Five Characters Who Are Sexier Than The Actors Who Play Them

Hugh Jackman is one thing, but Wolverine is another.

By James Brady Ryan

We tend to praise the sexy stars who make themselves totally unfuckable on film — as if they're courageously facing off, David-like, against the overwhelming force of their own attractiveness. (See Charlize Theron in Monster, et al.) But what about the actors who somehow deliver sexy performances, when in real life we wouldn't let them near our beds no matter how many drinks we've had? Here are five movie characters who are way sexier than the actors portraying them.

1. Jerry (Colin Farrell), Fright Night

Colin Farrell was widely considered to be a pretty sexy guy, until his messy personal life started getting headlines. His trip to rehab was obviously a good choice for his own life, but it's not a turn-on. Then there was the sex tape he made with Playboy model Nicole Narain, which was more uncomfortable than arousing. But his role as vampire-next-door Jerry in the 2011 remake of Fright Night was great proof of the sexiness of evil. Jerry was dangerous and seductive, and unlike Farrell, he seemed to take showers. Farrell seems to be moving past his status as a tabloid mainstay, though, so maybe soon he'll start seeming more doable than a bloodthirsty vampire with amazing eyebrows.

2. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Zombieland

Yes, some people are attracted to Jesse Eisenberg in real life. But their reasons have more to do with his intelligence, his talent, and his adorable awkwardness. These are all great things, but they don't scream "raw sexuality." (They kind of mumble it under their breath and then go stand in the corner.) But as a survivor battling his way through a zombie apocalypse, Eisenberg actually starts to get straight-up hot. For most of the film he keeps up his usual young-Woody Allen air, but by the ending — in which his character kills the crap out of some zombies to save the girl he loves — Eisenberg captures a bit of action-hero swagger that's normally missing in his cerebral roles. I wouldn't want him like that all the time, but I definitely want him to revisit it. Soon.

3. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), X-Men

This is kind of like shooting musical-theater fish in an Oscar-host barrel. (Metaphor. Nailed it.) Few knew who Hugh Jackman was before seeing him as Wolverine, the hairy, cocky, fuck-not-giving mutant who stole the show in X-Men. Were they in for a surprise! Because the real Hugh Jackman is a hammy, jovial, Broadway-loving imp. He smiles a lot, and he takes on stage roles as one of Liza Minnelli's gay ex-husbands. (I think she had, like, nine.) The real Hugh Jackman doesn't cage-fight and steal motorcycles and have crazy sideburns that you think are gross but also sort of hot. Jackman is a whiz at hosting Oscar ceremonies, but Wolverine is a prototypical asshole with a heart of gold, and the latter tends to inspire more passion.

4. Maximus (Russell Crowe), Gladiator

Gladiator hasn't aged very well, but Maximus was the role that really cemented Russell Crowe as a bona fide star, and justifiably so. Couple his noble qualities with his impressive physicality (and his revealing Roman outfits), and Maximus becomes a guy who can really get your blood pumping. Too bad, then, that in real life Russell Crowe is a hard-drinking, fight-picking, phone-throwing jerk a lot of the time. While Crowe has almost always apologized for his less than gentlemanly behavior, and while he's done some good work since his days of swords and sandals, the bloom is pretty much off the rose after you assault a hotel employee.

5. Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller is a righteous dude, the kind of high-school crush object who's rebellious but not scary, snarky but not mean, exciting but not a speed addict. And it's probably because of Broderick's boyish good looks that Ferris's antics come off so well. (Imagine Charlie Sheen's character running off with someone's car. Not as charming.) But the thing about Matthew Broderick, now a forty-nine-year-old father of three, is that he never stopped being boyish. Even with gray creeping into his hair, he still looks shockingly like his iconic high-school character. And while his well-to-do Manhattanite father aura is certainly sweet, thinking of him in a sexual way makes me feel like a babysitter who's getting hit on by the father giving me a ride home.

Commentarium (53 Comments)

Nov 01 11 - 2:03am

"Gladiator hasn't aged very well"

You definitely need to watch Gladiator again if you believe this statement to be true.

Nov 01 11 - 7:34am

Actually it's always been terrible, it just shows more and more with age. Kinda like how Crash won an Oscar in '05 and has grown more hated every year since. Gladiator's not an outright disaster like Crash, but man it's pretty mediocre, if not outright bad at points. That Best Picture Oscar definitely looks sillier by the year, at least.

Nov 01 11 - 8:59am

When Gladiator was in the theatres, I felt like I was the only straight woman on earth who wasn't swooning over Russell Crowe and/or his character in it. I watched it after being told a gazillion times that I HAD to see him (him, not it), and I fell asleep in the middle of it.

Nov 01 11 - 10:57am

Gladiator was absolutely awful

Nov 01 11 - 12:10pm

What? Gladiator is fucking great.

Nov 01 11 - 2:19pm

Wow, such a difference of opinions! Obviously he only way to settle this is through some sort of hand-to-hand combat match in a public venue.

Nov 01 11 - 3:46pm

Wassamatta with you folks Gladiator is awesome!!

Nov 01 11 - 7:51pm
Another Guy

WTF? Gladiator and Crash are both excellent flicks. Don't like 'em? Go pound salt.

Nov 01 11 - 9:57pm

...Really? There are still people that defend Crash?

Nov 02 11 - 1:28am

Gladiator wasn't the best because it killed quickly. It was the best because the crowd loved it. Win the crowd and you will win your... Oscar.

Nov 02 11 - 8:33am

I have to rewatch Gladiator before I pass judgement. The last time I watched it was 10 and also thought George of the Jungle was pretty good.

"Win the crowd and you will win your oscar" Really? Do you actually watch the Oscars? If this were true Avatar would've won best picture. Win over the academy and you win your oscar.

Nov 02 11 - 2:25pm

Re: Myke

I stand by my defense of Gladiator, though I am totally in agreement with the statement that Crash is one of the worst movies to generate Oscar hype in the history of the awards. What an awful piece of film.

Nov 07 11 - 10:36pm

To be honest, I really enjoyed Gladiator. I didn't think of it as Oscar material or anything, but it was (and is) a fun popcorn movie.

Crash, on the other hand, was so awful. I watched it in the theater before all the Oscar hype and laughed out loud at all the self-serious cardboard stereotypes weeping across the screen. The Academy is embarrassingly PC sometimes. It didn't deserve a Razzie let alone an Oscar.

Nov 11 11 - 4:55pm

crash really is a terrible film.

Nov 01 11 - 9:27am

I'll grant the first three, but not Crowe or Brodrick. Its simply not fair to compare the sexiness of an actor to a role he played so long ago (Farris Bueller was 25 years ago!) And Crow was never really sexy, even in Gladiator. Intense - yes, sexy - no.

Nov 01 11 - 11:30am

Hm yeah, it's terrible like a Hollywood blockbuster can be. As such, it's also not that bad. It's a nudge towards old timey gladiator movies. Really, the only absolutely terrible thing about it is the stupid notion that an emperor would condescend to fight in an arena. The rest is rather common Hollywood bull. It's hardly the worst movie to get Best Picture. Hell, Braveheart and Forrest Gump got it too!

Nov 01 11 - 5:11pm

Actually the historical Emperor Commodus fought many times in the arena as a gladiator.

Nov 01 11 - 7:52pm
Yet Another Guy

Hahahahaha! DDT - pwned!!!

Nov 01 11 - 11:41am
Just Sayin'

Jackman played Peter Allen on Broadway, who was *Liza Minnelli's* gay husband, not Judy's. And maybe I'm gay, but I'd rather have sex with the gold-lame-pants-wearing Hugh than the hairy, beclawed Jackman.

Nov 01 11 - 11:52am

Ack, you're right! (Gay card revoked.) But I'd still pick hairy Jackman over gold-lame Jackman.

Nov 01 11 - 3:37pm

Hairy HJ > Lamé HJ

Nov 05 11 - 11:01pm

The really sexy Jackman is the charitable, loving husband and father who actually seems to enjoy his life. Cloning anyone?

Nov 01 11 - 2:51pm
jane wiedlin

Legolas/ Orlando Bloom!!!!

Nov 02 11 - 2:19am

The only man who makes a blond flowing wig sexy.

Nov 07 11 - 10:38pm

That's pretty much the ultimate example of this phenomenon!

Nov 17 11 - 2:47pm


Nov 18 11 - 9:02am

But Orlando Bloom's Sexy!

Nov 01 11 - 4:38pm

Author: Easy to prove your point when you pick fugly pictures to compare them to

Nov 01 11 - 6:40pm

I'm fairly certain that's the point.

Nov 01 11 - 7:52pm
Still Another Guy

Only fairly?

Nov 01 11 - 6:37pm

How about Donald Draper vs Jon Hamm.

Nov 01 11 - 10:01pm

What's wrong with Jon Hamm? The man is bursting with talent.

Nov 01 11 - 10:35pm

bursting with talent?
No, I agree, that's just strange wording

Nov 01 11 - 7:48pm

You forgot Val Kilmer batman and his fat self

Nov 01 11 - 7:50pm

I never found him sexy in Gladiator. LA Confidential and 310 to Yuma are where it's at for me.

Nov 01 11 - 10:01pm

Wouldn't you say this is true of most actors that play really sexy (especially clever, suave or dangerous) men? In real life, they're just actors.

Nov 02 11 - 8:18am
Cameron bryant

Colin farrell is fucking gorgeous!! I mean, come on people those big brown seductive eyes the boyishly charming smile followd by that outstandingly SEXY!! That head of hair that you just want2 run ur fingers through and that rocking hot body you wanna, well.....Run your fingers DOWN ! and all OVER!

Nov 02 11 - 8:35am

I would say Christian Bale as anything versus actual real life slightly crazy Christian Bale.

Nov 02 11 - 11:51am
EJ Dickson

"the bloom is pretty much off the rose after you assault a hotel employee."


Do one with ladies! I nominate Helena Bonham Carter in "Fight Club." And Glenn Close during the first twenty minutes of "Fatal Attraction."

Nov 02 11 - 7:34pm

No! HBC is great in everything, except maybe the very early stuff. What about "Big Fish"?

Nov 04 11 - 8:45pm

HBC is downright sexy.

Nov 18 11 - 9:03am

Oh, hell yes, she is. She's got this gothic-princess thing going on. :D

Nov 03 11 - 10:19pm
just saying

You nailed your metaphor with a simile.

Nov 04 11 - 12:50am

Crash was absolutely the worst movie I have ever seen in my life as was Gladiator. The fact that they both won awards was and is really disturbing

Nov 04 11 - 3:26pm

Mickey Rourke in Barfly vs Mickey Rourke? Anybody?

Nov 04 11 - 6:02pm

how anyone can categorize eisenberg as sexy is beyond me, and I'm sorry but colin is super sexy 24/7! Haha, but other then those exceptions, a good list.

Nov 05 11 - 11:03am

Oh, come on! Hugh Jackman is a gorgeous specimen, in Wolverine guise or as his normal self. You had to post a high camp pic of him playing a flamboyantly gay character AT THE TONY's to make your point. With all the others, you posted paparazzi shots.

Nov 17 11 - 2:49pm

I thought that too. I have a hard time imagining any straight, single woman saying no to a date with him.

Nov 07 11 - 11:34pm

Yes Wolverine is incredibly hot, tortured, violent and all that stuff. But the fact that Hugh Jackman is actually secure enough to play a man whose gayness could be seen from space, then go back and be believable as Wolverine makes the real man sexier than his characters.

Nov 08 11 - 1:08pm
in bed

What about that dude, Hugh Laurie, who plays House. In "House" strangely hot, but he's also quite unhot (i.e. playing bumbling bad guy in some awful Disney movie). Anyone? Anyone?

Nov 10 11 - 9:35pm
Simmy Lasseno

Why are there no females in this list?

Nov 18 11 - 5:03pm

Crowe is a fine actor and he was a sexy Roman general and the performance was thoughtful, nuanced acting. The movie has held up quite well and is listed at IMDB at number 88 out of the top 250 movies of all time. This film never was a ,"popcorn flick",ie; a pass the time kind of movie ,like LOTR and plenty of critics mislabled Gladiator and still do. The poster of these comments is behind the times as is that photo of Crowe.For the record Crowe has given great performances in Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander,Cinderella Man,A Good Year, American Gangster, 3:10 to Yuma, and State of Play.And he is still an attractive, sexy actor. Next Crowe post please use a current photo, you know how to do that,right?

Jan 24 12 - 10:17pm

I truly feel this list is lacking without:
John Malkovich/Valmont