Least inspired casting:


 Bald actors voicing bald cartoon characters

Animation provides the power of unlimited vision. Whatever can be drawn, stenciled, painted, or now created with computer, can appear on-screen. Actors can lend their voices to any character, be it man, beast, or politician. The latest film to realize this potential is "The Polar Express," where skinema star Tom Hanks plays no less than four roles, including a young boy and the pot-bellied present provider Santa Claus himself. So imagine our dismay when a less than imaginative trend became apparent: bald actors voicing bald cartoon characters.

 Sponge Bob's ruler, King Neptune, is in a panic.

 Without his stolen crown, his hair loss is revealed.

 Who to convey this emotional moment? Shiny scalped actor Jeffrey Tambor is hired.

 Why Tambor? Perhaps he can best feel Neptune's pain.

In "Sponge Bob Square Pants: The Movie," King Neptune is obsessed with his severe male pattern hair loss. Rather than hiring a bushy-haired film hunk for the part, the producers turned to balding actor Jeffrey Tambor to employ his vocal chords.

When casting the voice of smooth shaven superhero Frozone in "The Incredibles," couldn't they have called hairy leading man Wesley Snipes? Surely Snipes would welcome a project that dosn't involve killing B-movie vampires, a la his "Blade" franchise. But noooooo, bald brother Samuel L. Jackson was invited to the Pixar party. It is not clear whether the sheared sheep in the Pixar short "Boundin'" was voiced by a hairy or hairless lamb. We'll keep you posted as events unfold.


 In a related example, Ben Kingsley played the villain known as the Hood in the live action kiddie pic "The Thunderbirds." Here a bald actor channels the essence of a smooth shaven marionette. Was Patrick Stewart busy, by thunder?

There was certainly a time, in the dark ages of the 1980's, that being a balding man made one eligible for an Eskimo ice berg retirement party. Yet in the 21st century, lacking a full lawn is not a reason to be put out to pasture. As the baby boomer generation has aged, a clean shaven scalp is increasingly in vogue, even in young men.




 Talking head Matt Lauer has gone from care-free...

...to hair-free.

Tastefully tressed Katie Couric remains his friend.
TV personality Matt Lauer is an example of a handsome fella who has gone from a mega mane to whithering whiskers without losing his high profile position. He has even avoided the "comb-over" style, confirming his status as a major metrosexual. One wonders if fellow talking head Katie Couric could keep her day job if she revealed the same degree of hair loss.

Other than a fading social stigma (thanks Bruce Willis!), being bald represents little to no health risk. In fact, without active hair follicles, inflammatory conditions like seborrhea (bad dandruff) settle down significantly. The main concern is that pale pates, if not adequately sun protected, can be an eventual source of solar damage and even skin cancer.

While we are happy that Kingsley, Jackson, and Tambor continue to find work despite their follicular disability, what of all the other actors itching to walk in a chrome dome's shoes? Colin Farrell so enjoyed shaving for his role as Bullseye in "Daredevil," that he tried going blond in "Alexander," with less success. And does this niche prevent the bald actors from trying hair loss treatments like Rogaine (minoxidil), or Propecia (finasteride)? Are they imprisoned, trapped in an odd indentured servitude to their lack of locks? We hope in 2005, some of these thespians are thrown a cartoon role with a shaggy, bushy afro. Just to keep us guessing.

Runner up, Least inspired casting:

In the Sponge Bob movie, overly sun exposed Baywatch boss David Hasselhoff plays...himself. What--- Tom Hanks and his digital computer team were busy?



© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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