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Hollywood's Worst Teeth Sometimes Make the Best Characters

08/03/2010 02:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I've done several posts about that "Hollywood smile," porcelain veneers, and similar. And from reading them, you could get the assumption that I indeed favor "perfect teeth." And I admit, that's partially true in a professional sense (after all, I am a cosmetic dentist practicing in NYC). But, I don't want to come across as a "smile snob," because I'm not -- there are plenty of people who have less than perfect smiles, which do not detract from their appearance. Hence this post, which explores the other side of the equation.

Included on the "less than perfect teeth" list are many well-known actors, celebrities, and similar. In fact, for many of these people, you'll see that their smile actually adds to their unique look, and in some cases, they may not have been as successful had they sported a "perfect smile." So if your own smile is less than perfect, and you're ok with that, then you know what? That's perfectly fine. Not everyone needs a Hollywood smile to make the A-List -- that goes for everyday folks and Hollywood denizens both.

Ok, to illustrate a few examples of "less than perfect, and that's perfectly ok" smiles, allow me to present the following list of celebrities that have gotten pretty far on less than perfect teeth. Now I do want to reiterate -- this list is not to make fun of said smiles -- it's to illustrate that less than perfect teeth are not necessarily an albatross.


John Malkovich

Not pearly white, not perfectly formed, with a big ol' gap right in the center. John's teeth are not terrible by any stretch, but he does have less than the "red carpet smile" we see so often. But you know, it works for him.

Steve Buscemi

One of my favorite actors, Steve is our winner in the "least likely Hollywood smile" category. Discolored, crooked, protruding snaggletooth... Steve has it all. But think of the characters he's played -- Donnie in The Big Leboski, Carl in Fargo, Tony Blundetto in The Sopranos... seriously memorable characters that instantly come to mind. His characters come to life partly because of his unique look, and that includes his less than perfect teeth. Bravo, Steve.

Jon Heder

Not much tooth makeup was needed to turn Heder into Napoleon Dynamite. But would he have been nearly as memorable with a perfect smile? No way, no how. Jon gets a lot of mileage out of his large choppers -- they are actually the focal point of his face. And like I've mentioned on others, it really works for him. Don't change a thing, Jon -- you look fine.


Gary Busey

I love Gary's characters, and I love the fact that he seems to have a lot of fun being "Gary Busey" -- nobody has as much fun with his image as Gary. Gary has really large teeth that go straight across - they are sooo straight across it almost looks like they are artificially made to be that way (but they aren't -- who would do that?) Gary's teeth definitely lead to his characters jumping off the screen -- when he smiles, you really can't tell if it's warm or sinister... Gary keeps you guessing. A great asset to a great actor.


Mike Tyson

The "Baddest Man on the Planet" had a smile that could make grown men shiver. Exemplified by the "gold grillz," Tyson's smile is a mix of missing teeth, jagged "out of place" teeth, and more. But you know, it also has a warm quality to it. I couldn't imagine "Iron Mike" with a Hollywood smile.

David Letterman

Is there a more famous "gap" than David Letterman's? It's unlikely -- his gap is a definite part of "him" that it's hard to imagine Dave without it. Every caricature of Dave emphasizes his famous gap, and it's not done with a hint of meanness -- it's just Dave. Smile on Dave -- you're the king of Late Night in my book.

Madonna

Let's not make this a "guys only" list, ok? Madonna is entering her third decade as a major pop star, sex symbol, and whatever else she chooses to be. In fact, it's arguable that there hasn't been a more influential female star in the last twenty years. And she's done this with a smile that's part Letterman, part Busey, and all Material Girl. She's hot, she's happening, she's got a less than perfect smile, and she doesn't care. She's Madonna, and that's that.

Ok, there you have it -- seven "less than perfect" smiles that made it big -- really big. I hope this makes anyone with a less than perfect smile feel better about it. Hey, if it really bothers you, there are solutions available. But as you can see, it's not always a detriment.

Until next time, keep smiling.