As a man clinging for dear life to the hair I still possess, I get a tad upset when I witness an actor willingly shaving him or herself bald.
But it's a powerful visual device movies use to signify personal transformation. When we see those healthy locks float to the floor like freshly fallen follicle tears, cut short in the prime of their lives, we know something huge has happened to a character. They've made the ultimate sacrifice: self-imposed baldness.
In the new film "50/50" (Sept. 30), Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes it all off as he battles cancer. In honor of his heroic sacrifice, we've compiled a list of eight of the closest shaves in movie history.
8. Cameron Diaz in 'My Sister's Keeper' (2009)
In this heart-tugging scene, Diaz's character shaves her head to shows unity with her bald daughter who's battling cancer. Of course, the real Cameron Diaz found it unbearable to lose her fabulous 'do, so she made the slightly less-than-ultimate sacrifice of shaving the hair off of a wig she wears in the scene. It sort of looks real ...
7. Robin Tunney in 'Empire Records' (1995)
Remember record stores? No? Well, before iTunes, if you wanted music, you had to drive to a "store" where you could purchase "cassette tapes" that were the size of iPods but held about 12 songs. It was horrible. In this coming-of-age pic set in those dark times, morbid employee Deb (Tunney) fails at a suicide attempt, then goes full-on Sinead O'Connor. Remember Sinead O'Connor? She was before iTunes, too.
6. Emile Hirsch in 'Lords of Dogtown' (2005)
Portraying real-life '70s skateboarder Jay Adams, Hirsch shaves his head and joins a gang to show that he's not selling out to the man like his buddies. That'll show 'em --show 'em all! Although nothing short of a crippling face tattoo could make boyishly handsome Emile Hirsch actually look tough.
5. Natalie Portman in 'V for Vendetta'
When the oppressive British government dares shave off Natalie Portman's hair in this dystopian, nightmare world, you know it's time for a violent, grassroots revolution. Although they sort of did her a favor. Looking sassy, bald and badass, she's now got that anarchist-chic look that all her politically disgruntled friends will simply die for. And guess what: She still looks good.
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '50/50' (2011)
In this comedy about a young man who gets cancer (because nothing's funnier than cancer), Seth Rogen convinces Levitt to shave it off in an attempt to make his illness work for him with the ladies. Levitt, however, finds his shaven hair difficult to ... part with. Perhaps Rogen isn't the first guy to go to for advice on the ladies.
3. Luke Wilson in 'The Royal Tenenbaums' (2001)
In this beautiful and heartbreaking suicide scene, washed up tennis star Richie (Wilson), despondent over the unrequited love of his adopted sister (Paltrow), cuts away the beard and hair he hides behind before slitting his wrists.
2. Demi Moore in 'G.I. Jane' (1997)
After driving men wild in "Striptease" (1996), Moore took it all off in a whole new fashion playing Lt. Jordan O'Neil, who is attempting to be the first woman to make it through the Navy Seals training camp. The men respond to her presence in this film with significantly less enthusiasm. In this scene, Moore endures all the manly negativity through shear will.
1. The Cast of 'Full Metal Jacket' (1987)
Stanley Kubrick succinctly demonstrates the military's systematic stripping away of individuality from these new recruits, bound for Vietnam, with this unique introduction to the film's cast. Both funny and slightly sad, this small, superficial act represents the end of these young men's lives as they've known it.