Summer’s nearly over, but we’re not quite ready to give up on the steamy screen crushes that have left us swooning these past few months. So, before the leaves start falling and it’s time to think about cuffing and/or Oscar season, let’s take one long, lingering look at the rogues’ gallery of TV and film characters (and the actors who play them) who have gotten us all hot and bothered these extra doggy days of summer.
In theaters, we fell hard for women of action, whether they were sword-wielding warriors, motorcycle-racing daredevils, or multiverse-leaping moms. At home, we were breathless for a small-town metalhead, the sweet baker in a rough sandwich shop, a passionate pair of vampires, and a baseball player with panache. Whether we found them in cartoon shows, horror movies, or critically heralded drama series, these hotties have stolen our hearts, and we regret nothing.
Eddie Munson, Stranger Things
This lanky sweetheart is too smart for his own good and too weird for a small town like Hawkins, Indiana. From his mop of enviably fluffy curls to the chunky silver rings he sports on his fingers, right down to those chicken-scratch bat tats, Eddie is both an ’80s style icon and a perfectly cromulent crush object for anyone looking to take a bite out of the darker side of life. And I do mean anyone — the extra beat he takes when teasing Steve Harrington takes things from “no homo, dude!” to flirtatious in the best and most metal way. He can be the master of our puppets any time. —Jenni Miller, Contributing Writer
Keke Palmer, Nope
Credit: Universal Pictures
Nope might be a bit divisive among audiences, but one opinion about the movie appears unanimous: It’s a big YUP on Keke Palmer. It’s the impeccable fits, the irresistible little sister charm, that absolutely sick-ass Akira-style motorcycle slide, and so much more. In a movie full of iconic images and moments, Palmer somehow manages to steal the show constantly. Beam me up, Keke, because I’ll go to any part of the galaxy for you.
Don’t even get us started on her extracurriculars around the movie. She hands-down won the press tour for Nope again and again and again. She also still refuses to know who Dick Cheney is, earning our respect for the self-care of sparing herself that psychic damage.
While she’s in no way new to the entertainment scene (and we’re not just talking about her meme queendom either), 2022 really shaped up into The Summer of Keke. In addition to her electric performance in Jordan Peele’s sly sci-fi Western, Palmer used her voice onscreen and off when it came to Pixar’s latest blockbuster, Lightyear, which came out just a little more than a month before Nope. When controversy arose over a kiss between two female characters in the animated flick, Palmer championed the LGBTQ representation during a summer when queer communities really needed to feel loved and supported. —Jess Joho, Culture Reporter
D’Arcy Carden, A League of Their Own
Credit: Ann Marie Fox / Amazon Studios / Prime Video
Sure, we loved D’Arcy Carden as the ever-chipper not-a-girl Janet on The Good Place, but on Prime Video’s new TV series, she’s got us full-on swooning. Like “farm girl” Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson), we were instantly enchanted by the New York City bombshell known as Greta. From her polished shoes and stylish satin sportswear to that sexy smile accentuated by a bold red lip, to those rolling curls and that mischievous gaze, Greta is dripping with Old Hollywood glamour, with a fresh smack of street smarts, courtesy of Carden’s saucy performance.
Within the familiar warmth of the original movie premise, A League of Their Own found new stories to tell by embracing the queer narratives hidden in American history. And unlike some other shows that made us wait and wait for queer romance to spark, this sensational series has Carson and Greta making out throughout. Beyond allowing us to play in that romantic fantasy, the show is smartly steeped in a queer female gaze, which paints several of its sapphic heroines as drool-worthy crushes, including Max (Chanté Adams), Jo (Melanie Field), Jess (Kelly McCormack), and Lupe (Roberta Colindrez). Hey, whoever’s got your pulse racing on this show, we’re all winners. —Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
It was a tough choice between Michelle Yeoh or Ke Huy Quan from Everything Everywhere All At Once — a really mommy versus daddy issues kinda situation. As Waymond Wang, Quan pulls off the incredible feat of making fanny packs look really sexy, and he’s also the best example of a healthy, stable, supportive marriage partner we’ve seen onscreen in quite a while. At the same time, it’s hard to resist Evelyn Wang’s interdimensional fighting skills, not to mention her ability to kick generational trauma’s ass — or her hot dog fingers. In the end, Michelle Yeoh wins thanks to the sheer amount of time she’s clocked as a top-tier crush throughout her prolific and trailblazing career.
A classically trained ballerina, Yeoh went from winning Miss Malaysia World in 1983 to launching her career as a Hong Kong action star doing most of her own stunts in the ’80s and ’90s, before co-starring opposite Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. Her range truly knows no bounds, from doing her own acrobatic wire work stunts in Ang Lee’s lush wuxia drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to chewing scenery in the wildly successful rom-com Crazy Rich Asians. As the owner of her own production company on top of all that, Yeoh marks herself as a true multi-hyphenate — and a crush with whom we’d really like just doing laundry and taxes.—J.J.
Laszlo Cravensworth and Nadja of Antipaxos, What We Do In The Shadows
Credit: Russ Martin / FX
I’ve had a crush on Matt Berry for eons, but his whole poncy, louche deal has reached new heights with this season of What We Do in the Shadows, wherein he really comes into his own as the sensitive father figure of the weird child creature who crawled out of the corpse of Colin Robinson. Meanwhile, his ladylove Nadja — played by the absolutely hilarious and gorgeous Natasia Demetriou, who you really must see in Stath Lets Flats — is flourishing as a boss bitch running the hottest club for neck-biters in the five boroughs.
Their eternal commitment to and undying horniness for each other is super hot, as is their polymorphously perverse vibe. Their mutual-but-separate lust for the Baron, an ancient vampire played by Doug Jones, is a great example of their “anything that feels good is good” ethos. And honestly, who wouldn’t risk it all for a taste of that, even if it ends in heartbreak and/or your own death at the hands and teeth of the kookiest vampires on Staten Island? —J.M.
Tessa Thompson, Thor: Love and Thunder
Credit: Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios
The mere phrase “King Valkyrie” just does something to me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Then you have Tessa Thompson just absolutely nailing the legendary-lady-warrior-to-Asgard-ruler narrative arc like the trailblazing badass she is.
In all her roles, Thompson very much inspires a “step on my neck and run me over with a car” level of desire. While she might’ve been given a criminally insubstantial amount to do in Thor: Love and Thunder, Thompson makes a meal out of every second of screen time she gets. As much a queer icon as she is a relatable chaos agent, Valkyrie checks all the boxes for an ideal summer crush. In particular, her Phantom of the Opera t-shirt made queer theater kids (or recovering theater kids) everywhere feel incredibly seen. Hotter still, her flirtation with one of Zeus’s muses steamed up what otherwise turned out to be yet another sexless Marvel movie.
Despite the limitations that the Hollywood machine tries to impose on her queerness both on and off screen, no one can stop the raw power of Thompson’s crush factor. —J.J.
Jeff Bridges, The Old Man
Credit: Prashant Gupta / FX
Jeff Bridges is like a fine wine: only getting better with age and so tempting that he’s literally mouth-watering. If your taste doesn’t align with mine, might I suggest you’ve just not experienced his gruff allure in The Old Man?
In the FX thriller series, this silver fox is a former CIA agent on the run, desperate to protect his daughter from the repercussions of his treacherous past. Along the way, he’ll make up aliases, battle assassins, and seduce a dubious divorcee (Amy Brenneman). There’s a throbbing thread of romance throughout the series, but like the cliff-hanger season finale, the shying away from love scenes left me wanting more. At 72, Bridges has the swagger of a man that truly knows himself. His hair is long, luxurious, and shimmery, like a waterfall of liquid metal. His beard is robust, giving added gravitas to that grumble of a voice that gives me goosebumps.
For Season 2, I plead humbly for more action, and I don’t just mean more fight scenes. —K.P.
Tatiana Maslany, She-Hulk
Credit: Marvel Studios
Yes, it’s become de rigueur to demand that your crush snap you in half or whatever violent desire you feel expresses your thirst the best. But there’s something about a heroine who can absolutely, literally do that, and will also make you breakfast afterwards. Enter Jennifer Walters, breaking the fourth wall and probably also your headboard.
Maslany was already beloved in certain nerd circles thanks to her astonishing work in clone-conspiracy cult series Orphan Black, where she played more than a dozen genetically identically but wildly different people, thus offering a deeply crushable option no matter what your type may be. In She-Hulk, you only have two options — but honestly, even one Tatiana Maslany is worth the price of admission.
You’ve got Jen, the fierce lawyer with a smile that lights up the screen during her cheeky asides to the camera, zero patience for Hulksplaining from her cousin Bruce, and a charming fixation on Captain America’s sex life. Then, you’ve got the big green gal, a strapping super-being with a head of hair you could curl up and go to sleep in and deltoids that are barely contained by those muted charcoal suit jackets. Yes, the CGI She-Hulk has a bit of an uncanny-valley, 7th-gen-console-game quality to her (justice for VFX workers!), but if you could look past all that to pine after Lady Dimitrescu, surely you can cope with it here. Whether you want to be demolished by deft legal arguments or enormous, boulder-hurling arms, She-Hulk has got you covered. — Caitlin Welsh, Australia Editor
Lionel Boyce, The Bear
Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX
While plenty of pixels have been spilled in praise of the dirtbag chefs on FX’s The Bear, I have to give special attention to Lionel Boyce as Marcus, The Beef’s resident pastry chef. Marcus is the sweetest, calmest chef in The Bear‘s chaotic kitchen. All he wants to do is make good desserts and hone his craft — let the man make his donuts in peace, people!
On top of his love for desserts (which provides us with some of The Bear‘s most mouth-watering food porn), Marcus is one of the first chefs to support new sous chef Sydney, played by Ayo Edebiri. His kindness makes him a perfect antidote to the more toxic energy in the kitchen — looking at you, Richie! — and Boyce absolutely nails Marcus’s excitement and passion for cooking. I would gladly watch a spin-off of The Bear that’s just Boyce’s baking show. FX, please make it happen! —Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn Season 3
Credit: HBO Max
I dunno about you all, but with every passing day that our climate apocalypse drags on with no significant change from humanity, the more attracted I grow to super-powered eco-terrorists like Poison Ivy from Harley Quinn.
Through the first two seasons of the animated series, she won our hearts like she won over the affections of a certain character she develops a beautifully queer relationship with throughout Season 3. Poison Ivy is the kind of green thumb that you’ll want to put a ring on and immediately wife up. As sexy as she is supportive, as kind as she is chaotic, and as generous a lover as Batman is selfish, just consider me available for the next “Eat Bang Kill” tour your find yourself on, Ives. —J.J.
Lee Pace and Rachel Sennott, Bodies Bodies Bodies
She first caught our eye as the cringe comedy queen of Shiva Baby. He’s been inspiring crushes since Pushing Daisies and The Fall, and has steadily fed fans with thirst traps on social media. But this Hot Girl Summer, Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace’s powers combined to play lusty lovers in the grisly whodunnit Bodies Bodies Bodies.
Trapped in a remote mansion with a killer on the loose, twenty-something podcaster Alice clings to her May-December boyfriend Greg, because “look at him!” She’s a party girl, bedecked in glow-stick jewelry. He’s a dashing man, so ripped it’s downright scary. Yet even as they’re misappropriating self-care language and terrorizing their friends, we can’t help but root for the ultimate chaos couple. Do you think they’d throuple? Do you think any of us would get out alive? —K.P.
Elliot Page, The Umbrella Academy
What’s not to love about Elliot Page? In his first role after coming out as trans and nonbinary, Page’s boyish charms positively leapt off the screen and into our hearts during Season 3 of Umbrella Academy. But the crush factor of Viktor Hargreeves (who also came out as trans in one of the season’s most heart-warming and affecting storylines) goes far beyond just a fresh new barbershop cut. He won us over as the unwavering moral backbone of the show’s chaotic superhero family. Proving himself unwaveringly loyal to Sissy across every decade of time he finds himself in, Viktor raises the bar on relationship goals.
We wish Elliot Page could enjoy just being his magnetic self right now rather than needing to champion a whole demographic of human beings’ right to exist. But Page continues to navigate the turbulence of transitioning in the public eye during such a terrifying time for LGBTQ folks with an inspiring resilience, bravery, and self-love. —J.J.
Cosmo Jarvis, Persuasion
Credit: Nick Wall/Netflix
As Beyonce once said, the “best revenge is your paper.” That’s certainly true for certified hottie Captain Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) in Netflix’s Fleabag-esque adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Persuasion. People had thoughts about this particular adaptation of the beloved 1818 novel, with many critics stating that the modernisation of the novel didn’t entirely come off as intended. I thoroughly enjoyed it, however, because I’m a sucker for a romantic period drama.
The TL;DR is that Frederick experiences a financial glow up after losing his one true love because he was deemed not enough of a catch in the money and connections department. (Damn those 19th century money-grabbing snobs!) When the film begins, we’re informed that Frederick and Anne (Dakota Johnson) have history of the tortured romantic variety. They were in love once, until Anne’s godmother, Lady Russell, decided he wasn’t a suitable choice because he lacked fortune and connections. As luck would have it, a reversal of circumstances takes place, with Anne’s ghastly family falling on hard times, while Frederick strikes it rich. Money hasn’t changed the dashing Frederick, who shows up years later and declares he’s looking for a wife.
Naturally, his ex Anne is still kicking about (and kicking herself for turning him down) and the pair have many emotionally charged and tense interactions. Jarvis absolutely nails the wounded puppy aesthetic and really makes you wonder what the hell Lady Russell was thinking. Money isn’t everything, hun. Will Frederick finally move on and meet someone else, or will he get back with the ex? Either way you’ll find yourself screaming out, “Choose me, Frederick! I’ll love you!” No, just me? OK….—Rachel Thompson, Features Editor
Nathan Fielder, The Rehearsal
Nathan Fielder is, by any estimation, a conventionally attractive man: deep brown eyes, a square chin that’s somehow both soft and defined, a generous mop of salt-and-pepper hair that’s growing saltier as the years go by. He even appeared shirtless on the cover of New York magazine this year in the runup to the premiere of his then-mysterious new series The Rehearsal. But his diffident, self-consciously awkward screen persona doesn’t scream “sex symbol” to everyone — just picture yourself on a Tinder date with him, or at least the “Nathan Fielder” character that seems to bleed into and out of his “real” personality. Imagine him responding to your breezy, funny work story with his lush brows knitted and that uncertain, neutral “…Okay” and try not to run screaming from this hypothetical date that may or may not also be some kind of reality-bending, dubiously ethical social experiment.
But there’s also no question that he is a genius, possibly of the evil variety, and there is nothing hotter than a brilliant mind behind an intense gaze. The crush calculus of Fielder oscillates between “God, yes!” and “Oh, God, no!” as you watch him at work, in a mirror of the rollercoaster internal monologue of “Is this real?/This can’t be real.” And sometimes he just looks tired and stubbly or is holding a small child with tender terror, and you’re just like, “Whatever this is, sign me up.” — C.W.
Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey, Bridgerton
It still counts because we’re still crushin’.
Yes, yes, Bridgerton was technically more of a spring crush situation, but anyone who’s left the cast of Shonda Rhimes’s horny period drama behind in the steamy pages of Lady Whistledown’s pamphlets, well, good for you. From dreamy-voiced Jonathan Bailey getting his own Colin Firth moment crawling out of the pond soaked to the skin, to Simone Ashley throwing the most scintillating cold stares as Kate Sharma, riding through the rain and delivering the sickest of burns to society schmucks, we couldn’t take our eyes off this well-mannered pair. The near-kisses almost ended us. It’s hard to pick between the smokin’ hot tons-folk, but Kate and Anthony outdid everyone in the ultimate ranking of all our crushes. They are the bane of our existence, and the object of all our desires. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor
Daryl McCormack, Bad Sisters
Daryl McCormack (left) in “Bad Sisters”
Credit: Apple TV+
Our introduction to Daryl McCormack’s character Matthew in Bad Sisters is when he comes spilling off his motorbike after swerving to avoid Becka (Eve Hewson) after she runs out into the road. They have a slightly awkward encounter that involves her picking up his dropped sandwich (“I think it’s got gravel in it”) before he glares at her and rides off on his way. But does she return that glare as he’s motoring off down the road? No! The reason? Even post-crash and with hair ruffled by a bike helmet, Daryl McCormack still smoulders.
And yes, this is the same Daryl McCormack whose performance in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande left us (and Emma Thompson’s character) well flustered. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor