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Ones to watch

December 29, 2002

by Lisa Grainger
Smouldering, quirky, charismatic, modest - and sometimes even single - the latest exponents of hot male acting talent appear to have it all

Age: 36
Vital statistics: the French Brad Pitt is a small, smouldering mass of sensuality. French, Spanish, English and “poco Italiano” spout forth from his full lips. Armani has invited him to have as many clothes as he likes. Oh, and he drives a yellow convertible 1969 E-type Jag with black leather seats. Capricorn.
Best known for:dating Mira Sorvino; setting hearts aflutter in The Horseman on the Roof; and luring Diane Lane into adultery in Unfaithful.
Fact file: the son of a mechanic and a secretary, raised in a working-class suburb of Paris, Martinez held down dull jobs such as jeans salesman until his best friend auditioned for the International Conservatory, the prestigious Parisian drama school. He tried it too.
Forthcoming attractions: the crime thriller S.W.A.T. (with Samuel L Jackson) should ensure the Gallic superstar goes stellar in Hollywood. Plus a rumoured six-figure sum for being the male face of Giorgio Armani, 2003.
What sums him up? He thinks he’s a normal guy. No, really. “I’m sorry about it, but I am not this smart, charming person. And I find it very hard to play naked. I’m just an old-fashioned and traditional guy.” So what’s with the half-undressed modelling career, then? “Mr Armani asked me, and I like him. Besides, it’s easy — I just have to stand there. And I get money to buy the things I like.” Like what? “Because I’m so immature — such a child — I still like stupid things like cars and motorcycles. My dream is to have a wooden vintage sailboat. At the moment, though, my love is my car. She is so beautiful.”
Availability? Zero. If his first love is cars, then his second is Sorvino, who he has been dating for three years. The good news? a) He has a younger brother, Vincent, also an actor; b) He says that, while he believes in fidelity, “life always throws you temptations, however strong you are”.


Age: 23
Vital statistics: a 6ft 1in, surf-tousled, blond, brown-eyed Aussie hunk, with what Mel Gibson calls “incredible presence, yet no fing pretensions”. He says he’s just “a beach bum who likes to surf and play the guitar”. And, presumably, act. Aries.
Best known for: the clash of shining armour with his mop of blond hair in A Knight’s Tale; being Mel Gibson’s son in The Patriot; acting seriously dark in Monster’s Ball.
Fact file: named after Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, the 16-year-old wannabe persuaded his best friend to drive him across the outback to Sydney in search of fame and fortune. His first role, as a gay cyclist in the Australian television series Sweat, was a far cry from his macho lead in A Knight’s Tale. “The armour was seriously hot. And heavy. And sweaty,” he says, grimacing. “It was also itchy. I spent most of the time rubbing myself up against the nearest tree.”
Forthcoming attractions: the starring role, originally offered to Jude Law, in The Four Feathers (a war drama with Kate Hudson), The Sin Eater (horror flick) and The Kelly Gang (Aussie western with Orlando Bloom).
What sums him up? His reluctance to do soaps until he was virtually starving, and his loathing of Los Angeles. “I really miss Australia,” he sighs. “The lifestyle, the sun, the surf, Vegemite, the sense of humour. In a way, the loss of my old life is like handling death in your life. You have to mourn for what’s died, then learn to find a comfortable way of living without it.”
Availability? After breaking up an engagement with Hollywood’s Heather Graham (nine years his senior) in 2001, he fell for fellow Aussie Naomi Watts on The Kelly Gang set. “I’m romantic,” he explains. “I often dream away in fantasies about the girl I’m in love with. I’m pretty much a dreamer.”


Age: 22
Vital statistics: Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal (pronounced Jill-en-hal) is a blue-eyed, 5ft 9in, quirky Californian cutie, combining chiselled jaw and beauty spot with the charmingly coy manners all mothers love. Sagittarius.
Best known for: his white-hot performance as a schizophrenic teenager in Donnie Darko; his nerdy but sexy 17-year-old in Lovely & Amazing; and for winning the outstanding newcomer prize in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his role as a Manhattanite wastrel in This Is Our Youth.
Fact file: serious A-list pedigree. His dad, Stephen, directed Waterland; his mum, Naomi Foner, was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar for Running on Empty, and his sister Maggie played his on-screen sibling in Donnie Darko. His godmother is Jamie Lee Curtis and his godfather is Paul Newman. He was taught by Uma Thurman’s father at university, but dropped out to join the family trade. “I guess if my dad were a plumber, I’d be a plumber too.” Yeah, right.
Forthcoming attractions: Moonlight Mile with Dustin Hoffman; as Jennifer Aniston’s lover in The Good Girl; with Dennis Quaid in the $100m global-warming action movie The Day After Tomorrow.
What sums him up? About being in bed with Aniston: “If you knew how embarrassing it is doing a sex scene, you wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. But, then, it wasn’t that hard turning on the passion, as you can imagine. She said, ‘Just go there, don’t be afraid. Whatever you need to do, do it.’”
Availability? “No girlfriend, unfortunately. That seems like the hardest job of all.” Apply to http://www.jakegyllenhaal.com/.


Age: 27
Vital statistics: describes himself as a “wee thing”. Small but perfectly formed, with greenish-blue eyes, floppy hair and the pale skin only found in men from the Outer Hebrides (where he was born). Leo.
Best known for: being the cutest thing on television this year when he stepped into Omar Sharif’s shoes in ITV’s Doctor Zhivago.
Fact file: he regrets an interview he gave about his Hebridean childhood and troubled teens because “the people on the Isle of Lewis are beautiful and I felt very guilty. They’ve done nothing but give to me. Although,” he admits, “alcohol is a bit of a problem. It’s a Celtic thing, really. They have a comfort in melancholy.” His childhood was spent fishing and walking the hills and beaches with his aunties, uncles and cousins.
Forthcoming attractions: none. He’s taking time out to play his guitar. And no, that doesn’t make him any less desirable.
What sums him up? His costar Keira Knightley says he has a “truly poetic soul”. He is vocal about his antidrugs stance, likes nothing more than “a storm and a wild night”, never travels without his guitar and composes his own songs. Until he is wealthy enough to own a croft in Mull or Lewis, he’s content receiving emergency supplies of Irn-Bru and socks through the post from his grandma.
Availability? After a four-year relationship with the actress Samantha Morton, he’s “looking for a soulmate” to go away with “me, my guitar and my fiddle”. The queue’s back here, ladies.


Age: 25
Vital statistics: 5ft 11in, fresh-faced, British heart-throb-in-waiting. Dark eyes, strong sculptured jaw, high cheekbones and unruly dark hair. Capricorn.
Best known for: making pixie ears look sexy as the blond elf Legolas Greenleaf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and its sequel, The Two Towers.
Fact file: Canterbury lad whose ambition to be a luvvie started when he found out that Superman was actually an actor in tights. Rather than stepping straight into a red cape, Bloom trod the hard road to stardom. Falling three storeys from a roof terrace in 1999 and breaking his back, doctors said he would spend his life in a wheelchair. But 12 days — and an operation — later, he was walking.
Forthcoming attractions: the comedy “mockumentary” The Calcium Kid, in which he plays a milkman called Jimmy who mistakenly ends up fighting for a world boxing title; The Kelly Gang (with Heath Ledger); and a swashbuckling Disney flick, The Pirates of the Caribbean (opposite Johnny Depp).
What sums him up? “When you’re in front of a 150ft drop with a piece of cord tied to your ankles, it’s scary. But you confront that fear and get over it and it empowers you.”
Availability? Says he’s single, but rumoured to be seeing Christina Ricci. Despite saying he is “married to my career”, he was once engaged to Jemma Kidd.