"Brave" came out this week, Pixar's first feature with a strong female character at its center. And while it's not among the animation powerhouse's best films from a storytelling perspective, it is undeniably beautiful. Among its more appealing visual elements is the wild mane of long, red curls on the head of Scottish princess Merida.
So that got me thinking about other famous movie redheads. There are so many to choose from but I only get to pick five. Sorry, Carrot Top.
- Katharine Hepburn: The classic redhead, even though it may not have been obvious in her early, black-and-white movies. Hepburn's hair -- along with those sharp cheekbones, bright eyes and tall, athletic frame -- gave her an aura of patrician bearing and strength. In color films, the red locks magnified her fiery persona, contributed to the sense that she was not a woman to be trifled with. And even in later films like 1981's "On Golden Pond," when her tresses had faded a bit, she still exuded an air of irreverence and unpredictability.
- Nicole Kidman: We see her as a blonde sometimes: on the red carpet for the Oscars, for example, or in her upcoming movie "The Paperboy," for which she bleached her locks platinum. She switched to a medium-brown shade for the biopic "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus." But for the most part, Kidman's raven hair is a key component of her signature, statuesque look. In early films like "Dead Calm" and "Days of Thunder," the prodigious nature of her red curls signaled the presence of someone fierce and formidable. But she's also smoothed them out and tamed them to a softer strawberry shade for movies including "To Die For."
- Emma Stone: A redhead on the rise. Yes, she's back to her natural blonde hair for her latest role as Gwen Stacy in next month's "The Amazing Spider-Man." But in the movies that put her on the map -- "Superbad," ‘'Zombieland" and especially "Easy A," the high school comedy that made it clear she's destined for superstardom -- her red hair adds to her sly, subversive allure. More mature roles came along last year in two big movies: "The Help" and "Crazy Stupid Love." Her entire vibe suggests that she'd just be a cool chick to hang out with, and a lot of that has to do with the intriguing contrast of her dark red hair and bright green eyes.
- Woody Allen: They can't all be women, right? He's 76 now and the years have understandably grayed him, as evidenced this week as he appears on screen in his latest movie, the ensemble comedy "To Rome With Love." But in his earliest films, like 1971's "Bananas" and 1977's "Annie Hall," the shaggy red hair combined with the eyeglasses, the demeanor and the delivery to create his trademark, neurotic persona. While red hair can seem so exciting on women, Allen's contributed to the sensation that he was an underdog, someone you always want to root for to get out of a predicament or fall in love.
- Jessica Rabbit: OK, this is a bit of a cheat. So maybe she's not a "real" person (although she's inspired countless real fantasies, not to mention naughty Halloween costumes). But I have to admit then when I started pondering the notion of movie redheads, this cartoon character's name is the first one that popped into my head. The femme fatale from Robert Zemeckis' 1988 film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," a groundbreaking mix of live-action and animation, simply oozes sex appeal, especially as voiced by Kathleen Turner. Crucial to her look is her long mane of wavy, red tresses, which cascade down all the right places on her curvy frame.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com /christylemire.