Listen up, Zac Efron: teen heartthrobs are a dime a dozen, but few of them parlay their dreamboat status into a respectable Hollywood career. (Edward Furlong, anyone?) With all due respect to Scott Baio and the two Coreys, here are ten actors who got their start as heartthrobs and managed to stay in the limelight without stooping to reality television — or worse.
10. Paul Rudd
As the guy who gets Cher at the end of Clueless, Rudd’s stint as a teen heartthrob was short but unforgettable. Despite being Cher’s ex-stepbrother, he’s a good match for her: he’s older, cute, smart, and comes to her defense when a colleague calls her shallow. How valiant. Rudd has since moved on to roles that are more comedic than romantic, but, to Clueless fans, he will forever be the thoughtful stud Josh.
9. Rob Lowe
Lowe couldn’t have escaped being a heartthrob even if he’d tried, what with his chiseled good looks and ridiculously blue eyes. His role as Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders set teen hearts blazing, and his foxy saxophone performance in St. Elmo’s Fire is certainly one to remember. That he’s gone on to a covetable career in television, with roles on The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, is only fitting.
Like Rudd, Cusack really has only one bona fide heartthrob
role to his name, but it’s a biggie. His performance as the lovable
Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything… is classic. When he hoisted that
boom box high above his head, his dogged determination set a new romantic
standard for adolescent boys everywhere. Now he’s headlining movies
like 2012 and Hot Tub Time Machine. Not bad.
7. Andrew McCarthy
This Brat Pack member went a long way with his boyish looks and pensive
demeanor. Whether he’s playing an aspiring writer in St. Elmo’s Fire
or a preppy student in Pretty in Pink, something about his quiet
intensity made him an iconic heartthrob for the thinking girl. Though he still acts now and then, he’s retreated from the limelight of
his earlier heyday, hence his low ranking on the list.
6. Christian Slater
With his impish cheekbones and devil-may-care worldview, Slater
was the ultimate bad boy of the eighties. Playing loners, outsiders, and
rebels, he spent a lot of screen time nurturing beefs with societal
norms — which made him irresistibly naughty. His film career isn’t
exactly thriving these days, but that doesn’t erase the ensuing classics
(like True Romance) that pepper his rÃ©sumÃ©, and, with ongoing TV and
voicework, something tells us he’s doing just fine.
Whatever you may think of him now, Cruise inspired many a fan club
in his early years of acting. His pants-off dance off in Risky
Business and his testosterone-fueled turn in Top Gun cemented
his status as a babe magnet. He threw in Cocktail for good
measure, before taking on a streak of heavyweight roles (Rain Man,
Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men) — and the
rest is history.
4. Michael J. Fox
Who didn’t have a thing for Fox at some point or another?
Thanks to his classic good looks and all-around likability, he was the
kind of guy moms loved — even his own mom, in the case of Back to
the Future, in which mama McFly (Lea Thompson) falls for her
time-traveling son. Even when he was covered in fur for Teen Wolf,
he managed to retain his handsome charms — a trick he parlayed into a
solid career well into adulthood.
Dillon used to be the go-to hottie to play the tortured kid with a
heart of gold, and girls ate it up. In The Flamingo Kid, he’s a
working-class teen from Brooklyn providing the eye candy at a swanky
beach resort. In Tex, he’s an orphan struggling to raise his
brother in a small town. Then, of course, there’s The Outsiders,
where he fights tooth and nail to take care of his Greaser boys. Today
he’s an Oscar nominee, but never forget that he started as a stud muffin.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio
He may be Martin Scorsese’s muse these days, but once upon a time DiCaprio was mostly known for his ubiquity on middle-school
lockers. Adoring fans first took notice when he snagged the role of
homeless Luke on Growing Pains, and he didn’t waste any time
landing meaty roles in respectable fare like This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but he kept his female fans appeased with
romantic turns in Romeo + Juliet and (who could forget?) Titanic.
1. Johnny Depp
Those chocolate eyes. That creamy complexion. At age 47, Depp
still qualifies as a heartthrob: even Angelina Jolie’s excited to work
with him. The A-list actor has been making girls swoon since 1987, when
he starred in 21 Jump Street. His turn as a bad boy in Cry-Baby
certainly didn’t detract from his heartthrob status, but, with Edward
Scissorhands and all the movies that followed, Depp quickly proved he wasn’t just a pretty face.