Distinctive facial hair is always a bold choice because the length, shape, and kemptness of a gentleman's scruff says a lot about his personality. That's why actors can get into trouble when they find themselves simultaneously blessed with a long-running show and cursed with their character's (sometimes equally long-running) facial hair. This Broadway and off-Broadway season has been particularly rife with actors forced to live their day-to-day lives behind the mask of another man's mustache or mutton chops, so we've decided to take a moment to honor the commitment of these brave thespians (and rank their facial hair, obviously).
7) Danny Burstein's shockingly lush mustache would be further up the unfortunate-facial-hair list if it weren't for the pair of twinkling eyes just above it. But Burstein can clearly pull off just about any look, including that of Cabaret's Herr Schultz, an elderly seller of fruit with an upper lip as fuzzy as his peaches.
6) Steven Pasquale's perma-five-o'clock-shadow is actually the opposite of unattractive (it basically makes him seem like he should always be looking tenderly at you over the top of a late-morning mug of coffee — but I digress). However, the proto-beard still makes the list, because while Steve's The Bridges of Madison County character Robert is perpetually artfully disheveled, presumably Steve himself would sometimes like to run his hand over a smoothly shaved version of his dreamy jawline.
5) Nick Offerman is the poster child for actorly dedication to unfortunate facial hair off-Broadway. His neglected-looking mountain-man beard is perfect for the reclusive trailer-dweller he plays in Annapurna, but it's not the sort of thing a less-daring individual would want to sport in the company of actual people. The beard's two saving graces are Offerman's inherent grizzly charm (the man runs an actual woodshop) and the fact that his real-life wife Megan Mullally is his costar – so presumably she signed off on it.
4) Terence Archie honestly looks pretty great with the goatee and subdued handlebar combo his Rocky character, Apollo Creed, prefers. But his sexy-villain look is villainous with a capital V. Gone are Archie's days of being able to pensively tent his fingers without sending friends and family into a terrified tizzy. Keep in mind that his wife, Kedist Beckford-Archie, has been dealing with this since Archie took on the role in Germany in 2012. That's right, he had a villain stache and spoke German. Horrified shivers.
3) Les Misérables' Cliff Saunders rocks a pair of bushy sideburns as the disgustingly scheming innkeeper Thénardier. In his real life, Saunders is quite pleasant and probably rather moral, but unfortunately, because of his commitment to the smarmy role, you wouldn't know it to look at him. At least Saunders is able to counteract the weighty mutton chops with a charmingly devilish smile and some Bushwick-worthy hats.
2) Will Swenson beats out Saunders for worst Les Mis facial hair and almost makes it to the top of the all-season list with a set of the world's most precisely trimmed sideburns. While subdued in terms of bulk, these beard bits have lines and angles so sharp that he almost definitely wouldn't make it past TSA. On his character Javert, they look businesslike and sensible. But on Will, suave husband of five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, they put his commitment to the role front and center.
1) Chris O'Dowd tops our illustrious list, with noticeably tragic facial hair that transitions nicely into an almost equally upsetting hair situation on the rest of his head. For the sake of his art, the adorable Irish actor is not only taking NYC by storm with a rounded bushy beard that appears to come to two weird points, but he has also committed to months of waiting for his charmingly tousled curls to grow back even after he leaves his Of Mice and Men role. That's the kind of dedication that must even glean respect from his method-actor costar James Franco (who also deserves a facial-hair honorable mention).