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This year's Sexiest Man Alive inspires superlatives from some of the world's most sought-after leading ladies. "He's the most beautiful man who ever walked the earth," says Naomi Watts, who starred with Law, 31, in I Heart Huckabees, one of the actor's six films this year. "His warmth is what makes him sexy, and it radiates through his eyes," says his Cold Mountain costar Nicole Kidman.
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He's smooth as silk and hard as rock, able to sing a steamy, slow jam and get clubs pounding to the hits off his 7 million-selling CD, Confessions. The rumor mill has him dating model Naomi Campbell, but, he insists, at 7 a.m. it's just him and his trainer in his Atlanta home. "How you look dictates a lot. Image is very important," admits Usher, who snagged four American Music Awards last week.
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Whether swaggering about as an unwashed swashbuckler (in Pirates of the Caribbean) or sweetly dabbling in romance as a dapper Scottish author (in Finding Neverland), PEOPLE's Sexiest Man of 2003 is the gentlest of rule breakers at 41: a Hollywood idol living at a safe remove in France, with a classically handsome face made less perfect by a mustache, glasses or an old hat. He hasn't fooled anyone.
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With his role as sexy geek Seth Cohen on FOX's hit The O.C., Brody, 24, attracts throngs of teenagers. "Girls freak out over him," says the show's co-executive producer Stephanie Savage of Brody, who is dating his onscreen love interest Rachel Bilson. Next up: After costarring with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 2005's Mr. and Mrs. Smith, he'll romance Meg Ryan for In the Land of Women.
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Kiss him – he's Irish. Then give him some credit: He may love his pint, may play the lad, but as an actor he has the drive of Alexander the Great. Only it's hearts that fall before him, not nations.
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"He's a little rascal," says Christina Applegate of her 32-year-old Surviving Christmas costar, PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive in 2002. "It's charming because you don't know what he's going to do." His current offscreen leading lady, Jennifer Garner, told PEOPLE in 2002, after the pair filmed Daredevil together: "He's your basic tall, dark and handsome. He's it. You want him to save you. I can't imagine anyone the world would rather see swoop in and save the day than Ben."
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"He has a good heart, he's compassionate and has a great sense of humor," girlfriend Kate Bosworth says of Lord of the Rings star Bloom, 27, appearing next in Kingdom of Heaven with Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons.
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"Braiding my daughters' hair is probably the most impressive thing I've done," says the 40-year-old father of two. Next up for Cheadle: Ocean's Twelve, The Assassination of Richard Nixon and Hotel Rwanda, which is predicted to land him a top-slot Oscar nomination, all opening in December.
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He starred in the greatest story ever told and the most controversial movie ever made, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, in which he was brutally flogged, kicked and tortured on the road to crucifixion. "Everyone was thinking it was going to be a bust. I felt redeemed," says Caviezel, 36.
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You probably remember him as Bobby Simone on NYPD Blue, and now the 49-year-old is back on the small screen as The West Wing's smoldering Texas congressman Matthew Santos, after performing Shakespeare in New York's Central Park and shooting Star Wars: Episode III. "Being back onstage reminded me why I became an actor," says Smits. "It's kind of helped my aura in a lot of ways."
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Why we'd like to see Desperate Housewives' mysterious plumber move into our neighborhood: He can fix things. "Luckily I do all of my own home improvement and renovations," says the 41-year-old married father of one. Before he began acting at 28, he was an ad salesman in Nashville. "He is just quiet and unassuming, with something really solid at the core and very deep," says costar Marcia Cross.
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"Matt could be that guy who lives next door. He's strong and broad but also has soft eyes," says Serena Williams of the 34-year-old star. As for what's behind those eyes, and his famously broad grin: "He's not spoiled," says Bourne Supremacy producer Paul Sandberg. "He's just a good guy, and everyone likes him." After Ocean's Twelve, look for Damon in the thriller Syriana with George Clooney.
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Divine Firth is 44, already coupled, has three delicious sons. But so bloody what? Even he's come round to admitting he's not so starchy as the chap he plays in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. "I'm not so disciplined as Darcy, and he is mortified at emotional demonstrations," says Firth. "I'm not that quiet."
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Just what is it about the quietly sexy Gyllenhaal, 23? "Everyone had crushes on him – wardrobe, makeup, everybody," while filming 2002's Moonlight Mile, says costar Aleksia Landeau. "He's not like those actors who are like, 'Look at me!' He has a poetic soul. He lets people come to him." Adds Mile star Susan Sarandon: "He's gorgeous, he's smart – and he's thoughtful." Next up for the single L.A. native: Proof, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, due in December.
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All the other Friends are gone, headed off on whatever big projects their fame and clout allow, and the one left in the primetime spotlight once crowded with Chandler and Monica and the rest is Joey. Dumb, lovable Joey – who you wouldn't think could carry a book on his head, let alone a sitcom on his back. But we're betting on LeBlanc, 37, whose openly handsome face allows him to play stupid without looking like a fool.
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PEOPLE's only two-time Sexiest Man (in 1995 and 2000) played Achilles (in Troy), and even his heel was gorgeous. Pitt, who turns 41 on Dec. 18, will heat up the big screen next in Ocean's Twelve. "He's not at all self-involved," says Helena Bonham Carter, who costarred with Pitt in 1999's Fight Club. "He's just a kind and easy and chivalrous gentleman. I know it sounds cliche, but what makes him really attractive is internal – his humor and caring and curiosity."
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