Yes – we all do the research, it’s not all about hot men in costumes. It’s about the story, and the history and the politics and the socio….
Oh who am I kidding? Sometimes, you know? It’s just all about the men in hot, historical costumes.
Here are a few of our favourites, (in no particular order) men who look good (and know it) in a weskit and breeches – damp or otherwise. Some actors seem to specialise more than others in the historical film genre, and frankly – who can blame ’em? Pictures under the cut to save people’s dial-up from collapsing. You’ll need to click on the thumbnails to see the bigger pictures too.
1. Colin Firth. The man who gets a lot of the population weak at the knees. The story goes, in that famous scene from Pride & Prejudice, Andrew Davies directed Firth to imagine he was getting an erection when he saw Lizzy in that damp scene. I’ve never seen the attraction (other than in Another Country) but go nuts, enjoy!
Notable appearances: Pride & Prejudice, Another Country, The Importance of Being Ernest, Valmont, Shakespeare in Love, Blackadder, Girl with a pearl earring. Upcoming: Dorien Grey (Lord Henry Wotten)
2. Sean Bean. Although known and lusted loved for his role as a blond Yorkshire-sounding Richard Sharpe when the character was in fact dark-haired and from London, we simply didn’t care as he battled his way up the ranks: “I can give you four shots a minute sargeant Harper” – ripping his shirt off at any available opportunity and looking great in tight green trousers. However he’d done a sterling job a few years earlier as the nasty Lovelace in Clarissa, beautifully wigged and powdered and had a good grasp on his sword, too. Although Bean does do contemporary films, he does tend to love the costume dramas – here’s hoping he continues.
Notable appearances:Caravaggio, Clarrisa, Lorna Doone, Sharpe, Black Beauty, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Anna Karenina, Henry VIII, Troy, Crusoe. Upcoming: More Sharpe, Black Death, A Woman of No Importance, Comes Like Shadows (Macbeth), Last Battle Dreamer.
3. Hugh Jackman. Now best known as Wolverine, Jackman was a musical star before he made his debut on TV and film. Uber talented and hot as hell he plays good and bad men with equal flair – probably why he does so well as morally ambiguous anti-hero, Wolverine.
Notable appearances: Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Oklahoma, Kate and Leopold, The Prestige. Upcoming: Australia
4. Rupert Everett. Very much out, devastatingly handsome and able to step into gay or straight roles at will, I’ve personally been in love with Rupert Everett since The Far Pavilions. He seems never to age.
What? WHAT? it’s a skull – that’s a costume!!!
Notable appearances: The Far Pavilions, Another Country, Arthur the King, Dance with a Stranger, The Madness of King George, Shakespeare in Love, Stage Beauty, To Kill a King, An Ideal Husband, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Importance of Being Ernest, Les Liaisons Dangereuse, Stage Beauty, Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Silk Stocking, Quiet Flows the Don.
5. James D’arcy. Young and ridiculously handsome, Mr D’arcy (sorry, couldn’t resist that) started his Macaroni career with a role in Wilde and has never looked back.
Notable appearances. Wilde, Tom Jones, Nicholas Nickleby, Sherlock, Master & Commander, Agatha Christie:Poirot, Ancient Rome, A Battle for Rome, Mansfield Park. Upcoming: Into the Storm
6. Johnny Depp. You can’t really have any hot men list without the inimitable Mr Depp. A character actor in every sense of the word, method to his core he wraps himself around the part and the part around him. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to The Libertine, only to find that for the English release they’d removed the gay kiss. Is it on the DVD does anyone know?
Notable appearances: Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Chocolat, From Hell, Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Neverland, The Libertine, Sweeney Todd. Upcoming: Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland
7. Jamie Bamber. The Lieutenant who spawned a fandom. Would Hornblower really have been the large fandom if it is they hadn’t cast the slightly elfin and vulnerable Jamie Bamber as Archie Kennedy? He was always Horatio’s damsel in distress – a true friend, by his side through thick and thin – carried once, in one unforgettable slashy scene, unconscious through the rain and nursed back to health by his lover friend. He seems to die a lot in his parts, though! He’s swapped one ship for another now as he plays Apollo on the new Battleship Galactica.
Notable appearances: Hornblower, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Poirot, Lady Audley’s Secret, Band of Brothers, Daniel Deronda,
8. Daniel Day Lewis. Another serious method actor, but Lord! does it pay off. Luminous as Hawkeye in Mohecans, unmissable as Christy Brown in My Left Foot and terrifying in Gangs of New York. Whatever he plays, he plays 100 percent and becomes the costume and the part. He doesn’t do many films, but what he does, is remembered.
Notable appearances: Ghandi, The Bounty, Room with a View, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, My Left Foot, Last of the Mohicans, The Age of Innocence, The Crucible, Gangs of New York, There will be Blood
9. Michael Fassbender Woefully underused and under appreciated he was gorgeous as Azazeal in Hex – which wasn’t a costume drama, but in which he played a fallen angel. He’s due to play Heathcliffe soon, which I shall certainly be looking forward to.
Notable appearances. Band of Brothers, Angel, Gunpowder Treason and Plot, A Bear called Winnie, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking, 300, The Devil’s Whore, Upcoming: Inglorious Bastards, Wuthering Heights.
10. Rufus Sewell. With eyes to die for, Sewell has more costumes in his portfolio, pro rata, than just about anyone else on the list.
Notable appearances: John Adams, Amazing Grace, The Illusionist, Tristan + Isolde, The Taming of the Shrew, The Legend of Zorro, Charles II,: The Power & the Passion, Helen of Troy, Knight’s Tale,
Arabian Nights. Hamlet … and many many many more….
11. Charlton Heston. This is a purely personal choice. My mother used to drag me to all the Sword and Sandal Epics when I was a kid, and I thought it was because they were “educational.” It wasn’t until I was old enough to appreciate a nicely turned thigh in a very short toga that I realised just why I’d seen more Heston films than my friends…
From IMDB: According to Gore Vidal, as recounted in The Celluloid Closet (1995) one of the script elements he was brought in to re-write was the relationship between Messalah and Ben-Hur. Director _William Wyler_ was concerned that two men who had been close friends as youths would not simply hate one another as a result of disagreeing over politics. Thus, Vidal devised a thinly veiled subtext suggesting the Messalah and Ben-Hur had been lovers as teenagers, and their fighting was a result of Ben-Hur spurning Messalah. Wyler was initially hesitant to implement the subtext, but agreed on the conditions that no direct reference ever be made to the characters’ sexuality in the script, that Vidal personally discuss the idea with Stephen Boyd, and not mention the subtext to Charlton Heston who, Wyler feared, would panic at the idea. After Vidal admitted to adding the homosexual subtext in public, Heston denied the claim, going so far as to suggest Vidal had little input into the final script, and his lack of screen credit was a result of his being fired for trying to add gay innuendo. Vidal rebutted by citing passages from Heston’s 1978 autobiography, where the actor admitted that Vidal had authored much of the final shooting script.
Notable appearances: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Hamlet, Ruby Gentry, El Cid -and far too many others to mention!
12. Tony Curtis
Known for much more than his costume work, Tony Curtis nevertheless made a few very notable performances in sword and sandal epics such as Spartacus – performing in one of the most explictly homosexual scenes ever on screen in those days – and firing slashy vibes at Kirk Douglas in The Vikings. Now admitting that he swung both ways in Hollywood, and who can blame him, he was certainly one of the most beautiful and androgynous actors around.
Notable appearances: Spartacus, The Vikings, Houdini, Taras Bulba, Monty Carlo or Bust.
13. Hornblower – the series. We had so many votes for the actors involved in this that I had to include the whole lot.
There are many other men in costumes – Jason Isaacs, Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh – We’d really like to hear of your favourites, too. (with links please!)
Well I hope you enjoyed this – and here are some links to some videos that you will certainly like.