What’s handsome? It’s not what it used to be in Hollywood. There are quite a few fine actors today who aren’t conventional in their looks, but they’re way sexier than in the old days — except for Steve McQueen. There will never be another McQueen. He wasn’t conventionally good looking either, just sexy. So are these actors who defy conventional looks and made my list…
10. John Turturro
First of all, he satisfies my lust to hear my native language: a New York accent. Even when he plays a kind of jerkoff, like Herbie Stempel in Quiz Show, there’s something about him that’s sexy. OK, maybe he wasn’t too sexy tonguing a bowling ball in The Big Lebowski, and maybe not so much in Barton Fink with all that insecurity and sweating, but he got the sexiness across as real-life mob leader Sam Giancana who had the hot-n’-heavies for singer Phyllis McGuire (Mary-Louise Parker) in Sugartime.
9. John C. Reilly
His attraction is looking strong, scruffy, and sexy. From holding his own next to George Clooney in The Perfect Storm to playing a spider-loving vampire in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, Reilly’s got a long career ahead, portraying leading men as well as sidekicks and character parts. He turns ordinary into sexy.
8. Philip Seymour Hoffman
I know, you want to know what’s sexy about him, right? It’s the look of money. With the exception of Capote, Doubt, and that ultra weird movie, Synecdoche, New York, he looks as though he’d come to your rescue by either defeating Tom Cruise in a smackdown or buying you out of trouble. He just looks rich. Rich is sexy.
7. Michael Chiklis
The moment he shaved all the hair off his head, he got sexy. He was only so-so as John Belushi in Wired, and not even that in The Commish, but as Detective Vic Mackey in The Shield, he became sexy. Bald is sexy, like Sean Scott Maguire pointed out to Fandomania in his “list of men who the Hair Club wants dead.” Chiklis didn’t make that list, but he made this one.
6. Tim Roth
I first saw him in Vincent and Theo, as Vincent Van Gogh, and was impressed. He was like Bogart (not handsome, but you couldn’t take your eyes off him). Again in Reservoir Dogs, he was a standout. In Murder in the Heartland, the true story of killer Charles Starkweather, who terrorized the Midwest, gunning people down if they were in his way or just because he felt like it, it wasn’t hard to understand why his 14-year-old girlfriend went along with him. Roth was sexy. The real Starkweather? Not so much.
5. Joaquin Phoenix
Physical characteristics that might have turned off fans in the past only add to his charm. Sure, brother River was “prettier,” but even as early as To Die For, Joaquin was showing sexy signs. Think Two Lovers, with Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t know why he’s taken to covering his face with all that messy hair unless he’s thinking of turning Amish, or auditioning for a remake of The Wolf Man. (A similar scraggly beard has de-sexy’d Brad Pitt.)
4. Steve Buscemi
Hanging with Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers is enough to make him sexy. Also, he plays up his shortcomings, is a really good actor and, besides, he’s very funny. Funny is sexy, if you don’t count Fargo‘s woodchipper. He’s been married to the same woman for over 20 years and that’s sexy.
3. James Gandolfini
The Sopranos alone would qualify Gandolfini as sexy. All that power. All that money. All those smarts. The trifecta of sexiness. Best of all, Tony Soprano was almost bald. It will be interesting to see how Gandolfini will play Ernest Hemingway, when and if that film actually starts shooting in 2011.
2. Chris Cooper
Whether a traitor in Breach, an eccentric horse trainer in Seabiscuit, or a swamp-plant mutilator in Adaptation, he’s very sexy. He is sexy just standing there. Maybe it’s the intensity he brings to every performance, or the unique voice that makes you feel like like you’re getting sex-bombed, or the quiet strength he exudes. He probably sweats diesel fuel. Whatever it is that makes someone sexy, he’s got it.
1. Vincent D’Onofrio
Not your basic handsome, but sexy in a powerful way. Whether he’s psyching out killers on L&O: CI reruns, or planting a juicy one on Renee Zellweger in The Whole Wide World, or as Orson Welles in Ed Wood, he is one sexy guy. Well, maybe not as the whacked-out Pvt. Pyle in Full Metal Jacket, or in nipple rings in The Cell, or Edgar in MIB, but think of how many parts he’s played as a super smart and cool guy. Smart is sexy. So is he.
Mickey Rourke didn’t make this list because when he was sexy, way back in Nine 1/2 Weeks, he was good looking, and that doesn’t count on this list. Today, he does have unconventional looks, but he’s far from sexy.