HBO's sophomore series Looking may be about a group of gay men in San Francisco, but any fan of the series knows it's really all about the facial hair.
And no one's comes close to the 'stache on Dom, the fortysomething aspiring restauranteur, played by Australian actor Murray Bartlett. It's hard to imagine the character without his perfectly '70s porn star facial hair, but when Bartlett stopped by BuzzFeed's New York offices earlier this week, he said the mustache was very much a coincidental part of his character.
"I was in Egypt for a chunk of time and I really stood out there as a foreigner so I was trying to fit in with the locals and grew a mustache. And then, the audition came up for Looking while I was there, so I put my first audition on tape," Bartlett told BuzzFeed News. "I thought it fit with the character and the fact that facial hair has sort of come back into fashion in the last couple years, particularly in San Francisco. But it's also a bit of a throwback to the kind of classic image of the gay man in San Francisco in the '70s particularly."
Those behind Looking also felt similarly and the mustache started to dictate Dom's look at large. "I talked about it with the costume designer, who then started putting me in plaid shirts and playing with that idea of using that image, but in the present," Bartlett added, noting he's obsessed with Dom's other signature accessory: a shearling-lined corduroy jacket.
When a season of Looking wraps, though, Barlett usually shaves off the mustache (as you can see in these fresh-faced photos). "It does feel like a very Dom thing. It's certainly become that for me," he said. "It's like this piece of the costume that you take off and you feel different and a little bit liberated."
Still, he admitted with a laugh., "I get kind of attached to it. I'm sort of reluctant to shave it off when I come to shave it off."
It's understandable then why Bartlett isn't surprised by the audience's love of Dom's mustache. "There's blogs and Tumblr accounts devoted to mustaches and beards and all that kind of stuff," he said. "It's sort of out there at the moment."
Certainly, there have been many rankings of television mustaches before, but whose choices could be more definitive than the current No. 1? So, without further ado, here are Bartlett's picks for the best mustaches in TV history.
10. Bob Belcher, Bob's Burgers
"It sort of looks like a french fry, which goes with the show."
9. Dr. Mark Sloan, Diagnosis Murder
"How can you not love Dick Van Dyke?"
8. Walter White, Breaking Bad
"He's just so badass."
7. Geraldo Rivera, Geraldo at Large
"I mean, that's an amazing mustache, politics aside."
6. Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
"He's sort of like the real Ned Flanders."
5. Ned Flanders, The Simpsons
"But nothing beats the original."
4. Hulk Hogan, Hogan Knows Best
"It'd probably be unwise to not place him on the list."
3. Yosemite Sam, Looney Tunes
"It's epic. It nearly touches the floor."
2. Isaac Washington, The Love Boat
"The most extreme handlebar."
1. Thomas Magnum, Magnum, P.I.
"How could you not? It has to be No. 1."