While Hollywood can be obsessed with discovering the next “It” girl, they can be equally obsessed with finding the next heartthrob. The world may be perplexed about all the graphic nudity in television and film, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fair amount of eye candy for female viewers. From the sought-after popular guy to the mysterious bad boy, there is a little something for everyone when it comes to male actor crushes.
Yet, not all heartthrobs continue on their journey to become the next Brad Pitt. While there are a few Leonardo DiCaprios and Johnny Depps that were able to transition from their teeny bop days into full fledge movie stars, not all of these young hotties have been so lucky. In fact, it’s pretty surprising to see how many promising young actors have quietly slipped into oblivion rather than go on to continue a successful acting career.
Whether it was due to mistakes in poor role choices or just that time wasn’t friendly to them, some of these former hotties have since lost their appeal. Not everyone can land the roles that help propel them into superstar status, and some let their personal lives leak into professional careers. The public seems to have a short attention span when it comes to their favorite actors, and even the slightest deviations can cause a huge disruption in their career trajectory. Check out our list of the 15 former heartthrobs that lost their appeal, and see how Hollywood can turn on even the most promising young actors.
15. Ben Savage
As the younger brother of Fred Savage, there were obviously some pretty high hopes for Ben when he started his acting career. While he was included in some of his brother’s onscreen endeavors, no one really remembers him from the characters he played in Little Monsters or The Wonder Years. Instead, he didn’t become a star in his own right until he portrayed Cory Matthews in Boy Meets World. No one can deny that he started the series as an ultra adorable child actor, but he didn’t exactly fit the mold for a teen heartthrob as the show progressed. With the series lasting seven years and then his character transitioning to the Girl Meets World spin-off, he obviously resonated with fans. Girls everywhere rooted for Cory and Topanga to have their fairytale ending, and therefore considered him an ultra desirable catch. However, age was definitely not a friend to Savage, and is now seen as anything but a heartthrob. From the short curly hair to the receding hairline, Savage isn’t winning any Brad Pitt lookalike competitions anytime in the near future.
14. Rider Strong
When Rider Strong first started out acting at the tender age of just 9-years-old, there was a lot of promise into his budding career. Starring in the stage production of Les Miserables, he transitioned onto the small screen and even starred alongside Julie Andrews. Yet, he didn’t reach heartthrob status until he appeared as Shawn Hunter in the hit series, Boy Meets World. As a 90’s sitcom, Strong has to be forgiven for his grunge style and shaggy hairstyle. Yet, even looking back on him by today’s standards still shows a great deal of appeal. Perhaps it was the bad boy status or maybe it was just that the audience needed a reprieve from his curly-haired counterpart, Ben Savage, but he was definitely a teen idol adored by girls everywhere. After the show ran its course, Strong didn’t have much success transitioning into further TV or film portrayals. While he did appear in the thriller film, Cabin Fever (and its flop sequel Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever), he never regained his status as a heartthrob. Nowadays, he is pursuing a career in writing and directing, and is hoping he has more success behind the lens.
13. Matthew Broderick
Matthew Broderick is a hugely talented actor and singer that has received multiple accolades and awards, including two Tony Awards. However, he is probably best known for his portrayal in the 1986 iconic film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While he may not have been the typical body builder type or had the dreamy baby blues like other film stars, Broderick’s character had a type of swagger that made him instantly appealing. His ability to exude confidence in any given situation was more than just a character trait for the film, but actually leapt offscreen and made girls everywhere swoon over the simple word: Bueller. Although he’s gone on to star in a number of stage and film portrayals, he never had the breakout role that would reach the same Ferris Bueller heartthrob status from his younger years. Nowadays, he seems to be more enthralled over playing the role of father and husband to his beautiful wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. While he may not be the public’s dream man, he certainly seems to be able to keep SJP satisfied.
12. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas had the makings of becoming the next Leonardo DiCaprio when he starred as Randy Taylor on the sitcom, Home Improvement. While men were watching for the power tools and adult humor, little girls everywhere were looking at Thomas with doe eyes. Sometimes there is a strange time between the phase of adorably cute and young dreamboat where teenagers can look a bit awkward, but Thomas didn’t seem to have that phase. His face actually started to thin out from the chubby cheeks with ease, and he even started to develop a structured chin and jawline that made people excited to see what he would look like as a full grown adult. Yet, hopes were quickly dashed as he reverted back to the chubby cheeks look as he aged. Although he landed a few television roles after transitioning from a child actor, none ever compared to his success on Home Improvement. During his guest spots on Last Man Standing, people didn’t even recognize him from his former heartthrob self.
11. Andrew Keegan
Andrew Keegan was first introduced as a young heartthrob during his stint on hit television shows, Party of Five and 7th Heaven. While he definitely cultivated a large female fanbase, things didn’t go as swimmingly when he transitioned onto the big screen. The 90s style fully embraced the overuse of hair gel, but tastes drastically changed within the next decade. Even though Keegan’s chiseled good looks held up well as he aged, his mental stability may not have fared as well. In 2009, Keegan faced physical abuse allegations from his then-girlfriend, and in 2011 Keegan was arrested after a disorderly house party. Yet, things got really interesting in 2015 when he organized a religious group that many characterized as “a cult.” This New Age religious group was raided by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and arrests were made for the illegal selling of kombucha. Kombucha isn’t exactly heroin or cocaine, but regardless, it was enough for there to be arrests. It’s hard to tell what makes him most unappealing, but the whole cult association thing ranks at the top of the list.
10. Ralph Macchio
Although Ralph Macchio has been in a number of feature films, he is probably best known for his role in the Karate Kid series and the 1983 classic, The Outsiders. Back in the 80s, Macchio was seen as the ultra cute Italian heartthrob that had some seriously sexy hair. Although he has appeared on a number of film and television series since peaking in the 80s, age hasn’t been a friend to Macchio. From his stint on Ugly Betty to his brief cameo on HBO’s Entourage, he never truly reached movie star status like in his younger days. The closest that he came to rising star status would have been in his portrayal as Bill Gambini in My Cousin Vinny, but he was definitely overshadowed by Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning performance. Afterwards, Macchio made a brief comeback into the public eye on Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars, but he was ultimately eliminated from the competition. While he still remains a very likable persona, he isn’t exactly having the girls screaming his name or daydreaming about his now-thinning hair.
9. Emilio Estevez
While there was once an argument as to who was the better offspring of Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez or Charlie Sheen, Emilio definitely came out the winner. While he may not have had the hugely successful television career like his brother Charlie, he wins the competition purely because he didn’t indulge in the drugs and prostitution like his brother. Estevez was part of the infamous Brat Pack in the 80s, and was paired alongside other hotties like Sean Penn and Rob Lowe. He is most known for his role in such hit films as The Outsiders and Young Guns, but he officially achieved heartthrob status for his role as the hot jock, Andrew Clark, in The Breakfast Club. Although fans may not have been able to see the resemblance with his father, Martin Sheen, when Estevez was young and built, they can definitely see the resemblance now. Fortunately, Estevez has kept his flowing auburn locks, but he’s also added a few pounds to his once-built frame. Nowadays, he looks like a spitting image of his thin-lipped father, but has some ill-groomed facial hair to try and distract from his now-fuller face.
8. Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin first became introduced to audiences as a soap opera actor on The Doctors, and has had a consistently successful television career ever since. Starring on a number of sitcoms and miniseries, Baldwin is probably most known for his role on the hit show, 30 Rock. He isn’t only thought of as an actor, and is actually considered a comedic actor due to his quick-witted humor. Appearing multiple times on Saturday Night Live and even chose to appear alongside Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Baldwin is considered a multitalented actor that has been able to further his career long after the heartthrob days were put to bed. While his looks haven’t gone completely downhill since his heartthrob days, that doesn’t mean his appeal has stayed at the same level. Having a number of public snafus, the public hasn’t thought of him as an ultra attractive celebrity in quite a long time. From calling his daughter “a little pig” to the homophobic rants on social media, Baldwin is no longer the A-list heartthrob he once was.
7. Judd Nelson
Judd Nelson instantly hit heartthrob status when he starred as the bad boy misfit in the 80s classic, The Breakfast Club. While some girls dreamed over the high school jock, it was Nelson that perfectly portrayed the John Bender character that girls lusted after. Proving that girls love a bad boy, Ally Sheedy’s character was the perfect fit to go with his smoking and rebellious behavior. However, his career never seemed to achieve the same success in during his later film portrayals. Although he starred alongside some of Hollywood’s hottest actors, not even Robert De Niro could help him back to movie star status. As his career started to dwindle, unfortunately, so did his looks. While once known for his flowing brown locks that seemed ever so cool, the hair took on a totally new identity when he was seen at events and on the red carpet. Not only did it look completely unmanageable, but Nelson no longer seemed to care at all about his outward appearance. That definitely hasn’t helped him to achieve more prominent film roles, and it hasn’t helped in improving his status as a heartthrob either.
6. Skeet Ulrich
When Skeet Ulrich was first introduced to audiences through his film portrayals, there were high hopes for this dashing actor compared to a younger Johnny Depp. He definitely had the chiseled looks and dark features like Depp, and even leaned towards the darker roles on the big screen. While he may have played the villain in the first Scream film, audiences could definitely see how Sidney Prescott could fall for him in the first place. He may not have played an actual “villain” in The Craft, but he wasn’t exactly playing the nice guy either. Ulrich perfectly played the infatuated boy toy in the film, and had many female fans wishing they knew a bit of witchcraft themselves. Although there was a time when Skeet Ulrich was on the fast track to superstar status, his career hit a few bumps after a number of flopped films. In the fast-paced entertainment industry, fans can quickly move on to the next big thing, which is basically what happened with Ulrich. While his star was falling, the Zac Efrons and Joseph Gordon-Levitts were quickly climbing the entertainment ladder.
5. Freddie Prinze Jr.
Freddie Prinze Jr. started off his acting career in the 90s in the sitcom, Family Matters, but quickly transitioned to the big screen. He became a huge hit among female fans, especially with his portrayals in hit films like She’s All That and the I Know What You Did Last Summer film series. Coined as the sought-after popular guy, he was perfect for the type of films that had girls swooning over onscreen characters. Yet, a string of film snafus like the Scooby-Doo films didn’t exactly help his cool-guy persona to flourish. In fact, that seemed to be the downhill slide for his film acting career. Turning to television sometimes helps out actors that aren’t making it big on the silver screen, but small parts on lackluster shows weren’t his ticket back to the limelight. While he did have a small part as a guest star on Friends, his male nanny role wasn’t bringing the sexy back. Nowadays, he is seen as just another washed up actor from the 90s, and has lost any swagger he might have once had.
4. Val Kilmer
There aren’t many stars that can boast being in as many blockbuster hit films like Val Kilmer. From starring alongside Tom Cruise in Top Gun to playing Jim Morrison in The Doors, Kilmer was even one of the rare actors that became the iconic Batman character on the big screen. However, he didn’t exactly keep his Batman physique as he aged. In 2010, the public saw some snapshots of Kilmer and were astounded by his weight gain. While there were some that wondered why they hadn’t seen him in film for quite some time, one look at his overweight photos and they quickly understood why. However, Kilmer apparently recognized the need to shed those pounds, and in 2012 he started to chronicle his new health kick via social media. He posted his weight loss progress for all to see, but then people started to wonder if he was actually dieting in a healthy way. Some even described him as looking gaunt since the weight loss looked so extreme. Regardless of how the public can quickly turn against their favorite celebrities, the fact of the matter is that Kilmer can’t seem to reach that magic heartthrob medium that he was when he was the Dark Knight.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
When Arnold Schwarzenegger first started out as a film actor, he may not have received any heartthrob points as Conan the Barbarian from those that aren’t into the whole steroid-riddled look. However, there are those that really went for the body builder type, and he certainly wasn’t lacking in his ability to get the ladies. Starring in hugely popular films like the Predator and the Terminator series, Schwarzenegger was the reigning action film star for a full decade during the height of his popularity. Fans were so enamored with his bulging biceps and chiseled good looks that they were even able to overlook his thick and often difficult to decipher accent. As he aged and transitioned into the political world, he kept some of his appeal since he gained credibility by marrying into the Kennedy family. Yet, all that changed with the utterance of three little words: Mildred the Maid. When it was discovered that Schwarzenegger was not only having an affair with his maid, but also fathered a love-child with her, the public didn’t take too kindly to his cheating ways. This was amplified exponentially when the first pictures of Mildred were released. After seeing what he was willing to throw away a loving woman like Maria Shriver for, he lost any shred of appeal he had left.
2. Andrew McCarthy
As part of the 80s Brat Pack, Andrew McCarthy had the boyish good looks that was perfect for the era. His hair was perfectly wispy, he had kind eyes, and most importantly, he was thrown into roles that made him seem like the perfect man. Starring as the sought-after dreamboat in Pretty in Pink and the eternal good guy in Less Than Zero, even his character in Mannequin was ultra likeable and appealing to female fans. While he’s starred in a number of films since his peak in the 80s, he seems to be forever engrained in the public’s mind through his earlier work. However, those boyish good looks that once drew in throngs of screaming female fan have long since been put to rest. Nowadays, he has lost all the appeal that initially caused fans to see him as physically attractive. Unlike other stars that achieved fame during that same era, McCarthy now looks like a grandpa rather than a former movie star.
1. Mickey Rourke
When Mickey Rourke first started off as an actor, hopes were definitely high for his potential on the silver screen. Not only did the camera seem to love him, but he was immensely talented as an actor. Since his very first film was released in 1979, he had back-to-back films starring alongside some of the hottest women in Hollywood. While each of his films had their very own appeal, it was the 1986 film, 9 ½ Weeks, that was truly his breakout moment as a Hollywood heartthrob. Starring alongside Kim Basinger, Rourke had sex appeal that was insurmountable. Rourke continued to make films all throughout the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and is still considered one of Hollywood’s most talented actors. He has starred in the Sin City film series, the Iron Man film series, and even won an Oscar for his portrayal as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler. While he has definitely maintained his status as a working actor in Hollywood, he lost his heartthrob status when he started his adventures to the plastic surgeon’s office. His new look is almost unrecognizable in comparison to his early days in the business, and it leaves fans wondering why he would have ruined his naturally good looks in the first place.
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