The Movie Waffler 10 Leading Men Who Could Never Be Stars Today | The Movie Waffler

10 Leading Men Who Could Never Be Stars Today

It seems, now more than ever, to become a Hollywood leading man you need to be a conventionally handsome Anglo-Saxon actor with a square jaw and perfect cheekbones. 

While there are some actors who happen to possess both talent and looks (Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey spring to mind), there are supremely talented actors who will never get those leading roles, simply because of how they look. It's a strange mindset among Hollywood execs, one which doesn't really hold up. If audiences are willing to watch actors like Bryan Cranston and James Gandolfini on TV, what makes Hollywood think they wouldn't accept them in leading movie roles? In the past, being a leading man simply required charisma, rather than Armani model looks. Here we look at some of the most revered actors in Hollywood history who, sadly, would never be allowed to headline movies today.

Humphrey Bogart
Though his wife, Lauren Bacall, claims he was the sexiest man alive, it's hard to imagine Bogie's iconic lived-in face adorning the bedroom walls of today's teenage girls. Give me Bogie and Bacall over Stewart and Pattison any day.

James Cagney
Like Christopher Walken, Cagney began his career as a dancer before finding himself typecast in tough guy roles, due to his "you don't wanna mess with me" scowl. If Cagney were around now, he would certainly earn a living in villainous roles, but would his name appear above the title? I doubt it.

John Wayne
For many, John Wayne epitomizes the American spirit. Many modern cynics claim he wasn't a great actor but they're obviously watching the wrong movies. Check him out in any of his collaborations with John Ford and you'll see just how impressive he could be. Wayne was one of the all-time top box-office draws but, with his complete lack of sex appeal, would he find work today?

Spencer Tracy
Tracy is one of those actors who seems to have been born in his fifties. Even from the beginning of his career he exuded a worldly, fatherly charisma. He must have been a dream for scriptwriters as when Tracy broke into a speech, he could make any verbal garbage sound like great advice. It's impossible to imagine not just him, but his regular co-star, Katherine Hepburn, being box-office draws today.

Frank Sinatra
Thanks to his famous singing voice, it's easy to forget just how big a movie star, and great an actor, Sinatra was. His turn in 'Some Came Running' is arguably the greatest male performance of the fifties. Women loved him, and a lot of men feared him, but with his scrawny figure and one late night too many face, I doubt 'ol blue eyes would catch the attention of modern casting agents looking for a romantic lead.

Elliott Gould
For a long time, Hollywood liked its leading men to come from white Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock. Jewish actors who wanted to make it, despite the old cliche of Hollywood being run by Jews, had to adopt all-American names like Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster. In the late sixties, however, Hollywood began to accept that America was a melting pot and this allowed actors like Gould to prosper. Now, Hollywood seems to be regressing to its old casting ways, Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto an example.

Dustin Hoffman
With his short stature and unconventional looks, Hoffman would never be the huge star he was in the seventies, were he starting out as a young man today. There's really no contemporary equivalent of Hoffman today, an actor who managed to be both a leading man and a character actor rolled into one.

Walter Matthau
With a face that resembles a sleepy Basset hound, no Hollywood casting agent would dream of giving Matthau a lead role today. His comic features made him an obvious choice for comedies but don't forget Matthau often crossed into lead roles in more dramatic fare like 'Charley Varrick' and 'The Taking of Pelham 123'.

George C Scott
In many ways, Scott picked up the baton left behind by Spencer Tracy. Like Tracy, he never seemed to have been under the age of 50 and when he spoke, you listened. Scott constantly cursed and moaned about how vacuous and artistically corrupt Hollywood was. And that was the seventies! Imagine what he'd have to say about Hollywood today! 

Donald Sutherland
A brilliant actor who was as comfortable in comedy as he was in serious drama, Sutherland was far from an oil painting in the seventies when he was a huge box-office draw. Even his son, Kiefer, who is certainly more conventionally handsome, struggled for years to make it in Hollywood before finding TV refuge with '24', so what chance would Sutherland Snr have now?

Eric Hillis