The Renaissance Man — Legion of Dudes
The first true Renaissance Man was Leonardo da Vinci. A man of many talents, not only did he paint some of the most iconic pieces of art in modern history, like the ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘The Last Supper,’ but he was also a pioneering inventor, mathematician, architect, writer, and...the list goes on and on. Plus, he gets extra credit for actually living during the Renaissance.
Unless you plan to rob his remains from the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in France and drag him around ‘Weekend At Bernie’s’ style, you’re out of luck if you want da Vinci to be the go-to Renaissance Man in your group of dudes. Instead, we made a list of 10 great contenders. BONUS: You won’t have to worry about that whole international grave-robbing caper thing.
Playing on ‘Nevermind’ would be enough for anyone to hang their hat on, but Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana career has been even more prolific than the time he spent behind the drum kit for the legendary Seattle grunge trio. For nearly 20 years, he has been fronting the massively successful Foo Fighters.
Grohl has kept busy outside of the Foos as well, drumming for the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures alongside Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, as well as occasionally performing with his friend Homme in the Queens. This year, Grohl added film director to his lengthy list of credits, with ‘Sound City,’ a documentary about the recording studio of the same name. If that wasn’t enough, his stirring keynote speech at the 2013 SXSW Festival has gone viral, and people love him even more than ever.
As the voice of the mysterious and influential alternative metal band Tool, Maynard James Keenan has been a musical mainstay for decades. Outside of Tool, he leads the almost equally well-known band A Perfect Circle as well as Puscifer, his most recent group.
While Keenan has also dabbled in acting, co-owns a restaurant, and is writing an autobiography, his most notable extra-musical endeavor has been wine. The singer owns Merkin Vineyards and Cadauceus Cellars in Arizona, where he lives. His successful winemaking business was the subject of the documentary film ‘Blood Into Wine: The Arizona Stronghold.’
Rob Zombie’s rock career with his former band White Zombie and as a solo artist has been a runaway success, but his movie career has earned a high profile as well. While albums like his 1998 solo debut ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ through 2013’s ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’ have won him countless fans, he’s also a major player in the horror film genre. He wrote, directed and produced the 2007 remake of ‘Halloween,’ which made more than $80 million, as well as 2009’s ‘Halloween II.’ Zombie has also directed several other films and an episode of ‘CSI: Miami.’
The vegetarian and PETA supporter has also published several comic book series, starting with ‘Spookshow International’ in 2003 and his latest is 2010’s ‘Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock?’
Most guys will remember Chris Hardwick as the dude that put up with Jenny McCarthy on the mid-’90s MTV dating show ‘Singled Out,’ before he had the misfortune of being paired with her replacement, the equally smokin’ Carmen Electra. Poor guy.
The former radio DJ has worked in all facets of media, including standup comedy, hosting ‘Talk Soup,’ writing for Wired magazine and producing the acclaimed ‘Nerdist’ podcast, which was named one of the top 10 comedy podcasts by Rolling Stone in 2011. This fall, he’ll host a new late-night show on Comedy Central.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has packed a lifetime’s worth of achievements into his 32 years, beginning with his run as a child star in the sitcom ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’ as well as movies such as ‘Beethoven,’ ‘Angels In The Outfield’ and ‘10 Things I Hate About You.’ Since then, he’s split his time between serious fare like ‘Mysterious Skin,’ ‘Brick’ and ‘Latter Days,’ the romantic 2009 comedy/drama ‘(500) Days Of Summer’ and blockbusters such as ‘Inception,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.’
In addition to directing and producing, Gordon-Levitt, with his brother Dan, is the co-founder of hitRECord, a unique, interactive production company which has released a book as well as CDs and a DVD. This fall, the new Pivot cable network is scheduled to air a new Gordon-Levitt-hosted variety series called ‘Hit RECord on TV!’
The former ‘30 Rock’ writer is best known for his portrayal of Troy Barnes on NBC’s hit series ‘Community,’ which earned him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, as well as a Satellite Award in a similar category. Glover’s standup has also been featured in his own Comedy Central special, and he’s a member of the Derrick Comedy sketch troupe.
Parallel to his acting and comedy gigs, Glover has undertaken a hip-hop career under the stage name Childish Gambino. As Childish Gambino, Glover has rapped at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, and after releasing several mix tapes, he put out the Childish Gambino album ‘Camp’ in 2011 on Glassnote Records, which has released albums by Phoenix and Mumford & Sons.
Emerging from the street art scene, Rhode Island School of Design graduate Shepard Fairey now has work exhibited in The Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art. However, he’s most known for the iconic ‘HOPE’ poster Barrack Obama used during his 2008 presidential campaign. The image became synonymous with Obama and has even gone on to be the subject of countless parodies.
Fairey's work ranges from screen prints to stencils to stickers, metal, wood and canvas pieces. He also co-founded the guerrilla marketing firm BLK/MRKT, whose clients include Pepsi, Hasbro and Netscape. His Studio Number One Agency has created album covers for The Black Eyed Peas, Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin and Flogging Molly.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, an early-blooming scientist who began giving lectures as a 15-year-old, was so sharp that the legendary Carl Sagan tried to recruit him to Cornell University. Instead, he attended Harvard University for his undergraduate studies. Tyson has published several popular astronomy books and has held positions at many universities. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.
While Tyson’s research is undoubtedly complex, he has taken a populist’s approach to making science interesting to the layman. He hosted ‘NOVA ScienceNow’ on PBS and is a frequent guest on ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘Real Time With Bill Maher.’
Who better to join your Legion Of Dudes than The Dude? Jeff Bridges, known to many for his role as The Dude in the cult favorite ‘The Big Lebowski,’ has put together an impressive and wide-ranging body of work, having appeared in everything from ‘The Last Picture Show’ to ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys,’ ‘Sea Biscuit,’ ‘Tron,’ ‘True Grit’ and ‘Crazy Heart,’ which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Bridges has dabbled in music for years, but has only released two albums, 2000’s ‘Be Here Soon,’ and 2011’s ‘Jeff Bridges,’ which cracked the top 10 of the U.S. Country chart. Photography has been another passion of Bridges since high school, as well. He has been taking photos during movie shoots for more than 30 years, and in 2003 he published the book ‘Pictures: Photographs By Jeff Bridges.’
Actor, comedian, novelist, playwright, and 15-time ‘Saturday Night Live Host’ Steve Martin has been a prime mover in American pop culture since the ’70s, starring in classic comedies such as ‘The Jerk,’ ‘All Of Me,’ ‘The Three Amigos,’ The 'Father of the Bride’ franchise and ‘Bringing Down The House.’ His musical take on King Tut as well as his role has half of the ‘SNL’ funny foreigners the Wild and Crazy Guys are still staples in the comedy pantheon.
Like many actors, Martin has tried his hand at music, but unlike most, he is a legitimate virtuoso on his instrument, the banjo. He has used the banjo in his comedy routines, but it’s something he takes seriously, whether working with the Steep County Rangers or in other configurations. His ‘The Crow: New Songs For The 5-String Banjo’ won the 2010 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, the same year he created the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. The award includes $50,000 and an opportunity to perform with Martin on ‘Late Show with David Letterman.’