From Henry Cavill to Christian Bale to Bradley Cooper, Hollywood’s leading men are usually thought of as having, amongst several other things (full heads of hair, strong jawlines), imposing statures. From Chris Hemsworth to, well, Liam Hemsworth, they usually do. But some of them do not, with only their photogenic charisma making up for their unimpressive height.
The average American man is 5’9” ½ (so adorable that they count the fraction – they’re like the none-too-bright Mayella Ewell who, in To Kill A Mockingbird, tells the judge she’s nineteen and a half.) That being the case, we’ve decided to cap shortness at 5’8” – none of the men on this list exceed that height. Even though it’s below average, we feel as though at 5’9” a person is no longer properly short and has achieved an unremarkable height for the next 5 inches.
We’ve also carefully chosen men from film, television, and music who are not supporting characters. These are men who appear on the poster, on the bus stop ad, on the CD cover. Although we have expanded the scope of “leading man” beyond the cinematic, it still refers to their centrality.
10 Josh Hutcherson – 5’7”
Josh Hutcherson has been around for a long time. He was in the 2005 Will Ferrell movie Kicking & Screaming and then in the 2007 kids movie Bridge to Terabithia. He’s had roles in some of the biggest blockbusters of the past few years, the movie adaptions of Suzanne Collins’ series The Hunger Games. The only thing he hasn’t had? His growth spurt.
Next to his Hunger Games co-stars, the strapping Hemsworth and the statuesque Jennifer Lawrence, he looks like a pipsqueak, and if you pay close attention, in the Hunger Games movies, when it cuts back in forth between him and Lawrence, the background sinks to give the illusion of them being eye to eye.
9 Bruno Mars – 5’5”
You might have thought, from the cockiness he evinces in “Uptown Funk,” that Bruno Mars was a smooth 6’2” with size 14 feet. Unfortunately for this Hawaiian import, born Peter Gene Hernandez, he’s actually only 5’5”.
As he once said to the NY Daily News: “In my mind, I’m 6’3”. But I’m 5’5”. Do me a favor: say I’m 5’6”.” We don’t blame Bruno Mars for wanting to be a little bit taller. Most rockstars seem long and lanky. But if we could sell some inches for an inch of his success, we most certainly would not hesitate.
8 James McAvoy – 5’7”
James McAvoy’s first proper mainstream role was in The Chronicles of Narnia as Mr. Tumnus, the impish faun. After it occurred to people that he was too good-looking to be playing a mythological half-breed, he was offered the part of Robbie Turner in Atonement alongside Kiera Knightley.
With the release of Wanted, he became an approved action star, and went on to play in the X-Men franchise. At 1.70 m, he’s just about 5’7”, and, at that, the same exact height as his Atonement co-star.
7 Zac Efron – 5’7”
Zac Efron first hit the scene in the Disney Channel original movie High School Musical. People fell in love with his twinkling blue eyes and his charming singing voice. From there, he was progressively incorporated into more and more central roles, from 17 Again to Charlie St. Cloud to Neighbors. Now, at 5'7", he is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, with his role in a movie almost guaranteeing its success - except for, since every certainty requires an exception, We Are Your Friends, which had one of the worst openings in Hollywood history.
6 Usher – 5’7”
Confessions, Usher’s fourth album, sold an amazing amount of copies. It went diamond in the U.S., meaning it sold more than ten million copies, and worldwide, it has sold over fifteen million. His perfect pitch, renown sense of rhythm, and six-pack abs have made him universally beloved, and “Yeah!” still gets the club bump-bumpin’ eleven years after its original release.
There is no denying that Usher is one of the industry leaders, which has been recognized by his tenure as one of the judges on The Voice this season, entering, thereby, the same pantheon as Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Shakira. And all that at 5’7”.
5 Kit Harington – 5’7”
People assume that just because he’s the brooding Jon Snow and the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, that Kit Harington must be 6’3” and 220 pounds. But at 5’7”, he’s just a little guy. Or is he actually something else?
Jezebel recently did some investigating, and there were several possibilities of how tall Kit Harington might be, ranging from 5’5” to 5’10” – we figured we’d split the difference but not give him the benefit of the doubt ‘cuz that’s less interesting…
4 Mark Wahlberg – 5’8”
Whether you remember him as Marky Mark in a Calvin Klein ad (superior to Justin Bieber’s) or as a meat-headed Bostonian in Ted, you’ve definitely seen Mark Wahlberg in some sort of central position. He’s shown he can do dramatic in his supporting role in The Departed and funny in his role in The Other Guys. But can he do tall?
Apparently not – he says he’s 5’10”, but less self-interested estimates have him at 5’8”. He’s said that the camera makes him look taller, and that a girlfriend once told him that “you look about 6'2" on screen.”
3 Kanye West – 5’7”
Oh, Kanye West, he “[is] a God,” (according to his song “I Am A God”) and also, apparently, the next American president, according to his VMA speech. Kanye West is known for having a big ole ego, otherwise known as a Napoleonic complex. This disproven psychological theory stipulates that a short person, man or woman, will compensate for their height by displaying domineering and aggressive social behavior. Although Kanye West definitely does that, it’s probably not because he’s short and probably because he’s just really a lot more competent than most.
2 Tom Hardy – 5’7”
Tom Hardy is a bona fide Hollywood hunk: he was the star of the recent blockbuster Mad Max, he played the latest iconic Batman villain, he portrayed Heathcliffe in a tv mini-series of Wuthering Heights.
Apparently, his height never stopped him from achieving anything (much like Napoleon!) At 5’7”, Tom Hardy is not quite as short as some of the other people on this list, but he’s still smaller than his arrogant persona would lead viewers to believe.
1 Jesse Eisenberg – 5’6”
Jesse Eisenberg’s breakout role was in Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network, about how Mark Zuckerberg (also 5’6”) created Facebook. Eisenberg went on to star in Now You See Me, as snarky magic virtuoso J. Daniel Atlas, then in America Ultra with Kristen Stewart.
Thanks to his atypical good looks, he’s been embraced by the movie industry. He shaved his head completely bald to play Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman flick. He is without a doubt a leading man, the poster of The Social Network simply a picture of his face with script laid over top, at only 5’6”.