For nearly four decades, People magazine has declared one male celebrity the “Sexiest Man Alive” with its annual, highly-anticipated issue. On 7 November, the publication announced the 2023 title holder was none other than Patrick Dempsey.
This year, the announcement was made during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! The talk show host introduced Dempsey as one of the “founding members of the handsome men’s club, going all the way back to 2010” when the actor starred in his breakout role as dreamy neurosurgeon, Derek Shepherd, on Grey’s Anatomy.
When asked how his family reacted to him being named the most desirable man in 2023, the Maine native replied: “They laughed. Quite hard... They were like: ‘No, seriously. Who is it?’”
The beginning of the magazine’s annual issue dates back to 1985, when Mel Gibson became the first celebrity to be named the “Sexiest Man Alive”. Since then, People has continued to pass on the title each year to some of the most handsome and successful men in Hollywood.
2023: Patrick Dempsey
Dempsey has revealed how he reacted to being named “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2023. Speaking to People, he shared that when he first heard the news, he was “completely shocked” but then “started laughing” about the recognition.
“I’ve always been the bridesmaid!” he said, making a reference to his 2008 film, Made of Honour. “I’d completely forgotten about it and never even contemplated being in this position. So my ego is good,” he added, before admitting that “it’s nice to have the recognition” and he hopes to use the platform “for something positive”.
2022: Chris Evans
Last year, Chris Evans took the title of “Sexiest Man Alive”. When given the honour at the time, he poked fun at how it was “tough to be interviewed about” the title.
“It feels like a weird form of humble bragging,” the Captain America star quipped to People. He joked: “Really this will just be a point of bullying. It’s ripe for harassment.”
2021: Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd rose to fame in 1995, when he starred alongside Alicia Silverstone in the hit rom-com, Clueless. Amidst a successful career in Hollywood, the Knocked Up star was finally named “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2021. When given the title at the time, Rudd joked about how his life would be changing “a lot”.
“I’m hoping now that I’ll finally be invited to some of those sexy dinners with [George] Clooney and [Brad] Pitt and [Michael] B Jordan,” he told People. "And I figure I’ll be on a lot more yachts. I’m excited to expand my yachting life. And I’ll probably try to get better at brooding in really soft light. I like to ponder. I think this is going to help me become more inward and mysterious. And I’m looking forward to that.”
2020: Michael B Jordan
Just a few years after he starred in blockbuster films Creed and Black Panther, Michael B Jordan obtained the title of “Sexiest Man Alive”. Speaking to People in 2020, he expressed how receiving the honour was “a cool feeling”.
“You know, everybody always made that joke, like: ‘Mike, this is the one thing you’re probably not going to get.’ But it’s a good club to be a part of,” he said.
2019: John Legend
One year after John Legend achieved EGOT status – winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award – he was named “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2019. According to Legend, who’s been married to model Chrissy Teigen since 2013, he had some mixed feelings about the title.
“I was excited, but I was a little scared at the same time because it’s a lot of pressure. Everyone’s going to be picking me apart to see if I’m sexy enough to hold this title. I’m [also] following Idris Elba, which is not fair and is not nice to me!” he told People, as Elba was given the title the year before.
2018: Idris Elba
Following his rise to fame in the early 2000s drama series, The Wire, Idris Elba received the title from People. However, according to Elba, he was quite surprised to hear that he’d been named the “Sexiest Man Alive”.
“I was like: ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” he told People in 2018. “Looked in the mirror, I checked myself out. I was like: ‘Yeah, you are kind of sexy today.’ But to be honest, it was just a nice feeling. It was a nice surprise - an ego boost for sure.”
2017: Blake Shelton
During his stint as a coach on The Voice, Blake Shelton received the title of “Sexiest Man Alive”. Speaking to People about the honour at the time, he quipped: “Y’all must be running out of people. Like: ‘Wow, we’re down to somebody who is somewhat symmetrical.’”
All jokes aside, he went on to acknowledge that his now-wife, Gwen Stefani, encouraged him to be happy about the title. “She goes: ‘Listen to me, you’re going to regret this for the rest of your life if you don’t take this gift and just live in the moment,’” he recalled.
2016: Dwayne Johnson
After starring in the hit Disney film Moana, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson received the honour of “Sexiest Man Alive” from People. He explained that when he initially learned about the title, he thought it was “awesome” but poked fun at what it meant for his career.
“What went through my mind was just how cool and exciting it is,” the former WWE champ told People at the time. “And then I thought: ‘Wow, we’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle.’ I’m not quite too sure where we go from here. I’ve done it all, this is it.”
2015: David Beckham
Former football star David Beckham was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2015. Speaking to People, he described the title as “a huge honour” that he was “very pleased to accept”.
“I never feel that I’m an attractive, sexy person,” Beckham said. “I mean, I like to wear nice clothes and nice suits and look and feel good, but I don’t ever think of myself that way.”
2014: Chris Hemsworth
Just three years after making his debut as Thor in the Avengers franchise, Chris Hemsworth was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People. However, he said that when he first heard the news, both he and his wife - Elsa Pataky - thought the title was “pretty funny”.
“I think you’ve bought me a couple of weeks of bragging rights around the house,” he told People in 2014. “I can just say to her: ‘Now remember, this is what the people think, so I don’t need to do the dishes anymore, I don’t need to change nappies. I’m above that. I’ve made it now.’”
2013: Adam Levine
Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5, received the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2013. During an interview with People at the time, he expressed how he wasn’t necessarily expecting to be given the name, given his career in the music industry.
“As a musician, you have fantasies that you want to win Grammys, but I didn’t really think that this was on the table,” he said. “I was just amazed and stunned and it almost seemed like they were kidding, but they weren’t, so that’s cool.”
2012: Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum was given the “Sexiest Man Alive” title in 2012, the same year that the first Magic Mike film premiered. During an interview with People in 2012, he poked fun at how he and his then-wife, Jenna Dewan, reacted to the news.
“My first thought was: ‘Y’all are messing with me,’” he recalled. “I told Jenna after we’d been in the bathtub washing our dogs because they’d gotten skunked. She was like: ‘What?’”
“Yeah, she calls me [the Sexiest Man Alive] now,” Tatum said. “And who can blame her?”
2011: Bradley Cooper
The same year that Bradley Cooper appeared in the sequel film to The Hangover franchise, the actor received the honour of “Sexiest Man Alive”. When asked about the title in 2011, he told People that he was grateful for the honour but poked fun at his appearance.
“I think it’s really cool that a guy who doesn’t look like a model can have this [title],” he said. “I think I’m a decent-looking guy. Sometimes I can look great, and other times I look horrifying.”
2010: Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds, known for his roles in Green Lantern and Deadpool, was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2010. Speaking to People, he joked about casually mentioning the title in his everyday conversations.
“The most difficult part is going to be organically working this title into a conversation with random strangers,” said Reynolds, who’s married to fellow actor Blake Lively. “This gives my family entrée into teasing me for the rest of my life.”
2009: Johnny Depp
In 2009, Johnny Depp was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” for the second time. He learned about the news while working with Anne Hathaway on the set of director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film.
2008: Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman received the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” from People in 2008, eight years after he rose to fame as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise.
2007: Matt Damon
Following the release of the third Jason Bourne film, The Bourne Ultimatum, Matt Damon was given the honour of “Sexiest Man Alive”. Speaking to People in 2007, he playfully expressed his gratitude. “You’ve given an ageing suburban dad the ego-boost of a lifetime,” he said.
2006: George Clooney
George Clooney was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” for the second time in 2006, after first receiving the title in 1997. At the time, he joked about how becoming a two-time title holder had little effect on his love life. “I don’t go on that many dates,” he told People.
2005: Matthew McConaughey
Two years after starring in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days alongside Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey received the “Sexiest Man Alive” title. When People interviewed the actor about the honour, McConaughey joked about how the new name was going to affect his career.
“Wait until you see the roles I could take after this,” he quipped. “You’re going to see my gut hanging over, plus 22 [lbs]. It’ll be a whole new kind of sexy!”
2004: Jude Law
Jude Law was given the name of “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2004, the same year that he starred as the romantic lead in the American rom-com, Alfie. Before he received the honour from People, the British actor had appeared in several critically-acclaimed films, including The Talented Mr Ripley.
2003: Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp received his first “Sexiest Man Alive” title in 2003, shortly after starring in the blockbuster Disney movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. As he was given the honour, Depp quipped to People: “Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all!”
2002: Ben Affleck
When named “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2002, Ben Affleck was in the midst of his heavily publicised relationship with his now-wife, Jennifer Lopez. While the pair called off their engagement in 2004, they went on to rekindle their relationship nearly two decades later. The A-listers finally tied the knot in July 2022.
2001: Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2001. Just one year later, he appeared in his fourth and final James Bond film, Die Another Day.
2000: Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt received the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” for the second time in 2000, after he first received it in 1995. At the time, the actor had recently married Jennifer Aniston - making them one of the most beloved couples in Hollywood. However, the pair announced their split in 2005.
1999: Richard Gere
At the age of 50, Richard Gere was named the “Sexist Man Alive”. The title came nearly 10 years after he starred alongside Julia Roberts in the beloved romantic comedy, Pretty Woman.
1998: Harrison Ford
Years after he appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones franchise, Harrison Ford appeared on the cover of People’s 1998 “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. However, according to Ford at the time, he didn’t necessarily think that he should have been given the title.
“Why this sudden outpouring for geezers?” he asked the publication, before adding: “I never feel sexy. I have a distant relationship with the mirror.”
1997: George Clooney
George Clooney first appeared on the “Sexiest Man Alive” cover while starring in the medical drama series, ER, which ran from 1994 to 2009. Clooney portrayed Dr Doug Ross for five seasons, but officially departed the series in 1999.
1996: Denzel Washington
When given the title in 1996, Denzel Washington spoke to People about how he didn’t “take [himself] too seriously”. At the time, the Courage Under Fire star said: “I don’t stop in the mirror and go: ‘Hey, Sexy Man.’”
1995: Brad Pitt
In 1995, Brad Pitt appeared on the cover of People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. At the time, he had recently starred in two hit films, Legends of the Fall and Interview with the Vampire.
1994: Keanu Reeves
Although People didn’t name a celebrity as the “Sexist Man Alive” in 1994, the publication later made a pick for the year. In 2015, People’s editorial director Jess Cagle retroactively gave Keanu Reeves the title for 1994.
1993: Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford
In a shocking twist, People didn’t choose a “Sexiest Man Alive” for 1993. Instead, the magazine chose Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford as the “Sexiest Couple Alive”. The former couple first met in 1988 and had been married for nearly two years at the time. However, they ultimately filed for divorce in 1995.
1992: Nick Nolte
In 1992, Cape Fear star Nick Nolte received the “Sexiest Man Alive” title, with People describing him as “big-lug Adonis with the heart of gold”.
1991: Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze received the honour in 1991, shortly after he starred in two of his hit films, Ghost and Dirty Dancing.
1990: Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise received the honour of “Sexiest Man Alive” People in 1990. Prior to receiving the title, Cruise had already starred in a series of box-office hits - including Top Gun, Risky Business, and All the Right Moves.
1989: Sean Connery
At the age of 59, Sean Connery was named the “Sexiest Man Alive”. The Scottish actor rose to fame as the first person to portray James Bond on film, starring in seven Bond films - including Dr No and Goldfinger - between 1962 and 1983.
1988: John F Kennedy, Jr
In the midst of his career as an attorney, and his heavily-publicised relationship with wife and socialite Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, John F Kennedy Jr received the title of “Sexiest Man Alive”. However, he and Carolyn were killed in a tragic plane crash in 1999, along with his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.
1987: Harry Hamlin
In 1987, Harry Hamlin won the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” after starring in his hit drama show, LA Law. Upon receiving the honour, he quipped to People at the time: “Certainly when I look in the mirror, I don’t get turned on. It’s not something I spend a lot of time considering.”
1986: Mark Harmon
After rising to popularity in the 1980s with his two hit TV shows, St Elsewhere and Moonlighting, Mark Harmon was given the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1986.
1985: Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson was the first actor to receive the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” by People. He was bestowed the honour in 1985, just six years after he starred in Mad Max and its sequel, Mad Max 2.