Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, 41, chats with Details about Mansome—his new movie about men's grooming obsessions, starring Will Arnett and Jason Bateman—and delves into his experiences with beard pulling, Axe body spray, hair transplants, and eccentric Civil War generals.
Read the interview below, then check out our exclusive coverage of the Hollywood Premiere of Mansome, including interviews with Will Arnett, Lance Bass, and others.
DETAILS: To paraphrase one of your subjects in the movie: How do you know when your manly grooming ritual is wearing you, and not vice versa?Morgan Spurlock: I usually judge that by when I look at my watch, and when it gets past 15 minutes, it's wearing me.
DETAILS: There was a pretty genuinely, ahem, hairy moment in Germany when a passerby interrupted the filming to yank on Jack Passion's beard [pictured below], repeatedly. Did you ever have similar moments when you still had a moustache?
Morgan Spurlock: People look at him and think he has this big fake beard—it happens all the time, especially when you're around a bunch of crazy drunks. I never had my moustache that long, but with the horseshoe moustache, people usually just pull on it.
DETAILS: Having owned a pretty substantial, eccentric-Civil War-general beard myself, my major issue was eating anything without getting half of it stuck in the bird's nest. What was the weirdest beard-food disaster you saw while filming?
Morgan Spurlock: Jack Passion is so careful about what he eats. He wouldn't eat anything—nachos or ribs or chili or chicken wings—even the slightest messy thing, until we finished shooting. He's incredibly dainty.
DETAILS: Did you find any link between the rise in men's obsession with their appearance and their loss of a monopoly on the workplace?
Morgan Spurlock: I think it's not the workplace in general, I think it's manhood in general. The time when men used to work in factories, chop down trees, and do these things to prove their own sense of manhood is gone. Now we sit at a desk in front of a computer screen. The thing we see as manly now is this slick, smooth idea of a man who's in great shape, and doesn't have a beard or moustache—that's what we've created, this perfect representation of manhood. And the way magazines have pushed these insecurities on men is just like the way they did on women: "Become a better you!" They continue the idea that something is wrong with you.
DETAILS: So what's the next step in the evolution of what's manly?
Morgan Spurlock: I think in the end, men are all going to be thin and anorexic and have beards like Wes Bentley in The Hunger Games. Or we're all going to say "Fuck it!" and become hairy Neanderthals. We'll be too lazy and we'll have eaten too much fast food, and say, "Why do we even bother trying to impress each other?" One of those two paths.
DETAILS: Was there any grooming trend you shot that was so way out there that it ended up on the cutting-room floor?
Morgan Spurlock: One of the things I wanted to talk about was the male obsession with male-pattern baldness, the idea that losing your hair is losing your manhood. We filmed somebody who was getting a full-on hair transplant, where they cut out the back of your head and put in the front. But the thing is, we met Mr. Carmine, this guy who was creating these rugs for people that are so real they're phenomenal, and he was incredibly charming and engaging.
DETAILS: What do you think was the turning point for men's grooming in recent history?
Morgan Spurlock: The point that Axe body spray hit the market. There was a before-Axe body spray and a post-Axe body spray. It was a sea change after Axe came out. I came from the Drakkar Noir era.
DETAILS: What's the Morgan Spurlock grooming routine?
Morgan Spurlock: I take a shower, get out, put on deodorant, put some Kiehl's in my hair, shave my face, and my aftershave is Chanel Allure—that's the only one I use. I guess I'm product-loyal, but I'm not so loyal to deodorant or anything else. Oh, and I use Mane 'N Tail shampoo. Leftovers from The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. I'll probably have that forever—those bottles are so gigantic.
DETAILS: What's your next project?
Morgan Spurlock: Right now we're trying to get a narrative film off the ground.
DETAILS: Finally, how did you manage to go through the entire movie without showing a picture of Ambrose Burnside?
Morgan Spurlock: [Laughs.] You're the second person to ask that question. There's going to have to be a DVD appearance, I think.
—Michael Y. Park is a writer living in New York City and a regular contributor to Details.com.