It’s said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, which is why a good stare can be so unnerving. It doesn’t matter if you see it in-person or on a TV screen – there’s something undeniable about the chills you get when someone turns his or her steely gaze in your direction. Even though you might be a bit intimidated at first, a good stare is hard to come by.
Not just anybody can furrow his or her brow and call it a stare, though. The best ones have been tempered by time as well as hardship, though they’re wielded by the good and evil alike. Put on your best game face and check out these six famous stares from real and fictional figures throughout history, movies, sports and more.
1. Muhammad Ali
Some stares on this list are up for debate, but this isn’t one of them. Born Cassius Clay, Ali rose to become the greatest boxer of his day and arguably of all time. While Ali trained hard to sharpen his boxing skills, he never skimped on his trademark swagger, either.
Boxing is a sport that breeds conflict between two men, and Ali thrived in this environment. In fact, Ring TV explained that, before Ali’s now-famous fight with world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, one of Ali’s trainers told him to stare down his opponent all throughout the pre-fight procedures.
Ali’s victory over Liston and his entire career was probably due more to his skill at boxing than his menacing glare, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
2. Winston Churchill
You don’t earn a nickname like the British Bulldog without at least some degree of intimidation shown through a sharp glare, and the U.K.’s most famous prime minister was no stranger to a harsh stare.
The History Channel explained that some of Churchill’s most powerful non-combat weapons during World War II were his speeches – combined with an icy and determined stare. The Bulldog’s famous “Victory at all costs” speech where he implored the U.K. and all of Europe to defeat Nazi Germany or perish would have been a bold move for the PM at any point, but that marked his first official appearance in front of the House of Commons as prime minister.
LASIK surgery normally gives patients clear vision, but there’s no doubt that Churchill had that in spades.
3. Norman Bates
Some people accuse modern movies of giving too much away in their trailers, but Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark film “Psycho” lets you know what you’re in store for. A groundbreaking film from a narrative and cinematic perspective, the only scene that might top the infamous moment in the shower is the film’s penultimate shot of Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, arrested and sitting in a police holding cell.
Film.com ranked the slow zoom-in on Bates’ face as the fifth greatest closing scene of all time, but when the crazed innkeeper finally raises his eyes to the camera, most audiences want to check out as soon as possible.
4. Bob Probert
If you were playing in the National Hockey League during the ’80s, you were either scoring goals in bunches or fighting several times a game. Over his 16-year career, Probert had only 163 goals. However, he did have 3,300 penalty minutes.
Probert didn’t look like your stereotypical grizzled enforcer, but when he set his sights on someone, that person usually headed for the safe space of the bench. Total Pro Sports ranked Probert as the fourth greatest enforcer in NHL history, though hearing that would probably only enrage him.
5. Bob Gibson
In baseball, they say that the battle between the pitcher and batter is won before the first pitch. Some players like to scout out the opposition and compile reams of research on them, but others prefer intimidation and 90-mile-per-hour fastballs high and tight.
That’s why Bleacher Report ranked Gibson’s pitcher’s mound staredown as the scariest in all of baseball history. Gibson also had an unorthodox delivery that confused some hitters during his career, so between that, the stare and the pitch, hitters sometimes didn’t know where to look.
6. Jack Torrance
In both the Steven King novel of the same name and the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation, “The Shining” focuses on one man’s descent into madness. However, Vulture pointed out that Jack Nicholson’s interpretation of the character has some crazy stares from the very first scene.
It may only be when Torrance splits the door apart with an ax that you see the mad glint in Nicholson’s eye, but the actor has made a living ever since playing slightly unhinged or completely maniacal characters.
A great stare is something you’re born with, but you need to take care of your vision to hone in on your target for the finishing touches on your best intimidating glare.
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