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The Best of Brunettes: 14 Amazing Brunette Actresses

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | Case Study In Hotness | December 4, 2012 | Comments ()


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Dealing with funerals and interments and all sorts of terrible things this past week has wiped me out, and so I thought we'd do something a little more fun. Beautiful and talented women! Movies they starred in! Yes, I think this is what is traditionally known as "phoning it in," but come on. There's a picture of Cobie Smulders wearing a very cunning hat somewhere in this post. With the promise of such pleasures ahead, who could complain!

I've dyed my hair since I was in high school, first a mildly aberrant version of red, (nothing too wild or boundary pushing), and then a series of red, blonde and brunette ventures ever since then. In college it became necessary to dye my hair as stress began to whittle away at my naturally brown hair, and I deal with solid grey in the front, now. So I dye it a lot, but nothing fancy. Too poor for fancy. Brunette tends to feel the most like home, but I loved my blond hair. It's been every length from super long to Mia Farrow short, and I loved it all. Hair should be fun, a playground of sorts, because it'll just grow right back so what's the harm?

I've made a non-comprehensive, but somewhat extensive list of the best brunettes in Hollywood and their best films. I tried to stick to those who are best known as brunettes, though most of the women on this list have switched at one point or another for a role. From "quirky" to drop dead bone-chillingly gorgeous, they're all here.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead

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Best Known For: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but you should really see her astounding performance in Smashed.

Lizzy Caplan

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Best Known For: TV's "Party Down," "True Blood"

Emilia Clarke

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Best Known For: "Game of Thrones"

Cobie Smulders

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Best Known For: "How I Met Your Mother" and now, The Avengers.

Lacey Chabert

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Best Known For: Mean Girls, and "Party of Five," but she's in a million things and crazy talented, and I directed a movie she was in and she's aces.

Emily Blunt

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Best Known For: Devil Wears Prada, Looper, The Young Victoria (which, fun fact, is probably the movie I've seen the most next to American Psycho and Notting Hill.)

Lake Bell

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Best Known For: No Strings Attached, "How to Make it in America" awww, remember that show guys?

Melanie Lynskey

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Best Known For: Heavenly Creatures? But that's not fair. Ever After, and plenty of other films. Incredible, lovely, talented.

Zooey Deschanel

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Best Known For: TV's "New Girl" but you should really see All the Real Girls, because it will change your mind about her. She can act. I don't know why she doesn't do it more often.

Jessica Findlay Brown

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Best Known For: Downton Abbey

Rosemarie DeWitt

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Best Known For: Rachel Getting Married, which if you haven't seen, go see right away.

Eva Green

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Best Known For: Casino Royale, The Dreamers

Penelope Cruz

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Best Known For: Everything ever. I love her a lot in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Vanilla Sky.

Rachel Weisz

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Best Known For: The Brothers Bloom, Runaway Jury, that new Bourne movie about the chems.


Do you disagree? Who would you add, Mila Kunis? Ehh.



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  • MrPA

    I like how two of these actresses were in Your Sister's Sister and another was supposed to be in it.

  • Clint

    Where the hell is Anna Kendrick?

  • JAE

    No Michelle Yeoh? A travesty!

  • Haystacks

    I feel like most of these women look exactly the same. It makes me sad. mk

  • bastich

    My brain agrees with your choices, but my groin keeps screaming "Alison Brie".

  • Caplan! Warning, Caplan! Eat some cake, woman! After seeing you on New Girl recently you are vanishing before our very eyes, and I want something to hold on to after I inevitably steal you from Chandler.

  • One day Amanda Mae Meyncke will write something that's not about Amanda Mae Meyncke.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    OH MY GOD I HOPE NOT.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Is Amanda demonstrating insufficient self-abnegation in an article categorized as "a case study in hotness"? As soon as I properly arrange this antimacassar and loosen my stays (just a millimeter), I shall prostrate myself on the fainting couch in a gesture of solidarity, Dave. Look deep inside your hearts, Pajibans, and do likewise.

  • Este_guey

    Hayley Atwell is a glaring, GLARING omission from this list

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    No Mary-Louise Parker?!

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    Also: No Sofia Vergara?!

  • Chris

    No Katie Aselton? She's like a better version of Rosemarie Dewitt. Hilarious in the league but also incredible in a lot of mumblecore films like the Freebie.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Good call! She's really nice too, I interviewed her once and it was really more of a game of who could smile at the other one with more friendliness.

  • Ash

    I keep confusing Eva Green for Sarah Michelle Gellar. It's the eyes, I think.

  • Milly

    Christina Ricci, non?

  • eLTeezy

    Zooey Deschanel is not a good actress at all...

  • Oisín

    Eva Green is actually a natural blonde.

  • AngelenoEwok

    And Christina Hendricks is actually blonde as well, she'll always be a redhead IN MY HEART (and fantasies).

  • SittingPat

    Yes, I was waiting for someone to make this remark. And she has a twin sister who does not darken her hair. They make quite a pair standing together. But surely this piece is about the glory of being a brunette, no matter how it is achieved.

  • Jezzer

    What, no Lena Dunham? I thought she was just the best at everything.

  • atoz15

    LAKE BELL!!!! Great inclusion.

  • Lillimae

    I have never been quite so enchanted by someone's shoulders as I am by Lake Bell's.

  • Jezzer

    I would have pointed out that she's in "Childrens Hospital," where she's just phenomenally funny.

  • Anna von Beav

    I never even liked her until I saw her in Children's Hospital.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Natalie Portman?

  • BendinIntheWind

    Rachel Weisz is best known for Runaway Jury? I may be the odd man out here, but to me she will always be "a librarian!"

    (and also a million other things since then, but I'd be willing to bet that if I showed 90% of my friends a picture of her, they'd identify her solely from The Mummy)

  • Amanda Meyncke

    It was kind of a joke. Because obviously no one knows her in Runaway Jury. But jokes are usually funny so bad on me, heh.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Ah, fair enough. There is a special place in my heart reserved for The Mummy on behalf of my junior high self, and I was honestly concerned other people didn't have the same experience.

  • Tinkerville

    "What is a place like me doing.. in a girl like this?"
    .......
    You're not alone.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I shall forever cherish the late 90s as the era of Hot Brendan Fraser.

  • Blake

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead... YES!!!

    But any list talking about "amazing brunettes" is a fail if Anne Hathaway is not included.

    Also no Monica Bellucci, Rebecca Hall or Dakota Blue Richards?

  • DeistBrawler

    Who in the hell is Dakota Blue Richards?

  • Blake

    Franky from Skins Series 5 & 6... And you're welcome.

  • AngelenoEwok

    PFFT, like you aren't googling the hell out of her right now.

  • John W

    First of all, thanks. Nothing like a list of beautiful brunettes to brighten a day.

    Second I WOULD add Mila Kunis, as well as Lena Headey, Emily Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Salma Hayek, Odette Yustman, Minka Kelly, Camilla Belle, Natalie Portman, Keira, Knightley, Bridget Moynahan, Lindsay Fonseca, Evangeline Lilly, Aubrey Plaza, Janina Gavankar, Winona Ryder, Alexis Bledel, Amy Acker, Alison Brie, Abigail Spencer, Jessica Pare, Alyssa Milano, Maggie Q, Rebecca Hall and Michelle Borth just to name a few.

  • DeistBrawler

    So...every female celebrity with brunette hair?

  • modernlove

    Anna Kendrick all day long, and Naya Rivera. I can't stand Glee, but she is so gorgeous.

  • 724wd

    shouldn't this "Best Known For: Mean Girls, and “Party of Five,” but she’s in a million things and crazy talented, and I directed a movie she was in and she’s aces." be "Best Known For: Mean Girls, and “Party of Five,” but she’s in a million things and crazy talented, and I directed a movie she was in and she’s FETCH."

  • Alan

    Where is parker posey?

  • e jerry powell

    Okay, I cannot allow Rachel Weisz to stand unchallenged because...

    well...

    because she's in Daniel Craig's pants, that's why!

    Also, as long as Mia Kirshner's not on the list, I'm good (though I do consider Zooey Deschanel to be a near-miss in that respect).

  • Daniel Valentin

    I find your lack of Monica Belluci disturbing.

  • sean

    I kept scrolling down thinking "Belluci has to be here somewhere" Zooey Deschanel could be removed quite easily from this list.

  • Daniel Valentin

    For the life of me, I can't see what people see in Zooey Deschanel. I guess I have to be a hipster if I want to see her "quirky" appeal, because I just find her an annoying Charlie Uniform November Tango.

  • Bedewcrock

    Great list! With Penelope Cruz, I'd switch out Vanillay Sky with Abre los ojos. Way better since Tom Cruise is nowhere in that movie.

    Love love love Rosemarie Dewitt in United States of Tara (and it doesn't hurt that she canoodles with Ron Livingston for reals).

  • trophywife

    umm, not one single actress of color (any color)???

  • chanohack

    Penelope Cruz?

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I know, I couldn't find any pictures of Vasundhara Das that made her look the way I feel about her. I did forget Rinko Kikuchi as well. Sharp eyes, and I'll do better next time.

  • Lauren

    What about Jennifer Connelly????

  • iamjames

    Right?! It's illegal how hot she is. She was the center of every childhood fantasty I ever had.

  • Ian Fay

    Rocketeer-era Connelly? Certainly.

    Later on in her career, though, in my opinion, she lost a lot of her sex appeal when she became incredibly thin.

  • sean

    Rocketeer/Hot Spot Connelly. OMG. Among the most beautiful things ever put on film.

  • MAG

    Natalie Portman.... she might dye her hair sometimes, but she's an awesome brunette...

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Emilia Clarke shouldn't be on this list. For one thing, her claim to fame is playing TV's blondest blonde that ever blonded. For another thing, she's not even that good at it. And don't give me the stink eye, dudes, she benefits from the story, not the acting.

  • sean

    Yeah, but LOOK AT HER. I agree with every thing you said. But LOOK AT HER. I know I said it twice.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Sean Bean, is that you? How are you alive?

  • Maybe it's another reason to complain about what a douche Seth MacFarlane is.

  • Hiro

    No Marion Cotillard? She's arguably better than every brunette listed here.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I don't like that she can't seem to overcome her accent. She is beautiful, but I never seem to remember her or see much versatility.

  • ceebee_eebee

    That Carla Gugino isn't on this list is an absolutely travesty.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I really can't stand her much and haven't liked the last like five movies I saw her in. No treats for Gugino!

  • BierceAmbrose

    Try Judas Kiss. Judas Kiss, Judas Kiss, Judas Kiss.

    J. U. D. A. S. K. I. S. S.

    I'm gonna keep recommending it until every one of you watches it. You'll thank me, after.

  • Ian Fay

    Try Karen Sisco, the TV show. Classic Elmore Leonard as well.

  • Pat

    Emilia Clarke is so much more stunning as a brunette.

  • damnitjanet

    Eva Green, Rachel Weisz, and Kate Winslet are my top 3 girl crushes. I would get nekkid with any of them in a hot second.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Get in line ;)

  • Now, now. Let's not short-sell what Melanie Lynskey is best known for nowadays. She played Charlie Sheen's stalker on Two and a Half Men who is widely believed to be responsible for shoving his smug character in front of a train in Paris.

  • A. Smith

    While I've seen her as a that lady for years (also interesting is a cameo in Frighteners) I think the movie I learned her name was The Informant. That poofy hairstyle takes me back to when I first moved to that area and when the story took place. Lady gives a nice performance in all the insanity that proceeds and even in other the aforementioned Two and a Half Men and Sweet Home Alabama. I think the only thing I wanted to see more of and didn't was if the her character ever got her baby back from her mob husband in Drive.

  • Jezzer

    She was also in that Stephen King original tv movie, "Rose Red."

    Sigh. That movie showed such promise in the set-up and went downhill so fast. :(

  • Robert

    Was she really? I love Rose Red. It's terrible in the best way possible. Psychic children, psychic old people, crazy middle aged people, evil house, warping floor boards, and a rich people greenhouse.

  • Jezzer

    She was the older sister of the little psychic girl.

  • I thought she was best known for being in a bar... with a baby! (and thereafter being far more gracious than most people would in accepting a mediocre apology)

    She's one of the rare "you know, THAT guy" actresses. She's in a ton of stuff, and I always enjoy her performances, but I can never remember her name. So thanks for providing it.

  • Bedewcrock

    i love you for that Sweet Home reference alone.

    Her debut performance with Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures was so creepy/awesome.

  • WD

    These posts to generate clicks/ad revenue and get rotation for that Zergnet link rotation spamming thing have always been pretty lazy, but this one might take the cake.

    Step 1. Google Image search any random topic involving attractive people
    Step 2. Write one sentence fragment for each picture.
    Step 3. ????
    Step 4. Profit! (just kidding, you actually just annoy your readers)

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Yeah, my grandmother, who was pretty much my best friend for much of my life died last week, the burial was this morning about an hour ago, the funeral was on Saturday, the memorial gathering was on Sunday. My mental capacity to write was at an all-time low yesterday.

    But, you're right. I'm a lazy fragment-sentencer who doesn't deserve a job or friends or family.

  • WD

    Hahaha, you think doing this qualifies as a job. Priceless.

    In other news, if you have these severe traumatic events maybe take some time to clear your head. There is a place for excuses, but your work isn't one of them.

    Most importantly, though, is that this isn't even a critique on you, but also just the content that this site has been mass producing as of late. I've been coming here for a decade or damn near it. It started off as witty, intelligent film review. Then it added tv. Then celeb news. Then books. Then more and more and more crap (and I do mean crap, just utter rubbish) and now it has finally devolved into 5 posts a day of 'lists' like this, an article consisting of two paragraphs of trade news (copied and pasted from elsewhere, natch), and a daily link roundup. Fridays we still get decent movie reviews, hurray! It's sad that the daily link roundup is why I still come here.

  • Robert

    Because saying "job or friends or family" means she was referring to Pajiba as her only source of income. You're trolling a grieving woman and acting like your shit don't stink at the same time. It's quite remarkable.

    I've also been coming to this site for a long ass time. The site adapts to growing trends on the Internet very well. Guess what's been big for 4 years now? Lists. Lists bring out discussion with readership and can spawn new articles.

    But of course, you're the expert on all things Pajiba. No one who writes here works anywhere else or has a life outside of displeasing you. Please don't feel obligated to keep coming back if it's so upsetting that you have to take your aggression out on a grieving contributor.

  • WD

    If you've been coming here for so long, then you should understand who I am and where I'm coming from when I comment. This was a website that used the tag 'Scatching reviews for bitchy people.' I'm a bitchy person. (Side note: Search for that old tag line in Google and the first result is an article on here from Dustin that ends with 'Welcome to Pajiba. You’re an asshole among assholes.' I'll also readily admit to being an asshole.) What I'm saying is, my shit stinks. I'm not hiding from it. I don't know where you got the idea that I am.

    I was drawn to this website because it was so critical of the low brow crap that inundates all of our media streams. This is a website that openly mocks Michael Bay films for being little more than a collection of large explosions, Two and a Half Men or Big Bang Theory for being tailored for the feeble minded, etc. Yet this website has now become a producer of that same brain dead hackneyed bullshit. I find it to be more than a touch hypocritical. But all is fair in the pursuit of the almighty Adsense dollar, right?

    Regarding Ms. Meyncke, who I've never met, know nothing about, and have never intended to personally insult - I'd like to reiterate that no one is putting a gun to her head to post things like this. If she is grieving I'd like to think someone else on the Pajiba team can muster up some content in her place. Forgive me for being critical on a piece of lazy content. I thought that's what this website was about.

  • Anna von Beav

    I've also been coming here a long time, and I have no fucking idea who you are. Nor do I care to. Because you're kind of just a giant douchebag. No one is putting a gun to your head to read them, either.

    Don't let the door hit you.

  • Jezzer

    There's kind of a difference between being scathingly bitchy and an absolute twat. Whether you intended to "personally insult" her or not, your very first response to someone in grief was to laugh and sneer and condescend. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

  • kmob

    I actually agree with you, but given the disclaimer of, you know, this real person's real grief, I think you would have been better served posting this comment to any other one of those five daily list posts you mentioned (because they are real, and they often fail to include even the blurb of context that this list offers). Valid points tend to get lost in the face of needless insensitivity.

  • Jezzer

    I really hope you get enthusiastically assholish responses like this the next time you suffer through the death of someone close to you, WD. Assuming, of course, that you're not this much of a knob end in real life and actually HAVE anyone close to you.

  • Way to pick on someone mid-grief. You are a complete wanker.

  • Oh, for crying out loud. She admitted straight-up that this was a fluff piece full of pretty people, because sometimes shit is just a bit too real, and you need a mental break. Which I did today, desperately. If you don't like fluff pieces, the title alone should have clued you in, and you could have just passed it by instead of bitching about things other people enjoy.

  • 1. Given the high quality of Amanda's posts, I can't imagine she'd do something just for the "clicks".
    2. Are you really gonna complain about photos of hot ladies?
    3. If you're so worked up over the idea of content created solely for clicks, why the fuck would you then click on it and contribute to that which you rail against?
    4. I don't really have a fourth thing. I just like lists.

  • Ian Fay

    The funny thing is, Emilia Clarke never did it for me in the first season of Game of Thrones, as I'm not really into blondes, generally.

    Then I saw a picture of her with her normal hair color, with those eyes...

    (something similar to this:)

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tum...

    And suddenly I saw what the fuss was about.

    OTOH, Eva Green I've been on board with from Day One.

  • Bedewcrock

    Saw Anna Karenina and thought Kitty was played by Emilia Clarke. Check out her open mouthed doppelganger Alicia Vikander.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I FORGOT HER TOO. I love her, so much. She's amazing as the queen in "A Royal Affair."

  • Bedewcrock

    is that good? I love mads mikkelsen but wasn't sure about the strength of that movie.

    also, alicia is supposedly dating alexander skarsgard. sigh.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    It's excellent.

  • seth

    I would blow up the moon if it meant Lake Bell would pay attention to me.

  • Her tweets are fun, just saying.

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