While the ’90s and early ’00s had us lusting over bad boys or brooding bachelors, we’ve turned our attention to a new kind of celebrity crush in 2019. This year, we’re lusting over men like Tom Hanks, John Legend, and Prince Harry: generous and socially responsible celebs who love their wives and practice everyday kindness. It’s no secret that we’re living in frightening times — so when we’re looking for comfort and hope, is it any wonder that these men represent the new sexy?
A November 2019 New York Times article profiled Tom Hanks ahead of recently released A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, in which Hanks plays Mister Rogers. The profile acknowledges Hanks’s modern-day appeal at the outset: “Here is a list of stories about Tom Hanks I’ve heard over the last few miserable months,” the piece begins, and goes on to list anecdote after anecdote of Hanks’s selflessness, professionalism, and curiosity about the world.
Everything about Hanks is, it appears, a model of how to be a good person: “A long time ago, I learned how important it was to show up a little bit early,” Hanks tells the Times. “Be ready to go, you know? And to respect the whole process, and I think that you could respect the whole process even when the other people don’t.”
Hanks isn’t just accommodating: He’s introspective, humble, and loving. Here’s what he has to say about the experience of being a parent: “Somewhere along the line, I figured out, the only thing really, I think, eventually a parent can do is say I love you, there’s nothing you can do wrong, you cannot hurt my feelings, I hope you will forgive me on occasion, and what do you need me to do? You offer up that to them. I will do anything I can possibly do in order to keep you safe. That’s it.”
Hanks isn’t the only gushing dad who’s caught our eye this year — John Legend, dad to Miles and Luna with Chrissy Teigen, was just named People’s Sexiest Man Alive and is known for taking an active role in diaper duty and defending Teigen from mom-shamers. And Prince Harry, dad to 6-month-old Archie, has captured our attention this year too, both for how he’s stepped up as a father and how he’s rallied in wife Meghan Markle’s defense.
These men step up to the plate as husbands and fathers, but they also share the desire to give back to the community at large, each undertaking charitable initiatives to help create social change. Harry recently rose awareness for World Mental Health Day, and regularly speaks out about the need for better mental healthcare — whether he’s speaking from personal experience or fighting for the rights of citizens in Lesotho and Botswana who are affected by HIV.
Legend has also used his platform and financial success for good: In the past few years alone, he’s donated $5,000 toward covering school-lunch debt in Seattle, $200,000 (along with Chrissy) to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, $5,000 to anti-gun movement March for Our Lives, and $288,000 to the ACLU. And that’s just where his money goes: The musician also lends his name and musical talents to hurricane relief efforts, human rights foundations, and nonprofits like Teach for America on a regular basis.
Finally, Tom Hanks: the beloved actor is known as a champion of LGBT rights and environmentalist causes, funding research into alternative fuels. But the 63-year-old’s charitable interests are as diverse as his films: He’s donated to and gotten involved in organizations that help everything from art therapy for traumatized children to services for veterans.
Whether it’s a story of Harry calling out racism in the media, Legend venting about how misogyny affects female presidential candidates, or Hanks going out of his way to support female directors, each of these men call attention to the need for more justice and kindness in the world, and inspire us to believe that change is possible. Simply put, Hanks cares about people — and he uses the power he has as an actor to help people out.
In 2019, modern heartthrobs are men who make us believe that the world can be a better place. And if everyone modeled their behavior a little more after Tom Hanks — or John Legend, or Prince Harry — we really do believe it could be.