Paul Newman & Matthew McConaughey
It’s understandable that Matthew McConaughey would name his mixed-breed dog Miss Hud. Like Paul Newman, 72, who played the irresistible rogue in 1963’s Hud, the 28-year-old star with the ice-blue eyes inspires sensual flashes through everyday gestures. “He’s a character actor in a leading man’s body,” McConaughey’s A Time to Kill costar Sandra Bullock told Rolling Stone. And the newcomer treasures the advice his hero Newman once gave him: “You have to take your work very seriously, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.” If McConaughey keeps that in mind, one day he too may have his own signature salad dressing.
Al Pacino & Johnny Depp
The costars of Donnie Brasco should come with a “hazardous materials” warning. Projecting affecting angst and simmering danger, Pacino, 57, and Depp, 34, make you offers you don’t want to refuse. Their parallels run deep. Both actors are high school dropouts from broken homes. They also share a tendency to take career risks. After he was the Godfather, Pacino played a gay bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon; Depp was a cross-dresser in Ed Wood. Pacino is now appearing as Satan in Devil’s Advocate, while Depp portrays a drug-and-alcohol-fueled journalist in the forthcoming Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Whether trashing hotel rooms (Depp, ’94) or being busted for firearms possession (Pacino, ’61), these guys make allure a noir experience.
Cary Grant & Rupert Everett
“All day, all night, Gary Grant,” went Allan Sherman’s ’60s pop parody. “That’s all I hear from my wife, is Cary Grant. What can he do that I can’t?” It wasn’t what, but how. For more than three decades. Grant was the very soul of sophistication, wit and elegance—a combination that made him a seemingly irreplaceable icon. Indeed, when he retired from film in 1966, it felt as if grace had gone forever from romantic comedy. Until last summer, that is, when charismatic fellow Brit Rupert Everett, 38, took up the torch and transformed the Julia Roberts film My Best Friend’s Wedding into a top hat and tails romp.
Offscreen the Englishmen also share similarities. As Grant, who died in 1986, did for Faberge, Everett promotes a fragrance for Yves Saint Laurent. For both, sexuality has been an issue. Rumors persist that Grant was bisexual in an age when public knowledge of the fact would have killed his career. Everett is openly gay and unconcerned about his ability to beguile. “People say [being gay is] a turnoff for female fans,” he says. “But it’s always men who say that.” You can almost hear Grant’s clipped accent.
Burt Reynolds & Cuba Gooding Jr.
When it’s fourth down and long yardage, send in the Most Valuable Players. For five glorious seasons (1978-82), former Florida State University football player Burt Reynolds, now 61, was America’s box office champion. His sly innuendo and mischievous manner kept women, along with men, coming back to such madcap macho adventures as Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannon-ball Run. He became Cosmopolitan‘s first male centerfold in 1972—chomping on a cigar and covered, coyly, by his arm. Rookie of the Year Cuba Gooding Jr., 29, also excels at broken-field running. His over-the-top exuberance as a flamboyant NFL player in Jerry Maguire drew romantic cheers from the stands. And his Oscar acceptance speech set a new record for postgame wackiness. “I want to work with the ‘A’ players,” Gooding told The New York Times. “I’m in the same frame of mind they’re in.” And even better shape.
Michael Landon & Scott Wolf
Talk about inauspicious beginnings. Michael Landon broke out of the pack in 1957’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf; Scott Wolf made his debut in ’93 with Teenage Bonnie and Klepto Clyde. While both of these New Jersey-raised heartthrobs quickly moved beyond B-movie notoriety, they never lost one quality that kept women tuning in: blushing, boyish charm.
By the time Landon had wrapped up 14 years as the youthful and sexy Little Joe Cartwright on TV’s phenomenal hit Bonanza, he was a ripe old 37. Wolf has made his young mark for four seasons as troubled teenage orphan Bailey Salinger on Fox’s family drama Party of Five, despite the fact that he turned 29 last June. The age disparity doesn’t bother Wolf. “If I didn’t play younger characters,” he told ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, “I wouldn’t be working.” Not necessarily. For his part, Landon, who died in 1991, went on to play Pa on another venerable family show. Little House on the Prairie.
Mick Jagger & Gavin Rossdale
Some guys just ooze sex appeal. Rossdale, 30, lead singer of the British band Bush, could have nicked some pointers from Master Mick, 54. First, be elusive. Rossdale doesn’t say much onstage or off, only occasionally raising those smoky eyes to defend himself against charges that he’s too pretty or to deliver an update on his relationship with No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani (still on, thanks). Then, cop an attitude and refine it with a look. If Seattle is your scene, do the earnest alternahunk thing—uncombed hair, rumpled clothes, an air of ennui—to the same pitch-perfect degree with which Mick still flippantly carries off his outrageously cheeky, post-Carnaby Street chic. Finally, take a wry approach to the effect your apparently effortless sensuality has on women. After all, it’s only rock and roll, but they like it.
Errol Flynn & Antonio Banderas
“I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun,” agile Errol Flynn said near the end of his long screen career. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Spanish conqueror Antonio Banderas, 37, should be able to say the same one day. In the ’30s and ’40s, in films like The Adventures of Don Juan and Captain Blood, the athletically handsome Flynn took filmgoers’ hearts hostage as he dueled in the rigging or delivered a sizzling kiss. These days, Banderas slays ’em with sawed-off shotguns, wild black locks and a feverish stare. To cement his reputation as the current king of swashbuckling, Evita’s passionate rebel goes in for swordplay himself in next year’s Mask of Zorro.
Clark Gable & Tom Cruise
In the ’30s they called him the King of Hollywood. Clark Gable was his era’s brightest star, and when in Gone With the Wind, he famously declared, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” every female moviegoer wanted to follow him out that door. Like Gable, who died in 1960, Tom Cruise, 35, is his generation’s top box office draw. Both matinee monarchs also married screen queens: Gable & Lombard, Cruise & Kidman. They are, too, men’s men who can go lite (Cruise kidded in Risky Business; Gable quipped in Happened One Night) and play the flawed hero (Cruise’s flailing agent in Jerry Maguire; Gable’s broken, alcoholic cowboy of The Misfits). Their most endearing quality, though, is humility. In his MGM dressing room. Gable hung mementos of his struggling-actor days. As for Cruise, pal Rob Reiner told ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, “He forgets he’s a star. He just goes along like a normal person.”
Marvin Gaye & Maxwell
Ooohhh, baby. When Marvin Gaye released the smoothly rhythmic, erotically charged Let’s Get It On in 1973, women were ready to do just that. But after the fatal shooting of Gaye by his father in 1984, the Lover Man groove remained empty—until Maxwell came along. With his first effort. Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite—an album-length tale of a steamy love affair—the 24-year-old newcomer in Superfly suits has been catapulted to the status of superlover. Maxwell, who grew up in the rough East New York section of Brooklyn, admitted to Interview that he is flattered by comparisons with Gaye, who was reared on the mean streets of Washington. But, he added, “I have a lot of living and loving to do and a lot of music to make before I am even half of what he represented musically.” Yeah? He’d best be gettin’ it on, then.
Albert Finney & Ewan McGregor
“On the first day of shooting,” Ewan McGregor told TIME magazine of last year’s Emma, “I was riding horses and wearing a top hat. Three weeks before [in Trainspotting] I’d been lying on a floor with a skinned head and syringes all around.” If you go for the changelings—actors who can smoothly switch between heroin addict and devilish rake—it’s hard to beat the 26-year-old, gray-eyed Scottish actor. His wide range recalls that of another British chameleon. Albert Finney, 61, won hearts as an angry young workingman in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning before heading back to the 18th century to enjoy a sensual feast in the racy Tom Jones. McGregor is soon to extend his scope into the galaxy: He’ll portray the youthful Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas’s prequel to the Star Wars series. As he once told The Irish Times, “I would get terribly bored if I was playing the same character all the time.”
David McCallum & David Duchovny
If brain power is as seductive as biceps, this pair of government agents is a diploma or two ahead of the competition. As brooding cold warrior Ilya Kuryakin of the ’60s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., British actor David McCallum, now 64, achieved teen idol status. Lurking beneath Ilya’s blue-gray eyes: the smarts of a guy who had graduated from University College London before going on to the Royal Academies of Music and Drama. The X-Files‘ sardonic FBI agent Fox Mulder, 37, a Princeton grad who came within a thesis of a Yale Ph.D., causes palpitations today. His young fans even have an Internet groupie forum called “The David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade.” Although he is a rationalist, Duchovny understands his paranormal appeal. “People don’t want to get in bed with science because it’s cold,’ he recently told USA Today. “They prefer religion, myth, drama.” An off-center smile helps too.
Robert Mitchum & Keanu Reeves
Too bad the term “slacker” wasn’t around decades ago. With the heavy-lidded sensuality and seductive nonchalance that charmed women in movies like River of No Return, Robert Mitchum would have led the pack. Mitchum, who died last July, foreshadowed the cool detachment of Keanu Reeves, 33, who plays a driven lawyer in The Devil’s Advocate. Take their attitudes toward their craft. “Training to be an actor,” Mitchum once said, “is like going to school to learn to be tall.” The Speed star slows to a crawl explaining his passion for performing. “I don’t know what I’m saying,” Reeves said to PEOPLE in 1995. “I don’t know anything, man.” His Johnny Mnemonic costar Dina Meyer agrees. “You can’t figure him out,” she told us. “You want to say, ‘What’s happening in there?’ ” Reeves will never tell.
Beach Boys & Hanson
The world hasn’t seemed this sun-drenched and carefree since the Wilson brothers and Co. headed out on a surfin’ safari in their little deuce coupe. Two-thirds of the Hanson trio aren’t even old enough for learner’s permits, but from their home in landlocked Tulsa, guitarist Isaac, 17, keyboardist Taylor, 14, and drummer Zac, 12, have tapped into the wave of good vibrations and genetically synchronized adorability that crested 35 years ago with the Beach Boys. This was the endless summer of Hanson’s 6 million-selling debut album Middle of Nowhere and its catchy No. 1 single “MMMBop.” Teen girls screamed so loud that the home-schooled, devout Christian lads (the eldest of six siblings) had to wear earplugs onstage. “I think everybody’s tired of being sad,” Zac sagely told USA Today. “There’s still alternative music, but some people want to listen to music that isn’t so ‘I hate life.’ ” Bring on the fun, fun, fun.
Harrison Ford & Will Smith
There are billions and billions of stars, but these two space voyagers burn hotter than those they speed past. As arrogant, good-natured star warrior Han Solo, Harrison Ford, 55, battled the evil empire and took moviegoers hostage with his clean-cut looks and knowing grin. He later went into action as daredevil Indiana Jones and patriotic CIA agent Jack Ryan. Today’s brashest Boy Scout, Will Smith, 29, gives outer space some ’90s ‘tude, whether he’s going to “kick E.T.’s ass” in Independence Day or chase aliens as a man in black. Ford has veered into different orbits—a comic turn in Working Girl, a lawyer with a brain injury in Regarding Henry. Rapper and former TV sitcom star Smith took a similar flight when he portrayed a gay con man in Six Degrees of Separation. Even when he brags, we can’t take offense. “I’m going for Intergalactic Star,” he kidded in GQ. “Why stop at this puny solar system?”
James Dean & Leonardo DiCaprio
James Dean did it with a hot rod in Rebel Without a Cause, Leonardo DiCaprio with a pistol in the ’96 version of Romeo & Juliet, Whatever the weapon, these two attract cult-like followings through their adolescent alienation and lost-boy vulnerability. They had fertile ground for loner emotions. Both were from broken homes. Dean was raised by relatives and DiCaprio by his mother. And in their first leading roles, both played tormented teens: Dean tangled with tyrannical dad Raymond Massey in East of Eden; DiCaprio battled with Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life. Dean was a famously troubled soul who died in a 1955 car wreck at 24. The more grounded DiCaprio, 23, who next appears in Titanic, is still learning to deal with his heartbreaker status. “These teenage girls have become hysterical, man,” he told Montreal’s The Gazette. “What they do is shocking, climbing over walls and stuff.” That’s just the beginning, Leonardo.
Robert Redford & Brad Pitt
“I’m proud of Brad’s performance,” Robert Redford told ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY after directing Pitt in 1992’s A River Runs Through It. “And I’m proud of myself for getting it from him.” Redford can be excused for sounding like a boastful father. After all, these blond bombers represent two generations of screen idols—-rugged, a little dangerous and drop-dead handsome. Their taciturn charm has helped Redford flourish in the movies for three decades and put Pitt, 33, on the road to bankable durability. Bedford, 60, made his first big cinema splash in 1967 romancing Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park. Pitt gained attention Geena Davis’s lanky lover-thief in Thelma & Louise. Both have taken their awe-inspiring looks into exotic locales: Out of Africa (Redford); Seven Years in Tibet (Pitt). Pitt has said that Redford taught him “grace, as far as just sitting in a chair, and the power of the unspoken word.” But don’t expect ’90s Brad to be too graceful. Asked about his resemblance to Redford, he said, “The only thing I was conscious of was that I grew up watching the guy’s movies.”