Popular Culture

10 Most Unlikely Male Sex Symbols in Hollywood


It’s nice to know that even those who spent their childhood being beaten about the person with a baseball bat carved from the largest branch of the ugly tree can still make it in Hollywood. If there’s one thing that gets old fast it’s the long list of boring but vaguely attractive jaw-lined fops regularly starring in movies nowadays, so it’s refreshing to note that the actors who seem inexplicably to have made it as ‘sex symbols,’ despite appearing as if they crawled onto set from the local asylum, are clearly the ones with the most interesting personal lives. Long live the uglies. Here we give you our top ten.

10. Jack Nicholson

Proving that possessing a mischievous grin and a hellraiser past is way more of a babe magnet than some pretty boy jaw line and feathered hair, Jack the Man has been the finest purveyor of XX chromosomes since waaaay back when. The rubber-faced icon has had flings with a plethora of hotties, including Playboy cover star Bebe Buell, Mamas & the Papas sexpot Michelle Phillips, and the vastly underrated Anjelica Huston, all the while rocking a receding hairline, gradually porking out, and wrinkling like a champion. Word.

9. Joaquin Phoenix

A member of the frankly grating Phoenix dynasty – and the only one of his siblings not bestowed with a textbook hippie name (he dropped ‘Leaf’ a long time ago) – Joaquin is so fugly that it took growing a beard and long hair and pretending to be crazy to distract from his aesthetic qualities. The grizzly ‘rapper’ has portrayed Johnny Cash alongside the smokin’ Reese Witherspoon, and has been snapped arm in arm with inexplicably hot tweeting girlfriend Christy Bella Joiner. I guess it’s true what they say… women love a nice personality.

8. James Woods

A legend if only for his excellent cameo on The Simpsons back in the day, the star of hit TV show Shark and the epic Once Upon a Time in America is a great actor. Still, thespian abilities can’t kill the fact that Woods is a highly unlikely Hollywood hunk (or at least was in his day).

The screen legend dabbles in poker, video games, antiques and wading apparently, which must be the key to his success… Despite something of a pockmarked kisser, Woods is apparently so undeniably beautiful that he had to sue Blade Runner babe Sean Young for stalking him. It was settled out of court, with Woods ending up paying out $250,000 to his so-called stalker. Go figure.

7. John Malkovich

Malkovich could be one of the most surprising candidates to appear on our list given his seedy science teacher look, but research shows the ladies love a bit of the bald. He came up in a recent UK list of the top 100 male sex symbols of all time, and had Catherine Keener hot for him in the eponymously titled ’99 movie Being John Malkovich. In real life he had a marriage-ending affair with hottest-actress-of-her-day Michelle Pfeiffer, his co-star in steamy period romp Dangerous Liaisons. Clearly then, there’s women out there with a penchant for graying horse-faced chrome domes, as John has proven.

6. John Travolta

People are always talking about pudgy Scientologist John Travolta as if he were God’s gift to women. Granted, he played a convincing enough heartthrob in Grease (if not a teenager), but has he ever really been truly attractive in any other movie? Perhaps we’re being too mean.

The guy may look like a potato with a degenerative disease, or one of the Dinosaurs, but that doesn’t stop him from being a legend courtesy of some of his edgier roles and a genuine, if somewhat inconsistent, ability to act. Two words: Pulp and Fiction. Three more: candy, bar and soda.

5. Woody Allen

Perhaps it’ll surprise you that we’ve included Woody on the list, but if you look at his on and off-screen history with the ladies – Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow – and take into account an enormous accolade from utter babe Scarlett Johansson, who reputedly dubbed him the sexiest man in Hollywood, he’s a definite candidate for scrawniest and most unlikely Hollywood sex hero of all time. Bananas.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger

How on earth one of the ugliest men in Europe managed to rise to become Governor of California via the role of ultimate Hollywood hard man super-hunk is beyond us. But somehow he did it.

A walking sack of offal, Arnie has been wooing the ladies and impressing the dudes for nigh on three decades, appearing in pretty much every film you ever loved as a kid. A true inspiration for those of us who are aesthetically challenged, Arnie has achieved such status despite having a face like a startled lady part with googly eyes. And what’s more he plans on returning to Hollywood once more, for another turn at wowing us all. On a zimmer frame, presumably.

3. Sylvester Stallone

Sly Stallone is the meat-headed portrayer of the kind of movie heroes that don’t wash their hands after using the toilet; the kind that have an itchy trigger finger and mercifully little dialogue to trouble their petite little brains with. Yes, Stallone may not strike one as having a particularly high IQ, but he does have brawn. In his day, he had the kind of toned body that would turn everyone’s head, except Arnie’s. Turns out brawn is his only virtue, however, as his soiled visage is the facial embodiment of an uncomfortable crap, in zero gravity. Botox injections seem to have roughed him up worse than an army of Ivan Dragos.

2. Nicolas Cage

If Nicolas Cage weren’t so perplexingly critically acclaimed and so damned rich we’d feel sorry for him. After all, the tax evading ‘heartthrob’ has arguably zero acting ability, an annoying voice, a bald patch slowly overtaking his scalp, and a face that scares dogs. Women seem to love him though, no doubt citing his flexed muscles in the dag nut of a movie, Con Air. Cage has been married three times, including a short soiree with Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie. What were they thinking? Dollars, no doubt.

1. Mickey Rourke

Those of you out there who look at Mickey and tentatively ask ‘what the hell happened?’ are to be forgiven. After pretty boy beginnings, ex-boxer Rourke’s current facial state is akin to that of Sly Stallone’s mom after Jackie’s kisser has been crammed through a combustion engine head first.

With surgery rendering Mickey’s visage more plastic than a she-male’s penis, it’s an absolute miracle (for him) that directors keep offering him roles. And the ladies keep coming. Apparently.

Conan O’Brien Dartmouth Commencement Speaker 2011

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