Taking a Bite out of Cinema

Did you know that when Clark Gable flashed his famous smile, he was wearing dentures? There are more fake teeth in films than you might expect, and they’re not always obvious – but sometimes it’s the ones that are that are the most fun.

When the subject of fake film teeth comes up, everybody thinks first of vampires – from Max Schreck in Nosferatu to Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. These teeth have to make quite an impression. They’re not just the vampire’s weapons, they’re usually the first certain sign we see that we are dealing with something inhuman. Interestingly, the Twilight films tried to get away from this and make their vampires seem more human, but ended up with an actor (Robert Pattinson) who has one of the few natural sets of fangs in the business.

There’s much more to custom film teeth than bloodthirsty undead, though. Sometimes they provide insights into character, like the false teeth used by serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in Manhunter and Red Dragon. Sometimes they even tell us what species we’re dealing with, as in Sand Sharks. In the most recent version of Les Miserables, several of the actors wore plastic moulds over their modern, healthy teeth, to make them look more natural for the period. Anne Hathaway, whose character is forced to sell hers, had her teeth painted over, though the actress said she would have been prepared to pull them out to get the part. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar has certainly given her plenty to chew on.