"He's a Hard Body With a Soft Center"

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 18 2009 2:44 PM

"He's a Hard Body With a Soft Center"

As connoisseurs of beefcake surely know, People has revealed its choice for 2009's Sexiest Man Alive. Johnny Depp , senior editor Kate Coyne explained on CBS' Early Show , has reached an "iconic status in terms of sexiness." "He was sexy ten years ago, he'll be sexy ten years from now," she continued. "He appeals to multiple generations of women." And there's more: "He's a guy's guy, kind of a bad boy, he's a respected artist and actor. You know, he's got a little bit of everything."

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Josh Levin Josh Levin

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

People named its first Sexiest Man Alive in 1985: hunky Australian Mel Gibson . ("[T]he world is hungry for heroes, and no one knows it better than this unwilling Adonis.") For at least the last decade, the mag's editors have hit the talk-show circuit to explain their selection process. No matter whether it's Brad or George, Pierce or Matt, the People PR reps always get the same question: What makes him the sexiest? Herewith, a selection of the best answers:

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2008, Hugh Jackman: "If you have ever seen Hugh without his shirt on, that is all the answer you need. This guy has one of the hottest bodies in Hollywood. But we also point out that he`s a hard body with a soft center. He's incredibly romantic and loyal and passionate. He has that down-to-earth Aussie vibe. And when you mix the ruggedness with the romance, it's a pretty irresistible combination."—Galina Espinoza, Showbiz Tonight

2007, Matt Damon: "He is a family man. He's so in love with his wife and his children. He's absolutely the guy that you just want to take home with you. He's the complete package."—Julie Jordan, Showbiz Tonight

2006, George Clooney: "He's 40. ... [H]e just gets better and better as he goes on, like a fine wine. ... He's gorgeous, first of all. He's elegant, but down to earth. He's very funny, self-deprecating, he's just pretty perfect."—Robin Michelli, The Early Show

2003, Johnny Depp: "He can wear gold teeth and still look good. He's ... really hot. ... He's in love, he has the children. It's a perfect combination."—Julie Jordan, Today

2001, Pierce Brosnan: "The sexiest man alive ... should be a ... fantasy man that you dream about. ... James Bond always saves the day. And that's a good feeling to have right now."—Liz Sporkin, Dateline NBC , explaining how 9/11 changed sexiness forever

2000, Brad Pitt: "Sexy is a quality. It's a twinkle in the eye. It's a regular guy turned up an extra notch."—Liz Sporkin, Dateline NBC

1999, Richard Gere: "He turns women to jelly. ... [He] is 50 years old, and he's better than ever. He has mellowed, and he's settling down now. ... He's expecting a baby with his girlfriend."—Liz Sporkin, Dateline NBC

1998, Harrison Ford: "He's always the hero. And there's something wonderfully ordinary about him. He's sexy in the way that you could see him next to you on the couch."—Susan Toepfer, Dateline NBC