10 Movie Stars Who Are Sexier in Period Pieces Than Real Life

"Let's do it with the corset on."

by Kate Hakala

Ben Affleck's new film, Argo, takes place in the 1970s, and we simply can't tear our eyes away from Affleck's majestic '70s shag haircut and beard. It's not really that we don't love Affleck, it's just that... we wish he would dress like that all time. So we started thinking about other stars we like better in their period garb — people who might come off as average schlubs in the present, yet who gain an irresistible allure when you put them in a sleeveless jerkin. Forthwith:

1. Ben Affleck (ArgoPearl HarborShakespeare in LoveDazed and Confused)

Ben Affleck is a good-looking man. But in roles where he leaves behind his well-kempt, tailored look for long-haired guile, he truly shines. Sure, he can play a dapper Air Force lieutenant, but Affleck can also incite lust as a vaguely fey Ned Alleyn or a shaggy retro CIA agent. That's range. Leave the wig on, Ben. Forever.


2. Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Shakespeare in Love)

Colin Firth often plays middle-aged, physically- and psychologically-handicapped men dealing with painful emotional obstacles — from chronic stammering to the sudden, crippling loss of their gay lovers. But somehow, those men are immeasurably appealing solely by virtue of appearing in the past. The fifty-two-year-old Firth troops back down from over-the-hill via roles like King George VI in The King's Speech and A Single Man’s George Falconer. Sporting a wide cravat or sleek Buddy Holly frames, Colin Firth would rest easy in our arms, even if we might pass him by on the street today.


3. Orlando Bloom (The Three Musketeers, Kingdom of Heaven, Troy, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-∞)

Bloom remains limp and unlikable in virtually anything set in contemporary times (Elizabethtown), so we're in favor of his his choice to take roles predominantly in period films. Whether he's dressed as the buccaneering Will Turner or the buckinghamming Duke of Buckingham, we never tire of seeing the newest period garb filmmakers have found to cloak Bloom's symmetrical features. Bonus points for making even atrocious and period-appropriate goatees and pencil mustaches look good.


4. Jeremy Irons (Man in the Iron Mask, The Borgias, The Merchant of Venice, M. Butterfly)

We don’t know if it’s the silken timbre of Jeremy Irons’ voice or his dark leer that lends itself so well to period films. But inhabiting characters like wooly musketeer Aramis or the titular protagonist in The Merchant of Venice is second nature for the venerably-jawed Irons. Even his awards-show garb is suspiciously anachronistic. Guys, Jeremy Irons might actually be centuries old. 

5. Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Aviator, Romeo + Juliet, Gangs of New York)

Though hardly relegated to period films, Leonardo DiCaprio sure has slapped his name on quite a few — and they’re usually poignant portrayals of men struggling against terrible odds. After watching him grapple with such lofty themes from the past, we find it hard to sustain our level of lust for him in the present. Much as we loved his twitchy turn in The Departed, our collective bosoms heaved a little harder watching him in wide-lapeled '40s garb in Shutter Island


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