Pop culture and street art have always gone hand in hand, exploring and drawing inspiration from one another. Although it’s true that murals and graffiti often carry messages and express opinions, sometimes they also celebrate the pure aesthetic, or pay homage to famous people, singers, musicians, Hollywood people, actors and actresses. When it comes to actor graffiti homages, most of the times we’re talking about a graffiti piece dedicated to a piece of pop culture, a cult movie, tv show or a character which made those actors famous, or at the very least gave them the status of an icon. And vice versa, surely. Many known graffiti artists have painted famous actors and actresses, some of them even obsessively (hint: Hanksy), and we’re here to list the 10 most awesome of them. I’m sure you will recognize these familiar faces, so scroll down to check out the best actor graffiti homages!
Known for his actor graffiti pieces, French street artist Akse painted an homage to Tyrion Lannister, from the HBO series Game of Thrones. Played by Peter Dinklage, Tyrion is one of the most beloved characters of the show - and the books, favorited by many fans. The piece was painted in Manchester, UK, along with many other detailed celebrity graffiti. Among them, there is the one dedicated to the American drama Breaking Bad, which features a stunning portrait by the main actor, Brian Cranston, as the drug lord Walter White. Can’t wait to see who’s next for Akse!
Another French street artist, MTO (otherwise known as only Mateo), of whom we don’t know much about except that he paints extraordinary hyperrealistic graffiti portraits, dedicated one of his pieces to Sir Anthony Hopkins. The graffiti homage sees the famous actor in perhaps the most recognizable role of his career - Dr. Hannibal Lecter, from the movie The Silence Of The Lambs. Depicted wearing his trademark mask, Sir Anthony Hopkins is gracing a wall in Berlin, among many other actor graffiti spread around the German capital, which was home to MTO for many years.
Speaking of other MTO actor graffiti homages, we can’t really ignore the one of Jack Nicholson, in a role that probably marked his career too, big time. We’re talking about The Shining, one of Stanley Kubrick’s most brilliant motion pictures, filmed in 1980. In it, Jack Nicholson portrayed the now iconic Jack Torrance, and it is one of the film’s most famous scenes that MTO depicted in his graffiti piece. Except that, for this occasion, Jack Nicholson isn’t holding an axe, but a spray can, and we can almost hear him say “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”
Back in 2008, seven years before the death of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Brainwash painted a graffiti tribute to Mr. Spock on the streets of Los Angeles and New York. Mixing pop culture elements, something that Mr Brainwash does best, the piece shows a colorful mixture of Mr. Spock, Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol. After Leonard Nimoy’s death in February 2015, many other graffiti artists and Star Trek fans paid their homage to Nimoy, who was an artist himself - he was a movie director and photographer, and quite a good one too.
When great artists die, they get immortalized in the things they did during their lifetime, but also in the artworks dedicated to their personality and career. Such is the case with Robin Williams, who took his own life in 2014. The tragic event left everyone in shock, and around the world, many tributes to this remarkable actor started popping up on the streets. One of the most amazing ones is the one in Belgrade, Serbia, done by an unknown street artist. A beautiful black-and-white graffiti piece portrays the late actor in an emotional way, saying goodbye to one of the best actors out there.
Shortly after he brilliantly portrayed Joker in one of the latest Batman movies, actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his home at the age of 27, back in 2008. One of the best graffiti homages, dedicated to the late actor and his most famous role, was done by the Twe Prod crew, a collective of French artists founded in 1998. Their pieces can be found all over France, and particularly in Paris, while the Joker graffiti piece is painted on a wall in Nice. The Twe Prod crew is known for their pop culture graffiti, often featuring cartoon characters and realistic portraits.
Pulp Fiction, a 1994 Quentin Tarantino classic, was immortalized once again by none other than Banksy himself. Featuring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as they appear in the movie, holding bananas instead of guns, first appeared on a wall in London in 2007, but it was removed shortly after, due to its “violence”. The piece, however, found its way around it, and is now available on stretched canvas and as print. Interestingly enough, in 2012, one such print was sold for £10,600, proving Banksy’s dominance on the art market yet again.
If by some miracle you haven’t heard of Hanksy, let’s put it this way - he is a big fan of Banksy and Tom Hanks. This New York City street artist is, safe to say, obsessed with the actor, and there are simply too many graffiti homages around the city that mix Banksy’s imagery with Tom Hanks’s head. The popularity of Hanksy’s graffiti and stencils brought him a couple of successful solo exhibitions, including the one at Krause Gallery in New York. Hanksy describes himself as a big Tom Hanks admirer, and he says that his work usually gets mixed reactions, from both the audience and fellow street artists.
Can you imagine? Hanksy does someone OTHER than Tom Hanks! Actually, there are many other actor graffiti homages that the artist has done over the years, many of them including Will Ferrel and Bruce Willis. In this particular piece, we see Marty McFly, portrayed by Michael J. Fox in the legendary trilogy Back to the Future. Creating a parody of Marty McFly’s last name, the graffiti piece located on the cover of Kenmare and Mulberry streets in New York City sees the character turned into, well, a fly, wearing the trademark red vest.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s actress and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn was the protagonist of an amazing street art homage, created by Free Humanity. The colorful piece was accompanied by a quote saying “It's that wonderful old fashioned idea that others come first and you come second” and features the famous actress, who turns out to be a frequent subject in the work of Free Humanity. Audrey Hepburn was also known for her extensive charity work, and street artists have dedicated many of their stencil works and murals to the life and work of this beautiful actress.
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