The actress says Eli Wallach is "my very own Sexiest Man Alive"

By Natasha Stoynoff
Updated November 10, 2008 02:30 PM
Cory Schwartz/Getty

Never mind that Leo guy. When it comes to hot costars, Kate Winslet prefers a more mature man.

“Eli Wallach is my very own Sexiest Man Alive!” Winslet gushed Sunday night at a gala honoring her friend and fellow actor Wallach, 92.

“The truth is,” she told guests at Tavern on the Green in New York, which included Wallach and his longtime wife, actress Anne Jackson, “Annie, if I had been around 60 years ago, you would have had some tough competition!”

Winslet, 33, attended the 80th anniversary gala dinner for the famed New York acting school, The Neighborhood Playhouse, to give an award to former student Wallach – who auditioned for the school in 1938 and is known for starring in such classics as The Misfits, The Magnificent Seven, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

“But one of my favorites,” Winslet admitted, “is The Holiday!” in which they costarred together in 2006.

That same year, the actress joked, “I was absolutely thrilled to read that in 2006 Eli Wallach was named PEOPLE Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive!”

So why does the actress find the elderly star so fetching?

“He’s always smiling, always chatting, always concentrating, and always telling stories. My favorite story is one that Eli shared with me about dancing on screen with Marilyn Monroe,” said Winslet. “I made him tell me that story again and again and again.”

And, she points out, he’s got more stamina than most younger guys.

“He could go take after take after take …” she says. On set, “there were days, I must confess, when I’d worry about him getting tired. But not Eli. Oh, no, no, no. I’d say to him, ‘Eli, please, would you go home now … We’ve been here for 20 hours and it’s nearly midnight and you’ve done your close up!’ But he’d look at me, almost offended, and say, ‘Oh no I’m not going home. Not when I’m playing with you!’ ”

Also attending the reunion dinner were former Playhouse students Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Law & Order: Special Victim Unit‘s Chris Meloni, who attended a summer session at the school when he was 23.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘They are slowly and intentionally driving me crazy!'” said Meloni, of the school’s “repetition” acting exercise made famous by acting coach Sanford Meisner. “But I went with it. Being crazy is okay. Don’t fight crazy. You have to be a little crazy to be an actor.”

Who’s your Favorite Star Under 35? and the People’s Choice Awards are counting your votes! Click here to vote now!