Momentum Pictures has released a one-sheet teaser for Dorian Gray , their dark version of Oscar Wilde’s timeless tale set to be released in...

Pretty as a Picture: The Faces of Dorian Gray

Momentum Pictures has released a one-sheet teaser for Dorian Gray, their dark version of Oscar Wilde’s timeless tale set to be released in the US in April of 2009. Ben Barnes, who you might recognize as Prince Caspian from the Narnia films, is cast in the lead role of the eternally beautiful Dorian who remains unscathed as his portrait bears to brunt of his infernal sins. With his good looks it’s no wonder Barnes scored the part, and it got me thinking about all the other pretty boys who have taken on the role of Dorian Gray over the years.

Hurd Hatfield appeared in the 1945 MGM production of The Picture of Dorian Gray, as the young man with a vain wish to remain always young and beautiful.The role of Dorian Gray was the high point of Hatfield’s career and almost became the end of it. He had only been in one other film, Dragon Seed (1944) where he portrayed a Chinese peasant, but soon after finding success with Picture his film career took a downturn.

He would comment later that people found it hard to separate the actor from the scandalous character he had played on screen and the "decadence, the hints of bisexuality and so on, made me a leper! People wouldn't even have lunch with me." Hatfield appeared opposite of a twenty-something Angela Lansbury who plays Dorian’s beloved songbird Sybil Vane.

Shane Briant is a much more decadent and ruthless Dorian in the 1973 made-for-television movie The Picture of Dorian Gray. Briant was an up and coming British actor and had appeared in a slew of Hammer horror features including Demons of the Mind (1972), Captain Kronos (1974) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). In addition to his acting credentials he is also an esteemed novelist and has published six books in the US, the most recent being Worst Nightmares (2009). An interview with Briant concerning his latest book can be found at the blog Hammer and Beyond.

Helmut Berger stars in the most homoerotic version of Wilde’s tale, titled simply Dorian Gray (1970). The Austrian born actor was the son of hotelier but moved to London and worked as waiter to put himself through acting school. Openly bisexual, he is best known for his appearances in the films of Luchino Visconti who he was involved with in a relationship for twelve years.

Berger’s portrayal of Gray in this film is both haunting and tragic and would define the kind of character he would continue to play in TV and film as a "demonic, insane and sexually perverted man."

Stuart Townsend is less than fabulous in his rendition of Dorian Gray in 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Townsend broke into horror as Lestat de Lioncourt opposite singer Aaliyah in the film Queen of the Damned, based on the novel by Anne Rice. Despite the popularity of the book the film was panned and even Townsend’s sex appeal couldn’t raise this vampire movie from its coffin.

After his foppish performance in LOEG, Townsend’s career has been on the down slope. He appeared as an uncredited Monican in Aeon Flux (2005) and has worked as an announcer on the Cartoon Network show Robot Chicken (2005-2009).

In a critique of the film, LOEG provides a lame twist on the Oscar Wilde tale as Dorian need only look at his portrait for it to destroy him.


  1. Some of those 70's lads are shockers! I'd forgotten about Dorian appearing n LOEG, Townsend sucked in QOTD. The whole film sucked actually, which was sad as I had cherished adolescent memories of the book. I must re-read Dorian Gray before the film comes out, lets hope they do it justice and keep it nice and dark!

  2. Ditto Ms Harker.
    I always loved Dorian Gray b/c he was fabulous yet evil. Here's to the latest film with hopes that their version is true to Wilde's fairy tale.