Oscar Isaac Turns Heads Again ... This Time for His Beard

Sunday October 24, 2021
Originally published on October 21, 2021

Oscar Isaac in "Dune"
Oscar Isaac in "Dune"  (Source:IMDb)

GQ has called Oscar Isaac's beard in the "Dune" remake "one of the most magnificent onscreen beards of all time." Pretty high praise for the 42-year-old actor, who recently made headlines for appearing full-frontal (and with a less imposing beard) in HBO's "Scenes from a Marriage" opposite Jessica Chastain.

Oscar Isaac in "Scenes from a Marriage"
Oscar Isaac in "Scenes from a Marriage"  (Source: HBO)

For his "Dune" look, GQ's Gabriella Paiella was impressed upon seeing the film. "Oscar Isaac's beard really did look great," she wrote. "It's lush but immaculately trimmed, rugged but entirely precise. This is not the result of lazily forgetting to shave for a few days and then figuring you might as well keep going; this is a beard cultivated with intention and purpose. It's a beard that lets you exclaim stuff like "Desert power!" and have people actually take you seriously."

In Denis Villeneuve's adaptation, Isaac plays Duke Leto Atreides I, father to Paul Atredies (Timothée Chalamet) and partner to Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). He is described in the book as being "tall, olive-skinned. His thin face held harsh angles warmed only by deep gray eyes." But no beard. How did it come about?

Oscar Isaac in "Dune"
Oscar Isaac in "Dune"  (Source: IMDb)

Paiella contacted Donald Mowat, the makeup and hair department head and prosthetic designer for the film, who agreed with her. "It's an imposing beard. It's an important beard, if you will."

But it wasn't there initially. In fact, Mowat was surprised when director Villeneuve and Isaac suggested it. He began researching. "I looked at it kind of with European reference, but particularly Greco-Roman," he told GQ. "He also looked at Imperial Russia, particularly Czar Nicholas II, along with one modern-day royal counterpart. 'If you look at Prince Michael of Kent, who's the Queen's cousin, he's the spitting image of Czar Nicholas of Russia,' Mowat said.

Timothée Chalamet in "Dune"
Timothée Chalamet in "Dune"  (Source: IMDb)

The beard also influenced Mowat's look for Chalamet, as Isaac's son. He's pale, he's statuesque, he's beautiful, but he's got his father's hair," he said. He also added fake crow's feet to Isaac's face and grey coloring to his beard to make him look older.

Grooming was also a factor. "Mowat estimated that it took about 14 weeks total to grow out. Maintenance involved shampooing and conditioning, brushing it out, and trimming it regularly — and, of course, the beard oil must flow. It ultimately took less than 35 minutes in the chair to get Isaac ready to shoot every day, and considering that was with all the additional movie makeup, this is ostensibly an achievable everyday grooming routine."