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“Himbo,” according to Dictionary.com, is a slang word, usually derogatory, that refers to an attractive but empty-headed man—a male “bimbo.” While we aren’t making any claims about these actors’ intelligence, they certainly had some empty-headed roles in box-office hits before disappearing into the Hollywood abyss. The Daily Beast takes a look at once-budding action stars now seen mostly in discount DVD bins and on cable TV.
Taylor Kitsch, alas, is on the verge of himbodom. Coming off a stellar run as hunky football player Tim Riggins on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, his potential star power seemed almost unlimited. But his first big play at Hollywood leading man material, after a supporting X-Men role, struck out hard. Kitsch played the buff, tanned, loin-cloth-sporting lead in the Disney sci-fi adventure flick John Carter, all elements that should have cemented his leading man status. But the movie tanked, losing Disney almost $200 million. Kitsch’s second strike, the big budget board game-turned-action flick Battleship, costarring Liam Neeson and pop star Rihanna, also flopped. With big-name stars, extensive CGI, ships blowing up, and Brooklyn Decker’s bosom, Battleship should have had all the ingredients for Hollywood summer success, but it hit a low $25.5 million domestic bow. We’re hoping Savages, the drug-dealer flick Kitsch has cued up for this summer, doesn’t seal his place on our list.
Alex Pettyfer has had some unfortunate casting in his short-lived career and is well on his way to failed himbodom. Only 22, Pettyfer has a handful of starring roles under his belt, working alongside Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Vanessa Hudgens, among others. But despite his Abercrombie good looks and devilish grin, each of his teen-oriented flicks has failed to perform at the box office. Luckily, Pettyfer seems to be moving away from his melodramatic leading roles in films such as Beastly, In Time, and I Am Number Four, and doing all we really want him to—taking off his clothes. Acting alongside Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and other assorted Hollywood hotties, Pettyfer will play a male stripper in Magic Mike, out June 29.
Ryan Phillippe, the man we once rooted for when he married Reese Witherspoon, is one of many ’90s heartthrobs who never reached his full potential. I Know What You Did Last Summer and the unforgettable Cruel Intentions make Phillippe one of the most sought-after leading men of the ’90s. But duds like the SNL flick MacGruber have dimmed his star potential.
James Marsden is the leading man who never was. With all the trimmings of an ideal Hollywood hero, he just never quite landed the right roles. Always portraying the sweet and caring gentleman, Marsden has pigeonholed himself away from the man’s man roles that define a Hollywood James Bond or Indiana Jones. Even as the protagonist in the creepy, unneeded remake Straw Dogs, starring alongside Kate Bosworth, he falls behind the sweaty chest and raw testosterone of costar Alexander Skarsgard. But we still believe in Marsden’s potential and hope this summer’s Bachelorette, costarring Kirsten Dunst, will launch him into newfound heartthrob status.
Brandon Routh appeared out of nowhere and took on one of the most iconic roles in cinematic history, playing Clark Kent in 2006’s Superman Returns. Before his superhero debut, Routh had short-lived appearances on TV’s One Life to Live and Will & Grace. Sure, he had the chiseled jaw and sleek black locks to portray the man of steel, but his acting chops may have been under par. The film was OK—outside of a suspenseful scene involving a sinking ship, the 154-minute flick was a tedious retelling of the classic story framed in drab tones of gray and blue, with equally unexciting performances by Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey. Post-superhero roles have included the unsuccessful comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno and a role on NBC’s Chuck.
Freddie Prinze Jr
Freddie Prinze Jr. tops the list as the king (no pun intended) of has-been ’90s heartthrobs. After a role in I Know What You Did Last Summer—costarring Sarah Michelle Gellar, whom he later married—Prinze starred in a long line of successful ’90s romcoms, including She’s All That, Down to You, Boys and Girls, and Head Over Heels. But when he strayed from his trademark genre, taking roles in the kid-friendly Scooby Doo and animated series Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time (not a joke), he left his fleeting sex appeal at the door.
First earning the leading man title in the epic war film Pearl Harbor, Hartnett impressed (heterosexual female) audiences with his acting chops and swoon-worthy looks. In 2001, he starred in Black Hawk Down, another military flick, and it had seemed he found his niche. But 2002’s 40 Days and 40 Nights showed audiences he had a comedic, cruder side, playing a man who vows to go 40 days without sex). After this awkward transition, Hartnett fell off the moviegoers’ radar, taking roles in unsuccessful or little-seen Hollywood flicks.
Ulrich first got noticed in the 1996 cult-classic slasher flick Scream, playing Billy, the murderous boyfriend. He seemed destined for Hollywood greatness but ended up in a slew of costarring roles in mediocre films before landing a regular role as Jake Green on the post-terrorist attack drama show Jericho. He kept it going for two years, then had a short-lived run on Law and Order: LA, fumbling and slipping on the should-have-been golden career that should have been his. Currently he’s a recurring guest voice actor on Robot Chicken, a stop-motion animated series on Adult Swim.
ONTD: Who do YOU think is a Hollywood 'Himbo' or is destined to be
edit: omg James Marsden fans are deep in the streets.