favorite Star Wars facial hair moments comes in a quick appearance from character actor John Ratzenberger who was best known for his role as Cliff Clavin on the televsion show Cheers. He plays a Rebel on Hoth base, his perfect pushbroom moustache in full effect (not pictured, but feel free to Google). And speaking of moustaches, let’s not forget the most stylish man in any Star Wars film to date, Lando Calrissian. His dapper ‘stache drew a perfect line above that brilliant smile and somehow magnified his already incalculable charm.
And of course there is Obi Wan, older and wizened by his time spent beneath the twin suns of Tatooine. While actor Alec Guinness was notoriously disinterested in the space opera he was starring in, he does bring a very zen-like placidity to the role. His striking white beard imparts a sense of intellect and deep wisdom, the perfect grandfather-figure to a young Luke Skywalker. Though he is only present for the first episode of the trilogy, Obi Wan casts a long shadow over the remaining films, a presence felt and heard by Luke and seen in spectral form throughout.
Rogue One (And Some Bonus Scruffy-Looking Nerf Herders)
Rogue One, as a direct prequel to the events of A New Hope, had the task of recreating much of the look and feel of that first and original Star Wars film. It did so with aplomb, bringing an even darker and grittier vibe. It also brought beards back in full force (pun!). As you can see pictured here, several of the Rebel pilots were prominently bearded and moustached, as were many of the main characters. Bodhi Rook, the Imperial defector with a heart of gold, sports a lean beard. The former guardian monk, Baze Malbus, is distinguished by his shaggy hair and full beard. Onderonian Resistance leader Saw Gerrera was fighting back against the Empire before it was cool, and sports a grizzly beard which only adds to the menace of his physical presence. Galen Erso, the tragically misled creator of the Death Star also wore a full beard as he lived out his final days in hiding.
Perhaps of greatest note is the film"s male lead, Cassian Andor. His roguish nature and grey-area morality make him one of the more interesting and complex characters in the Star Wars pantheon. His thin beard accents his ambiguity and adds to his knavish charm.
Dipping into the extended universe, Marvel took over the rights for Star Wars comics when Disney acquired the franchise, and they have given us a nice addition to the Star Wars Facial Hair Club. In the first run of Darth Vader comics we our introduced to Inspector Thanoth, and he looks pretty damned Imperial with his impressive muttonchops and connected moustache. The recent Star Wars Rebels animated series has also upped the facial hair ante, from the beefy beard of former clone commander Captain Rex to Rebel Kanan Jarrus showcasing an impressive sculpted beard in the show’s later seasons. On the Imperial side, we have Admiral Konstantine with his impeccable moustache and Agent Kallus with a devastating pair of broadside chops.And despite some controversy with EA’s aforementioned Star Wars Battlefront 2, the game did give us Han Solo, the OG scruffy-looking nerf herder in all his full-bearded glory. When we catch up with him again in A Force Awakens he’s back to a grizzled bit of five o’clock shadow. As much as we’d love to see the full beard in live action it doesn’t appear likely, though who knows what’s in store for the recently announced Solo: A Star Wars Story?
The Force Awakens
The long-awaited and once-thought-impossible sequel to the original trilogy opened with a film that is as much homage to what came before it as it is its own new animal. While critics were harsh on the plot structure of yet another Death Star-esque MacGuffin to destroy, fans were riveted by the continuation of the story they hold so dear. And the beards are back, beginning with the enigmatic Lor San Tekka. We only meet him briefly before his demise but his presence is felt strongly. We are also introduced to Poe Dameron, the dashing Rebel pilot. While he doesn’t have a full beard or moustache, that ever-present shadow is just enough to let you know there’s a hellacious beard waiting to be grown. Maybe we’ll see Poe rise to the challenge by Episode IX. Snap Wexley on the other hand proudly sports a full beard. As the leader of Blue Squadron he plays a major role in the assault on Starkiller Base.
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That brings us to our final Star Wars beard, and perhaps the greatest of all. Luke Skywalker. We’ve watched our hero ascend from naive hick farm boy to the most powerful force wielder in the galaxy. He’s been tempted by the Dark Side, he’s held his dying father in his arms, he’s suffered some as-yet-not-fully-revealed tragedy in the intervening years between Jedi and Force Awakens, and he’s exiled himself to a rocky island on a distant hidden planet. So it’s not unexpected that when we finally meet him again, he’s looking a little wild and rough. His beard tells a story, the greying patches reflect a life hard-lived while the mere presence evokes thoughts of his master, Obi Wan. For fans, there couldn’t have been a more powerful note to leave on, and we’re all very much looking forward to seeing more of Luke (and his beard!) in The Last Jedi.
We"d be remiss if we didn"t mention the beard that started it all, that of George Lucas himself. His beard game is decades strong and has always been an inspiration. George, if you"re reading, drop us an email, we"d love to set you up with some product! And of course we have to pay respect to the walking beard himself, Chewbacca. Little known fact: Chewie is our #1 customer. He buys a 55 gallon drum of beard oil about every six months, as it takes a lot to keep all that wookie fur looking healthy and shiny. (His favorite scent is Wisdom, our woodsy blend.)
Thanks for joining us on this journey, we’ll see you in the theater this weekend, and may the force be with you!