Whatever Happened to The Hollywood Hunk?

What I'm about to say is probably going to come across as superficial. It might even piss some people off. But here goes: what in holy heck has happened to Hollywood's leading men? I thought of this for the 100th time the other night, while I was watching the Star Wars trilogy and drooling over Han Solo. You see, my puberty and teenage fantasies were often fortified by watching manly men--not boys--grace the silver screen. Men like Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner (three of my big movie crushes right there), Clint Eastwood, Patrick Swayze, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman (older by this point but still sexy), Al Pacino, Richard Gere, Michael Biehn (Terminator), Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson (long before we knew he was a racist fucknut), Alan Rickman, Burt Reynolds and countless other hotties. It was a great time to be a teenage girl, and movie machismo was freely overflowing. I'm not even counting the action stars that enjoyed fame in the 80s (mainly because I personally didn't find them attractive, although I did have a friend who loved Arnold Schwarzenegger. And let's face it, Ah-nold WAS a man.)

Not to mention ever since movies made that epic jump from silent to talkies, men who were men in the traditional sense of the word set many movie fans' hearts racing. I'm sure your mother or grandmother crushed on Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Sidney Potier, George Peppard, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson (the last two being so sexy and masculine we never questioned their sexuality) just to name a few.

Now don't get me wrong--I love the "average guy" actors, too. My favorite actor and absolute biggest celebrity crush is Kevin Spacey. To me he's the male equivalent of the girl next door. He may not be every woman's idea of a hunk, but I think he's sexy and funny as hell and exudes class. He's a grown up man. And I can also appreciate men like John O'Reilly, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. They're great actors. 

But when it comes to the names who are often headlining today's biggest movies, I find myself scratching my head. Something is seriously missing. In my opinion they can't even come close--both on the hottie meter and talent indicator--to the greats who came before them. Who am I talking about? Shia Labeouf, Ashton Kucher (his remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was the worst piece of crap I've ever seen) Tobey Maguire, Robert Pattinson, Jason Segal, Seth Rogan (c'mon, were we really supposed to believe that Katherine Heigel banged him in Knocked Up, drunk or not?), Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Black, Ryan Reynolds, or just about anyone else that People magazine or Access Hollywood tries to tell me is sexy. I'm sure that off screen, some of these guys are nice guys (Segal worked with The Muppets, after all) but I still feel compelled to clear something up that is probably going to get their fans' panties in a huge wad: most of these guys are not men, they're boys. To me the majority of them seem rather immature, scruffy, dweeby (in a bad way), overweight or a combination of any of those qualities. And what's really surprising to me is that women my age adore some of them. Middle aged moms make up a big portion of the Twilight fan demographic, despite the fact that Robert Pattinson apparently hates to wash himself and stinks worse than Pig Pen. Yuck. Funny, but even when I was a teen, I never paid attention to the actors of the time who were teens themselves. Why would I have wanted a picture of the Karate Kid hanging in my locker, when I could have had Indiana Jones? (No offense to Ralph Macchio; he's a good guy.)

Personally, I'm hard pressed to name any A list actor off the top of my head who is a. American, b. under the age of 35 and c. sexy/manly. Most of the guys that I find appealing are imports from other countries (Russell Crowe before he got fat, and Gerald Butler) or mainly television actors--Jon Hamm and Josh Lucas (The Firm, which sadly, I think was just canceled) or both--Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Damian Lewis, and Jason Isaacs (Awake.) For a while we had Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio (none of which I found sexy but at least they were somewhat manly) and George Clooney, but as he advances into middle age, who from young Hollywood can possibly take his place? 

I think there is one major trend driving the influx of young 'uns into leading movie roles: Hollywood just isn't making as many intelligent dramatic films as they used to. Hence, there's fewer demand for mature male actors who can fill a serious leading role. There seems to have been a shift during the past few years to movies that are based on teen book series (the Twilight series and now, The Hunger Games) and dumb and revolting comedies, which means the schlubby funny guys are headlining movies. And yet...I look back on the SNL guys I grew up with like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd and still think there were way more attractive, masculine, and funnier than the likes of Jon Heder. 

If this is the direction that Hollywood is headed, then the future of the classic film hunk seems to be in serious danger. Please don't tell me to suck it up, that this is a sign of the times, that these guys are more realistic to what we see in real life, to get used to it, etc. because I won't hear of it--for nearly a century we had classy, sexy movie men and in the course of a decade they seemed to have all but disappeared.  

Ladies, do you agree?

And hey my male readers--what say you about women in movies? Do you think there's anyone out there today who can compare to the actresses of past decades or have you had enough as well? 


  1. I agree..but hopefully guys like Idris Elba will change that and forgot to mention Sindey Poiter

  2. I do agree. There are very few attractive (to me) men in Hollywood these days. But I can name one that I find quite attractive, that is American and is under the age of 35
    JAKE GYLLENHAAL (he's 32) and in the majority of his roles (Like Jarhead) he's quite scrumptious and I am a self declared Gyllenhaalic!

    What about Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper? They're not so bad either (oh but I think they're over 35)

    Ryan Gosling is attractive but I don't like his acting too much (and he's Canadian -so he doesn't meet all your criteria.

    Men certainly have a far bigger pool to pick from than women do that's for sure!

  3. Part of the problem is the fixation on youth. One of my favorite movies is "Network" - just look at the age of most of the cast members. A movie like that wouldn't be made today.

    As a guy, there aren't many female actresses working today that have presence, although I will see any damn thing with Juliette binoche in it. Amy adams gives me hope but she can't seem to find consistently good roles. She's no Myrna Loy, though.

    Good God, I pray they never try to remake "The Thin Man."

  4. I can't think of any Hollywood actor at the moment that I find attractive. Maybe Harry Connick Jr...
    I know it should be about the acting ability but it's nice to watch someone attractive too sometimes.

  5. I was going to mention Hollywood's fixation with youth but Regularjoe was on that one!

    I like a couple of younger actors, like Jensen Ackles, but in general, I like my guys a little crusty and older! :) Usually dead... I love a good leathery 70s man like Roy Scheider or Charles Bronson.

    I wrote a little bit about this myself last week. I'm going to post the link (hope that's OK):


    While I'm not madly in love with every guy on that list I made, they are most certainly MEN. And Fabian, good lord, he was (and still is) HOT.

    I know that there will always be teen idols, and honestly, Daniel Radcliffe is a cutie (and so wonderful in The Woman in Black), but I often feel like people over 30 are being left out of the world of film, unless it's like you say, a stupid rom-com or something. I just don't want to see the return of men, I would like a resurgence of stories for people in their 40s where the women aren't "cougars" and the men are attractive, dignified and actually look like men. (for the record, I think Jackie Brown did a good job of featuring older people who looked real and were beautiful in that realness).

    I'm not asking for the world, you know!

    Great article!

  6. Hi, Pam
    I do agree with alot of what you said. I was never really into to teen idols back in the 80s and my crushes then also were older - Harrison Ford and Tom Selleck. I've always liked the classic Hollywood actors too esp. Gregory Peck and James Garner.

    There are some cute guys nowadays but personality wise they don't seem to appeal to me as much as the older stars. I do prefer some of the British actors and other foreign ones.

    I'm pretty much over some of the late in life crushes that I've had on younger stars like Jensen Ackles and James Franco.

    I really enjoyed this post. I know that there is more that I'd like to say about it but my mind is kind of blank now. Maybe I'll stop by again later.

    Hope that you are doing well these days.

  7. I hate to say this, but I think this is our fault. Or at least our mother's fault.
    We demanded the "sensitive" man. The Phil Donahues and the Princes. We felt that the "macho" man was a throwback to cavemen times and, our favorite word, Chauvinistic. We demanded more "sensitive" men who used their minds, not their fists. The college feminists were in charge and along with eliminating Dodgeball in school, (how barbaric)we needed to glorify the man who was in touch with his feminine side.

    You see the results. We got what we asked for.

    Now, there are a few men on the big and small screen. Mark Harmon, for example. But they have to go out of their way to show all his social flaws. This is so we can have him in our livingroom, we just don't want his type in our lives.

    No, you pretty much nailed it. We have done this to ourselves. Thank heavens for Turner Classic Movies.

  8. I agree 100%,how could I disagree with someone that has such impeccable taste? Kevin Spacey...Bobby Darin? You rock! I would have to add Al Pacino to my top three real men. There are many many more but unfortunately they are all from the past.

  9. Such great comments...I really miss seeing older actors matched up with age appropriate actresses, too. It seems bizarre that just about every movie today focuses on young characters. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Hollywood is definitely catering to teens these days and I feel like other age groups are rarely represented unless it's in an independent film.

    My Little Corner -- I do think Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper are attractive. Jake, not so much but maybe I need to see him the right role.

    I do think Mark Wahlberg is a hottie. I was never a NKOTB fan but I can appreciate his acting.

    I just feel that some of these other guys never seem to age or mature...they all look like they're 21 even when they're in their 30s. It's hard for me to explain but the actors from generations past seemed like grown up men.

    And Jo Jo, yes, gotta love Kevin and Bobby!

  10. I wonder if Hollywood has figured out their bread and butter for movies are the younger demographic and TV is the "older" demographic because other than Daniel Radcliffe,I mostly agree with you. The strong jawed rugged men are on my tv,like Andrew Lincoln(yes go look him up even if he isn't American)and I have to say that Blair Redford is showing some potential even if he is on the teen show The Lying Game,but Adrian Pasdar is hawt! Meh,my cable bill is cheaper than a trip to the movies every weekend anyway. =D

    Sorry for all that rambling. It is to essentially say you are right.


  11. How far we've come err.. (fallen?) since the good old days. I remember as a boy wanting to be like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, and Sean Connery.

    If I were a boy today who would I want to emulate? Brad? Leo? J. Biebs? The Situation? What the heck?!?! The flippin' names aren't even distinguished, dapper, or "hunky" any more! Woe is us..

  12. I watched Spiderman (thanks to my hubbie) and wondered how much more pansie-a**ed Tobey McGuire could be as a super hero...

    There seems to be a push to emasculate men or in general femenize the men like some ever present CK commercial.

    All these are boys, skinny, scruffy, and need to wash and brush their hair - never did get that style - but maybe it's becuase I'm 37 and I thought hair band hair was ok - good grief!

    I think Ryan Reynolds and a nice 6'2" and fine body doesn't fit their mold - he's not American, but he's so incredibly squeezable (IMHO). I also like the presense of Hugh Jackman, Harry Connick Jr. (I can see a type forming here)... and even Bradley Cooper is, yes, hot. I need some height on my man though - why is everyone in Hollywood 5'8" and 160 lbs? That's not manly, that's ME. I need someone strong, and substantial. Javier Bardem is ALMOST there (again, not American) but he kinda needs a shower looking, too.

    Anyway, you are right. Pansie A$$es the lot of them.

  13. I think Elizabeth Banks has that womanly studio-era Hollywood something. And she works a bunch. The material out there doesn't give her much of a running start to show her combination of depth and glamor - (Whadaya going to do under a fright wig, Kabuki makeup and a Mae West frock in Hunger Games and a sequel?) Easier to see it in Seabiscuit. But think of how she humanized Zack & Miri, against all odds. And how she never condescended in Invincible, bringing honest class to working-class. I like 'er. I think what she's got would've worked in the days of MGM and Warners.

  14. Obviously I was responding to Retro's invitation about female actors rather than hunks. Not qualified to comment on the hunk issue, but glad to transpose the question to women in acting.

  15. Kevin Spacey... girl next door?? Well he is a gay icon...

  16. Kevin Spacey is a gay icon...

  17. Kevin Spacey... girl next door?? Well he is a gay icon...


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