The 8 Best Smokers on Film

by Jenny Novac on November 16, 2011

Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not (1944)

Smoking Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall smoking in To Have and Have Not

This famous scene between Bacall and her future husband Humphrey Bogart glamorized cigarettes in ways that movie studios would never dream of doing today. On a decidedly less glamorous note, Humphrey Bogart died in 1957 after contracting cancer of the esophagus. Bacall reportedly put out her last cigarette in 1986.

Bette Davis, All About Eve (1950)

Smoking Bette Davis

Bette Davis smoking in All About Eve film

Try to imagine Bette Davis without heavy eyelids, a perma-sneer or a cigarette sagging between her fore and middle fingers. It just can’t be done. Her role as an aging Broadway star in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s film re-established her as one of the most legendary actresses and on-screen smokers of all-time. In addition, Eve earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Leading Actress and a small bounty of carcinogens as this film was shot long before those fake movie cigs.

Al Pacino, Godfather (1972)

smoking Al Pacino

A scene with Al Pacino from The Godfather film

Golden Globe winner has had a tumultuous relationship with cigarettes, judging from the list of continuity-related smoking complaints filed on his film’s various IMDB pages. Still, these minor moments couldn’t distract less nitpicky viewers from the fact that Al Pacino knows how to take a solid drag, and make even the act of lighting a cigarette magical.

Paul Newman, The Sting (1973)

Smoking Paul Newman

Paul Newman smoking in The Sting

Late in Paul Newman’s career, the actor commented that he was amazed that he survived “all the booze and smoking,” involved in his work. Both of these elements are seen in Newman’s 1973 caper film in which he plays a professional grifter slinging cards and cigars alongside Robert Redford. In 2008, the actor, director and humanitarian passed away from what was widely reported to be lung cancer.

Robert De Niro, Midnight Run/Goodfellas (1988)

Smoking Robert De Niro

Smoking Robert De Niro in Midnight Run/Goodfellas

Last year, Movieline sister site Deadline reported that Universal was considering making a sequel to De Niro’s 1988 buddy comedy with Charles Grodin. But how the studio brings this weekend’s Golden Globe honoree back for the role of a cop-turned-bounty hunter — who spent over 90 percent of his airtime in the original film chain-smoking — without a tobacco vice? “Watch your e-cigarette with this guy Jack” simply doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Bruce Willis, Die Hard (1988)

Smoking Bruce Willis

Smoking scene with Bruce Willis in Die Hard film

Who knew that you would have so much time to smoke cigarettes while saving a company Christmas party from international terrorists? As John McClane in the first Die Hard film, Bruce Willis used Gauloise cigarettes to chat up Alan Rickman’s amazingly-named villain Hans Gruber and to bolster his machismo after dodging bullets and saving hostages.

John Travolta, Get Shorty (1995)

Smoking John Travolta

John Travolta in Get Shorty film

Insinuate what you will about John Travolta, the man knows how to hold a cigarette with style. If John Travolta was billed first in this Barry Sonnenfeld film, John Travolta’s cigarette should have been billed second. John Travolta Smoking Fun Fact: Paramount removed Danny Zuko’s cigarettes from the Grease’s sing-along trailer last year.

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises (2007)

Smoking Viggo Mortensen

Eastern Promises's smoking scene with Viggo Mortensen

Let’s hear it for Viggo Mortensen, the most recent actor (on this list) to use cigarettes to establish his dangerousness and sex appeal. In David Cronenberg’s gangster thriller, Mortenson played a chain-smoking Russian mobster who put out cigarettes with his tongue…while shirtless.

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