Kate Hogan and Aili Nahas
November 14, 2017 10:00 AM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the 2017 Sexiest Man Alive will be revealed today, Tuesday, Nov. 14! Ahead of the big moment, we’re counting down with a handful of hot Hollywood stars who earned spots in the pages of the issue.

The Men of This Is Us are everywhere this year — and no one seems to mind. Milo Ventimiglia, 40, Sterling K. Brown, 41, and Justin Hartley, 40, are as hot off-screen as they are on, though all three swear it didn’t used to be that way.

Amanda Marsalis

“I was all over the place [in high school],” Ventimiglia (below as a kid) tells PEOPLE. “I was senior class president but I was also the captain of the wrestling team, but I also did drama and fundraising.” Despite that, “I like to call myself quiet. I’m definitely not shy … [but] I didn’t need to be noticed.”

Courtesy Milo Ventimiglia

Brown (below), for his part, “was kind of all that,” he says. “I was a three-year varsity letterman in football. I did theater. I was student council president. I didn’t sleep at all.”

Courtesy Sterling K. Brown

His freshman year, he appeared in his school’s production of Godspell, and “I was bitten by the bug,” he shares. “I didn’t know if I was going to like it or not — I was trying to do extracurricular activities and expand my horizons. But my best friend and I stood up on stage and felt this absolute high. We took our bow and we said, ‘We’ve got to keep doing this.’ ”

His suave on-screen brother, newlywed Hartley, “had more confidence than I probably should have in high school,” he says. “But I do remember feeling like I wish I could physically mature a little faster, fill out. In college it started to happen a little bit more and my confidence started to grow — then I got out to L.A. and that got squashed immediately.”

Courtesy Justin Hartley

Just like his character, Hartley says he has been judged for his looks, “and I’m guilty of it, too,” he admits. “But there are people who won’t give you the time of day, or think ‘He’s too this,’ or ‘He’s too that’ or I’m a certain type because I’m blond.”

We say all three stars are just right.

Check out yesterday’s sexy man of the day, Armie Hammer. And come back to PEOPLE on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 14, to find out who’s been crowned 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive!

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