The many hairstyles of Mark Strong
Although many people will doubtlessly recognize him as “that bald villan from all those movies” or “British Stanley Tucci”, even more people would have a hard time placing Mark Strong without his signature bald head.
Alongside fellow Hollywood hotshots Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, Strong is the sort of man who could convince other men that we might just look okay when we inevitably go bald. Although it does help to have Strong's charm to be able to actually pull it off.
As the only man to have both won an Olivier Award for Best Actor and been nominated not-once-but-twice in the MTV Movie Award’s ‘Best Fight’ category. It’s hard to imagine Strong as a man who has ever lacked in self-confidence. In spite of the overwhelming success he has had, there was a time in Strong’s career where he felt he was destined for nothing but daytime TV obscurity.
Speaking to The Telegraph in 2009, Strong stated that he first began to lose his hair at some point during his mid-twenties – a harrowing experience for any young man and one that left him feeling depressed, self-conscious, and seemingly unemployed for a substantial period of time.
This, in itself, is a little hard to wrap our heads around as it’s genuinely difficult for us to picture Mark Strong as a man with any hair at all; let alone as a man whose burgeoning career could possibly be halted by a lack of it. In fact, we were so baffled by this that we decided to look into just when exactly Mark Strong did lose his hair. And, more importantly, whether any of us actually realised it.
As a child of the Sixties, Mark’s “mid-twenties” would have fallen in the fashion-repellant 80s and 90s. Revelling in investigatory journalism, we put our hard-working detectives (read: interns) to work (read: Google) in order to pinpoint the exact moment at which Strong became the beautiful, bald man we know today.
As you can see from the following still from a 1990 episode of BBC’s The Bill, Strong had a rather impressive head of hair for his role of PC Gibb.
Yes, 1990 was obviously a strong hair year for Strong. The hair-loss blues were yet to hit him and he was still riding the high of nabbing petty criminals alongside the rest of the Canley Borough Operational Command Unit.
The following year 1991 some evidence of Strong’s unfortunate follicle decline begins to appear, playing the role of unnamed Nazi in Larry Elikann’s One Against the Wind. Strong’s barnet remains firmly beneath the safety of a hat the entirety of his on-screen performance.
Whether this was due to Strong’s own self-consciousness regarding his receding hairline or whether it was simply fictional Nazi protocol at the time remains uncertain. What is certain, however, is that by 1994 Mark Strong had indeed become a bald man. An intimidating bald man, but a bald man nonetheless. Playing a character called Kenny in Captives – a Tim Roth-led vehicle about a prison dentist who falls in love with one of the inmates (no, we haven’t seen it either) – Strong clearly has very little hair left.
His stint on Prime Suspects in the previous also clearly shows Strong with a fairly bare noggin. Which makes all it the more surprising that come 1996 Strong would be playing the rather hairy Tosker Cox alongside Daniel Craig in Our Friends in The North, rocking multiple dodgy haircuts throughout the show’s duration.
Obviously the only logical conclusion to draw from this is that Strong was wearing a wig throughout his performance; well, that, or, he can magically increase and decrease the length of his hair at whim. We like to believe in the latter because it’s a lot more fun. Reality is unfortunately never quite as whimsical.
So considering the disappointingly un-magical fact that Strong has been in a syrup for the majority of his roles that have required a generous head of hair, we’ve thought it apt to pay an homage to some of the best (and worst) haircuts that Strong has had throughout the years.
1996 was obviously the year of the wig for Strong as he donned yet another one of Donald Trump’s favourite appendages for his performance as Mr Knightley in a TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Come 1997 though? No wig in sight. Playing the best-friend of Colin Firth’s Arsenal-mad protagonist, Strong was brave enough to bare his nude head in this film, perhaps suggesting a change of heart on behalf of both Strong himself and the casting agents originally hesitant to cast a balding man.
Sift through the sands of time all the way to 2005 and you can find Mark Strong with quite possibly the worst head of hair we have ever seen in Guy Ritchie’s ‘Revolver’. Which is very sad to say as this is very possibly what Strong’s hair would look like were he to ever grow it out.
Also in 2005, though? This absolutely cracking ginger hair and moustache combination as Toby Crackit in ‘Oliver Twist’. We’ll call 2005 even in terms of a hair win-loss record then.
2007 was another good year for the Strong locks as ‘Stardust’ blessed us with a wonderfully luscious creation which we refuse to believe smells like anything other than coconuts and honey.
Remember what we said earlier about hardly being able to recognize Mark without a bald head? Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (2008) pretty much proves that point as it’s got Mark Strong looking like…well…this:
Which we could easily forgive if 2008 didn’t also give us Babylon A.D. (which was bad) and horrible peroxide blonde Mark Strong (which was also bad).
In chronicling Strong’s various haircuts we’ve also neglected to mention the sheer variety of facial hair that Strong has had. Facial hair that leads to ask important questions such as: can Mark Strong grow a beard? If so, when does the beard start and where does the wig end? Is it a beard wig? Do they even make beard wigs? We don’t know. But we do know this muttonchops combo from 2009’s Young Victoria is killer.
In terms of fake hair and possibly fake beards the 2011’s The Eagle is a definite contender for the best of both as it provided us with Strong’s most grey and grizzled appearance to date.
2011 was also somewhat of a watershed year for Strong when it came to hair-style diversity as alongside The Eagle we were lucky enough to witness equally hairy performances from the Islington-born actor in the likes of Oscar winner Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and not-Oscar winner Green Lantern. We’ve put these two side-by-side because it’s much funnier that way.
Almost as funny as Strong’s historically bad and historically accurate comb-over that he donned to play the role of MI6 agent Stewart Menzies in The Imitation Game (2014).
Standing in for real-life individuals seems to have been a fairly common reason for Strong's use of a wig on film, with 2016’s The Siege of Jadotville proving no different as Strong once more adorned himself in a fairly terrible toupee in order to impersonate Conor Cruise O’Brien.
It doesn't matter whether he’s bald or mop-topped, Strong seldom delivers a disappointing performance. As a charismatic and confident bald man who Hollywood simply can't seem to get enough of, Mark Strong should give every man out there a little bit of hope that going bald really isn't the worst thing in the world. But not too much hope. Because it's very important to remember that you are not - and never will be - Mark Strong.