Key hearththrob role: Desperado (1995)
The Spanish actor impressed the arthouse crowd in the 80s through his work with Almodovar, catching the eye of Madonna in particular - his hype grew after a bit in Madonna's documentary Truth Or Dare where she was filmed at a dinner party she'd conspired to meet him at, only to find out he was married. Antonio brushed up on his English and crossed over into the mainstream, but the part that maybe sent the most 90s heart a-fluttering was Desperado. The Robert Rodriguez action also gave us the glory that was 90's Salma Hayek.
Key heartthrob role: Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Okay for a lot of people it was probably way earlier than 93 but I felt like that's when the world beyond America went whaaaat the fuuuuck and spent the rest of that movie going "when's Don Pedro coming back". Denzel imbued the traditionally more comedic character with dignity and pathos, owning the screen. Throughout the 90s he preferred to play up his intellectual, brooding vibe rather than his looks when choosing parts, which just made women hotter for him really.
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
Key heartthrob role: Chungking Express (1994)
Listen if you were in higher education at this time and considered yourself a cineaste, after this movie came out Faye Wong was your Seberg and Tony Leung your Delon. A star in his native Hong Kong, he was keen to work with arthouse up-and-comer Wong Kar-Wai, scoring a miniscule cameo in Days Being Wild and boasting it was his best work so far. It was a match and the director and actor went on to make many brilliant films together, but his lonely, heart-broken cop in Chungking Express had the biggest impacT.
Key heartthrob role: Don Juan DeMarco (1995)
His cut glass cheekbones had gotten him attention since he landed in Hollywood, but sensitive bad boy Johnny wanted to be known for his ART. Still, he deigned to bless us with this shameless bid for heterosexual women's dollars, wherein he played an innocent, yet sexually experienced and available (he services an entire fucking harem in this fucking movie) beauty who is really just searching for True Love and does so with a 50 Shades style mask and a flop Spanish accent. After this film he stayed on people's radar doing mostly interesting arthouse fare before reinventing himself in the 21s century as a kind of (allegedly) wife-beating, bohemian pineapple and star of some of the worst films ever made, making a lot of women in their thirties judiciously edit their DVD collections.
Key heartthrob role: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)
Born Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi, this British-Sudanese actor was considered for the part of Captain Benjamin Sisko before the showrunners found out how young he was. They wrote him the part of Dr Julian Bashir instead and if you were really young in the 90s and had elite ass taste in televised science fiction his bouncy energy and puppy eyes awakened a lot of new feelings. He's still dreamy, recently starring in Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders and Gotham.
Key heartthrob role: Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Titanic ate the world but before that DiCaprio had been building hype since he was like 12, brilliantly playing a boy abused by Robert DeNiro in This Boy's Life. Veering towards difficult, provocative parts like The Basketball Diaries, Total Eclipse and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Baz Luhrmann decided his edgy cool was the exact thing for his operatic, kinetic telling of the Shakespearean tragedy. He was so beautiful in the part that even women who were born when it came out felt the impact, and are lining up today to go party on his yacht.
Text source. me
Gif sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
IMDb sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
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