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Home » Actors

The Nerdy Hot 10 List

Submitted by on May 14, 2009 – 12:08 am 67 Comments

Maxim released its annual Hot 100 List today, focusing on women with exceptional beauty and bodacious bods. (House‘s Olivia Wilde got the top spot.)

Looking at some of the names, I thought the chosen women are indeed gorgeous but physical perfection is only one way to judge hotness. Year in and year out, the same people seem to end up on these lists.

So I decided to release my own Nerdy Hot 10 List, with male celebs who are sexy not because of their ripped bodies (though some might have them), but because of something a little imperfect, goofy, or nerdy about them. So here’s my list, in no particular order, and the reasons why these guys made the cut.

1. Colin Firth. Firth is the epitome of the awkward man who always gets tongue-tied around a pretty girl. But that awkwardness is what makes him so endearing, as evidenced by the hilarious scene in Love Actually when he publicly proclaims his love in halting, butchered Portuguese to the object of his affection. And remember those dreadful reindeer sweaters he sported in the Bridget Jones movies? He’s hot for having the courage and good humor to wear them.


2. Hugh Laurie. He often appears slovenly and unshaven on House and behaves like an ass. But then you hear him play piano, sing a funny ditty on a talk show or give a humorous, humble acceptance speech for an award and all is forgiven.


3. Paul Rudd. He’s most famous for doing bawdy comedies as part of the Judd Apatow gang; his blue eyes and boyish charm allow him to get away with all the mischief. But he can also do Shakespeare (I saw him do Twelfth Night in a Lincoln Center production), write scripts, sing, produce and all these hidden talents add up to one sexy guy.


4. Robert Downey Jr. The first time I saw him was in The Pick-Up Artist, where he played a pretty geeky guy trying to hit on Molly Ringwald. What a difference twenty years make. Despite all his legal troubles and drug abuse, he’s somehow managed to salvage his quick wit, intelligence and ultra-sized talent. You may be well aware of his acting prowess but have you ever heard him sing? Forget about it. He’s got a voice that can melt inhibitions.


5. James McAvoy. He may not be the tallest, most muscular or dashing man but oh, is he romantic. Check out those intense blue eyes. When he looks at his leading actresses in movies like Starter for 10 and Atonement, he really looks at them, as if they’re the most exquisite creatures he’s ever seen. And we the audience can almost feel him gazing right through the screen into our own eyes.


6. Jon Hamm. I tried watching one episode of Mad Men and Hamm did nothing for me as Don Draper, though he was certainly groomed and dressed well. Then I saw him on 30 Rock as Tina Fey’s hapless boyfriend and developed a crush immediately. Hamm was ridiculously funny as the guy who was so beautiful, no one would tell him the truth about anything. He played tennis atrociously but thought he was awesome, rode a motorcycle like a drunk but thought he was cool and was clueless about the correct usage of the word “ironic.” I think Fey is a comedy genius and for Hamm to keep pace with her is sizzling hot.


7. James Franco. He’s not that interesting as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies but when he’s goofy, like in Pineapple Express and videos, he gets my sexy stamp. Plus, he gets extra points for being a nerdy academic, with an English degree from UCLA and working towards graduate degrees in creative writing and film at Columbia and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, respectively.

bret mckenzie

8. Bret McKenzie. As half of Flight of the Conchords, he doesn’t have much luck in his career or with the ladies on the show. But he, along with Jemaine Clement, makes me laugh hard with brilliant, kooky songs and their hilarious, clever lyrics. I don’t get starstruck much but if I ever meet him, I’d be completely tongue-tied and that’s a true sign of hotness in my book.


9. Daniel Craig. Yeah, he beefed up for Bond and looks great in a tux but before that, he played a scrappy drug dealer in Layer Cake, a murderer in Infamous and an unsympathetic Ted Hughes in Sylvia. His face isn’t conventionally pretty, with rough features that look like he’s been in a few brawls, but I’ll take him over the typical Calvin Klein model any day.


10. Brad Pitt. I swear he’s not on this list for the obvious reasons because, frankly, I find him rather bland when he plays heroes and pretty boys on screen. But he rocks my socks when he plays crazy like in Twelve Monkeys or a doofus like in Burn After Reading. A funny man who also happens to look like Pitt? Smokin’.

What do you think? Who else should be on the list? To see who’s on my Nerdy Hot 10 List—Female Edition, click here. (UPDATE: Check out my new 2010 Nerdy Hot List here.)

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  • ShelleyP says:

    I love the way you think, PCN! Charisma. In bucketloads. Truckloads, even.

    My particular faves from your list are Colin Firth, Hugh Laurie and Oh My, where did you get that Robert Downey Jr pic? I’m pleased I wasn’t following your lead and reading while stopped in traffic, or I’m sure I’d have stepped on the gas instead of the brake. And the way his tie is a little askew – extra blood pressure points for that.

  • Melissa says:

    Yay! No pretty little boys! Now we just need to get a couple of chubby nerds on the list…

  • EireGo says:

    Okay, I’m too straight to comment, but I will stay that this is a great list. Also, I am probably in the minority of men, but those Maxim layouts are lame. There’s a lot of padding and a ton of airbrushing going on. Never found it sexy. Um, I just read the magazine for the articles. (LOL!)

  • Shelley n says:

    Colin Firth, Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr, Daniel Craig–all totally list-worthy.
    Hugh Laurie, Brad Pitt–eh. they don’t make me drool, but they’re not awful either.
    James McAvoy, Jon Hamm, Bret McKensie–these guys do absolutely not-a-damn-thing! for me. I just don’t get it AT ALL.
    And James Franco? He gets a list all his own! I know, i know! He’s an actor, he was jsut doing his job, but no matter how cute or goofy he is in ANY other role, i can NEVER EVER forgive him for Spiderman 2. You remember the scene, big ol party for the i’m-SO-RICH crowd, Harry’s drunk and pissy, and SLAPS Tobey, er, Peter in the face??? Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. I could kill him right now just THINKING about it!!! grrrrr…
    But aside from THAT… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • popculturenerd says:

      Yes, I know the exact scene! I think Franco makes fun of it in one of his videos (called “Acting with James Franco”) so I think he’s aware of how over the top that was.

      Who would be on your nerdy hot list, Shelley n, since half of mine do nothing for you? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Shelley n says:

        Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar and Johnny Galecki from Big Bang Theory! I LOVE those guys!! (But not the guy who plays Walowitz, ick!)
        Also, Jon Cryer from 2 n a Half Men. GOTTA love Duckie!!

  • ScriptPimp says:

    Glad to see Bret is up there, but what about Jemaine Clement? Where’s the love?

  • READER#9 says:

    Simon Baker should have been mentioned. Those little suits-with-vest numbers he wears on The Mentalist are pretty nerdy.

  • Bailey says:

    James Marsden? Billy Crudup? Clive Owen? Hugh Dancy?

    • popculturenerd says:

      Those guys are just hot, period! They have to be nerdy and/or goofy somehow to be on the list. Now that I think of it, Marsden was pretty goofy in Enchanted.

      You have excellent taste, Bailey.

  • Roberta says:

    Colin Firth is # 1, of course. But I also love the older actors, who were HOT in their heyday…& to me, they still are HOT: Albert Finney; Sean Connery; Donald Sutherland; Patrick Bergin; Tom Berenger; Gabriel Byrne; Hart Bochner; Peter O’Toole; Tommy Lee Jones; Tom Selleck; Alan Alda; Edward J. Olmos; Mark Harmon; David McCallum; David Keith; Joseph Montenga. Their excellent ability to get into a character, masters of their craft, as actors, makes them sexy, alluring, & they STILL rock!!

    • popculturenerd says:

      Hi Roberta,

      I like some of the guys on your list, too! Mark Harmon, Tom Berenger, Gabriel Byrne are still sexy. And what about Dennis Quaid? He’s still got it. But my #1 crush of all time is Gregory Peck. His death crushed me. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anyone like him again.

  • EnduringLove says:

    Like your choices. Love Firth and Laurie. Don’t know that I would have thought of Jon Hamm and Brad Pitt as “nerdy”, but I see your point.
    Thanks for putting McAvoy on the list and for articulating what I think is a large part of his appeal. He rocks my socks! I don’t think he’s nerdy in it, but in Rory O’Shea Was Here/aka Inside I’m Dancing he plays a guy with MD that’s immobilized in a wheel chair and can’t move. And he’s still sexy! Really good movie.

  • cinamingrl says:

    Oh yeah, McAvoy is hot, hotter than most.

  • nikki says:

    very nice list.. i approve of all but brad pitt.
    he is just too conventional looking.
    too well-liked i guess! ahaha..

  • Janet says:

    I think Jude Law should be in it….no??

  • Holly says:

    I think Robert Downey Jr. could be 3rd?! could he not ? becuase he’s kinda hot and still in my oppinion nerdy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Holly says:

    Oh.. I was thinking it was actually in order of hotness and nerdiness!
    So, Colin Firth isn’t actually first?? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Holly says:

    Well. it’s mostly the same as yours apart from a few changes ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Janet says:

    ooh i have another one….justin bartha?

  • Poppy says:

    How is Brad Pitt nerdy?

  • maritza says:

    ohh my god!!! robert downey is son damn gorgeus!!!
    and colin firth too. and hugh laurie oh yeahhh
    they are my favorite actorsss

  • jackie says:

    Anyone that does not understand the appeal of James McAvoy.Go and rent Becoming Jane and come back.I got the dvd without even knowing the actor and now i have a small collection of his work going back to his work in the U.K.

  • jackie says:

    Hi pop culture nerd….I’m a huge fan of British actors but James McAvoy is my favorite.He is in another movie called starter for 10.With atonement,becoming jane,last king of Scotland and penelope,McAvoy has proven that he can be an strong romantic leading man despite not being 6 foot tall.

  • jackie says:

    I have to tell you it’s hard to go anywhere on the internet and not have to debate Twilight (Rob)fans.Let me ask you what do you think of Jason Statham, the action star,i think he is handsome but he’s never on anyone’s list.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I find him slightly annoying because in his early work (i.e. Jet Li’s The One), he was trying too hard to be a tough guy. Either you’ve got it or you don’t, you shouldn’t have to try. Some of his movies are also unwatchable. I detested Crank and can’t believe they made a sequel.

      Don’t read or watch Twilight but found Pattinson adequate enough as Cedric Diggory. He wasn’t given much to do so I don’t have strong feelings about him either way.

  • jackie says:

    I think both Statham &Orlando Bloom got pigeonholed in their choice of movie roles.I also think Shia is falling into the same trap.I am not sure about Zac Efron future either but Hollywood today is about having pretty faces.By the way, you put together a good list.

  • jackie says:

    I found a McAvoy fan,i will be back .And i agree with you about Shia’s appeal but he’s out there.I will share my top guys list(well you shot down one already in Statham)perhaps you would like the others. Good bye.

  • jackie says:

    popculture nerd..Im back with my list of hottest guys most are actors with one athlete.Russell Wong,Gerard Butler,Jude Law,Michael Greyeyes native americanactor),Ioan gruffudd,David Beckham,Henry Cavill( tudors),Ewan Mcgregor. For your consideration,What do you think?

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Russell Wong is really pretty, but he’s rather stiff as an actor, don’t you think? I like Butler, McGregor & Law a lot. Have only seen Ioan Gruffudd in the Fantastic Four movies and they’re terrible though he’s not. I need to see Horatio Hornblower before I can form an opinion of him as an actor. Not into Beckham because massive amounts of tattoos scare me. And I don’t watch The Tudors so I’m not familiar with Cavill’s work but I’ve seen pictures and he sure is handsome.

  • jackie says:

    Russell Wong could not survive the crap roles he got over the years.His best movie for me was Joy Luck Club even in his small part to me he showed some talent.As for Native actor Michael Greyeyes he never stood a chance in Hollywood .His best role was Captured Women,Stolen Hearts.If you google search that movie you will find that women loved it.

    • liz says:

      Michael Greyeyes is a fine native American actor who stays true to his culture. You have to appreciate the Native American culture/life to understand why Hollywood does not understand nor appreciate the true Americans of this country. Natives make big money for the industry and not well respected for their skills and talents. Many thanks to Michael, his work and all native actors.

  • Birte says:

    Dear pop culture nerd, I love your list, thank you. I suggest Ralph Fiennes who can be wonderfully stiff, Jason Schwartzmann and Philipp Seymour Hoffman. I am sure Hoffman could embody hotness if he was given the chance. There is also an East German actor, Ulrich Muehe, who featured in “The Life of Others”. He is very nerdish but his eyes made up for it tenfold.
    Please redefine hotness again and do create a similar women’s list.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Welcome, Birte. I’m aware of the late Ulrich Mรผhe and think he was quite good with his expressive eyes, like you said. And yes, I’ve been working on a list of nerdy hot women so I hope you check back for that.

  • jackie says:

    Pop culture nerd …Do you think James McAvoy have a chance of getting an Oscar nod this year. I do not want to get my hopes up.

  • OME09 says:

    Hugh Grant Should Be On Here ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Birte says:

    I suggest Hugh Dancy again. He was quite nerdy in the Jane Austen Bookclub and also in Confessions of a Shopaholic (about the worst movie I saw because I liked on of the actors). Please publish the female nerdy hot list soon. I’d love to see Olivia Williams and Joan Allen on it. Maybe there should be a list called “women we finally want to see in hot roles”. Toni Colette would be my favourite one for that.

  • Birte says:

    I suggest Hugh Dancy again. He was quite nerdy in the Jane Austen Bookclub and also in Confessions of a Shopaholic (about the worst movie I saw because I liked on of the actors). Please publish the female nerdy hot list soon. I’d love to see Olivia Williams and Joan Allen on it. Maybe there should be a list called “women we finally want to see in hot roles”. Toni Colette would be my favourite.

  • Jessa says:

    Bret McKenzie! Lovely! He doesn’t get nearly enough acclaim for his looks-just sayin’. Franco does it for me too. Great list!

  • Jen Forbus says:

    Well golly, I came over to post my chair story and found this post floating around in the featured section. It’s an older post, but I couldn’t resist. LOVE Colin Firth…love Hugh Laurie. The name I’d definitely need to add would be *sigh* Harry Connick, Jr. And *cough* can R.C. make this list or does acting status need to be on their resumes?

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’m glad you found this post! Had to put Colin up in this section since I like looking at his face.

      Harry Connick Jr. would be a great addition to this list! Love him. As for Crais, he’s top of another list but I won’t tell you the name of it!

  • Kristin says:

    This is one of the greatest lists ever. I love this topic. I’m joining the club a little late, but, well, I couldn’t resist.

    I am so glad someone mentioned _Penelope_; it might not be McAvoy’s nerdiest role, but it’s a sweet movie and he’s adorable in it. It’s an example of what happens when you take a simple, fun movie and put talented people in it (himself, Christina Ricci, etc). Also, check him out in _Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth_ (available on Netflix watch now, at least) as the title character.

    Putting aside some less famous actors with a potential nerd quotient (Peter Wingfield, anyone?), how about Alan Rickman? His range is incredible. From villains in _Die Hard_ and _Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves_, to the tender, quiet Colonel in _Sense and Sensibility_, the deeper-than-he-looks Professor Snape, the comedy (& occasional sadness) of _Galaxy Quest_, and I can’t not include his textured performance from _Blowdry_.

    Have to put a vote in for Topher Grace. Adorably nerdy in _That 70s Show_. His movies have been up and down, but he was often good regardless. I know a lot of people are Tobey Maguire fans, but I would’ve liked to see what he could’ve done as Peter Parker.

    I continue to have mixed feelings about Brad Pitt, but I can go along with your reasoning. I still don’t find him hot, but movies like _Burn After Reading_ make me like him as an actor. Colin Firth, Hugh Laurie, Robert Downey, Jr.–all fantastic. I’m not a big fan of bawdy comedies, but Paul Rudd is adorable.

    There’s so many adorable, goofy, nerdy actors out there: Paul Bettany, Masi Oka, Robert Sean Leonard (overshadowed, perhaps, by Hugh Laurie, he is still adorable yet imperfect), Nathan Fillion, and so on. To classic actors who could be goofy AND sexy, I’d add Cary Grant, Peter O’Toole, and William Powell.

    Thank you for bringing this up and for putting together a great list!

    (p.s. In retrospect this is a really long comment. I don’t often comment online; if this is bad form, I apologize.)

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Hi Kristin,

      Welcome to PCN! Thanks so much for your long and passionate comment. I love when people share their opinions so please, no need to apologize.

      You have some good people on your list. Topher Grace is adorable! Rickman, Bettany, Oka, Leonard, Fillion are all fantastic. I’ve gotten so many great responses to this list that I’ve now decided to make it an annual feature. I’ll release the second list this May, on the first anniversary of this one.

  • Carrie says:

    Clearly, you a genius. Add Richard Armitage, and I can die happy.

  • Kia says:

    Zachary Quinto, anyone?

    He played Spock. It doesn’t get any nerdier then that, and he’s gorgeous.

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