Well, his baby blues didn't hurt, but it also helped that Mel Gibson starred that year (for the third time) as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, earning his first million-dollar salary. Not only was Mel the very first sexiest man alive, but he was also the first to be Australian — we're suckers for sexy accents!
Long before Mark Harmon was Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, he was the hot doc of medical drama St. Elsewhere. His womanizing plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Caldwell, left the show after nearly three seasons when he was one of the first major TV characters to contract HIV through unprotected sex. Mark continued to have a good year in 1986, starring in two TV movies, Prince of Bel Air and The Deliberate Stranger, as well as the film Let's Get Harry.
Playing a hot TV doctor is one way to win; another way is to play a hot TV lawyer. Harry Hamlin may have starred in the movie Laguna Heat in 1987, but where his chiseled good looks really came in handy was on L.A. Law, where he played Michael Kuzak for the first five seasons of the TV show.
If you're an athletic, single Kennedy with a career in law, you probably have a shot at the sexiest title. When "John-John" was named sexiest man alive in 1988, he was all of the above, and the political royalty is still the only nonactor to ever win.
When Sean Connery won in 1989, he became the first winner to have played James Bond on the big screen, a role that would prove to lend itself to the sexiest title. Although it had been years since Sean donned his signature spy suit, he proved that even at 59 he still had it — becoming the oldest person to win (and the first one hailing from Scotland).
For Tom Cruise, earning the sexiest title was about being a part of an all-star couple and starring in award-winning movies. In 1990, he starred in Days of Thunder, where his onscreen love interest happened to be new wife Nicole Kidman (whom he married that same year). He also earned several accolades that year — including a Golden Globe, People's Choice Award, and Academy Award nomination — for his role as a real-life paralyzed Vietnam War veteran in 1989's Born on the Fourth of July.
Action-star roles seem to be a recurring theme among winners, like Patrick Swayze's role alongside Keanu Reeves in Point Break, out the same year he was named sexiest man alive. But we all know what really sealed his fate was playing a steamy spirit in 1990's Ghost, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Well, it was either that or his infamous Chippendales SNL sketch with Chris Farley!
Nick Nolte probably won with his mustache alone, but he also starred that year in Lorenzo's Oil. It helped that he had one of his most successful films the year prior, The Prince of Tides with Barbra Streisand, which earned him his first Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award.
In 1993, People mixed things up by doing sexiest couple instead of sexiest man. Movie star Richard Gere and his supermodel wife at the time, Cindy Crawford, won the title the same year he starred in Mr. Jones and Sommersby and she was the host of MTV's House of Style. Unfortunately, by the end of the year, Richard and Cindy had split. They did make an attractive couple!
Brad Pitt won his first of two sexiest awards in 1995 while he was dating Gwyneth Paltrow. (That all-star-couple element seems to be a ticket into the sexy club.) That year he starred in Twelve Monkeys and Se7en, but he was clearly in the running after his sexy roles the previous year in Legends of the Fall and Interview With the Vampire.
Denzel Washington was the first, and so far only, African American winner when he was named sexiest man alive in 1996. That year he starred in Courage Under Fire and The Preacher's Wife, but he'd already wowed us all with his powerful roles in Malcolm X and Philadelphia. He's been one of the least controversial picks, as part of what makes the award-winning actor so sexy is how grounded he is — he's been married to the same woman since 1983, the mother of their four children — and that he prefers to keep onscreen romance PG.
George won his first of two sexiest awards thanks to his steamy doctor role on ER from 1994 to 1999, plus a little thing we like to call the Batman effect (not to mention his sense of humor). It wasn't a coincidence that George won the title the same year he starred as the caped crusader in Batman & Robin. Paging Dr. Clooney!
It was many years after Harrison Ford made the ladies swoon as Indiana Jones when he finally earned his sexiest man alive accolade. The year he won, he starred in Six Days Seven Nights, which earned him a People's Choice Award. And even at 56 (making him the second-oldest winner), Harrison could still win hearts with the best of them. After all, he would later wed Calista Flockhart, who's more than 20 years his junior.
It was a good year for Richard Gere when he became the first two-time sexiest winner and had his handprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1999. And while the Pretty Woman heartthrob would star with Julia Roberts again in Runaway Bride that year, he'd probably consider his charity work and meeting with the Dalai Lama among his highlights. A major supporter of AIDS awareness and global peace initiatives, Richard also created the Gere Foundation India Trust in 1999 to establish humanitarian programs in India. We think that's sexy!
I'm telling you, it's all about who you're paired up with. Brad Pitt became the first two-time solo sexiest man alive winner in 2000, the same year he married Jennifer Aniston. Having starred in Fight Club the year prior and Snatch the year he won, Brad would go on to be in Ocean's Eleven — a movie that seems to be a good-luck charm for the sexiest men alive.
After Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan became the second winner to have played Bond, James Bond, and the first Irish sexiest man alive, in 2001. That year he starred in The Tailor of Panama, but he really heated things up in his four Bond films from 1995 to 2002. It was also a lucky year in love for Pierce, who married an American journalist and author in 2001 and has been with her ever since.
Sure, Ben had shown us that he had romantic leading-man material in Pearl Harbor prior to snagging the sexiest title in 2002. And sure, he had a busy year starring in The Third Wheel, The Sum of All Fears, and Changing Lanes. But we all know what put him over the edge that year: Ben started dating Jennifer Lopez in 2002 while filming Gigli, and they got engaged the same year. Too bad the highly publicized and short-lived relationship would go down in breakup — and nickname — history.
The first of two times Johnny Depp would earn sexiest man alive was in 2003, the year he starred in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and a little film we like to call Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Yep, we got our first glimpse of the sexiest pirate to sail the seven seas — Jack Sparrow — that year, but with the fifth movie from the franchise currently in the works, it thankfully wasn't the last.
Give a polite round of applause to Jude Law, the first Englishman to be dubbed sexiest man alive. Jude had a very, very busy year in 2004 when he won, starring in six movies, including the very steamy Closer and Alfie. Those movies alone gave him the title, in our opinion.
Before he'd strip it all off in Magic Mike, Matthew McConaughey and his ripped abs made us swoon in romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. But it wasn't until 2005 that Matt won the sexiest title. Thanks to his movie Sahara, that year the actor took to the wilderness, even sailing down the Amazon River and trekking to Mali. Maybe his adventurous spirit earned him the No. 1 spot?
George nabbed his second win in 2006 while he was in between Ocean's movies — the franchise that feeds the sexiest man alive pool. That year he starred in The Good German and won an Oscar for his role in Syriana. As one of the hottest philanthropists in Hollywood, George was heavily involved in advocating a resolution of the Darfur conflict that year. He even spoke at a 2006 Save Darfur rally in Washington DC and spent time in Chad and Sudan with his father to make a TV documentary about Darfur's refugees.
Matt Damon had a lot to smile about in 2007, the year he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was crowned sexiest man alive. Matt was a part of two hefty film franchises at the time — that year he starred in both The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean's Thirteen. In 2007, Forbes even named Matt the most bankable star of the year, with an average of $29 at the box office for every dollar he earned for his last three films.
Hugh Jackman became the second Australian to be named sexiest man alive in 2008, because we know that accent helps get your foot in the sexy door! He'd also shown his ferociously hot side as Wolverine in the X-Men movies, and that year he starred in Australia. On the good-works side, Hugh narrated a documentary about global warming that year as well.
It was a "congratulations, eh!" to Ryan Reynolds, who became the first Canadian sexiest man alive in 2010. That year he starred in Buried and had numerous award show nominations for his previous year's roles in The Proposal and X-Men Origins: Wolverine — more than one of which had to do with kissing his costar Sandra Bullock. Like many of the other past winners, Ryan was a part of an all-star couple at the time, having recently married Scarlett Johansson. Sadly, though, they broke things off by the end of that year.
Baby blues, check. Leading-man material, check. Speaks another language fluently, check. Bradley Cooper had all that and more when he took the sexiest man alive title in 2011. We saw what a babe Brad is in The Hangover, and then he showed us how he could carry a film, as the leading actor in Limitless. He was also awarded the international man of the year accolade by GQ UK that year. But our favorite Bradley moment from 2011 would have to be the interview where he spoke fluent French. Ooh la la!
We know the boy's got moves, the bod, the sense of humor, and the gorgeous wife. And as of 2012, he's got the title. Channing first danced his way into our dreams with his sexy role in 2006's Step Up, where he met wife Jenna Dewan (the couple is so cute; Channing even hides love notes around their house). In 2012, Channing really showed us what he's got — from leading-man material to sexy-stripper material — in Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, The Vow, and 10 Years.
The 34-year-old lead singer of Maroon 5 and winning coach on The Voice was crowned 2013's sexiest man alive. He's the first musician to earn the title and only the second nonactor after John F. Kennedy Jr. Oh, and he's got that whole smokin'-hot-shirtless thing down.
Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth has been named People magazine's sexiest man alive for 2014, and we have plenty of undeniable evidence that he deserves this title. The husband to Elsa Pataky and father to three is a superhero stud who starred this year in Thor 2: The Dark World and is currently filming In the Heart of the Sea with Ron Howard. Be still, our blue-eyes-loving hearts!