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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 11/27/2009

Hot Dirtbags: The top 10

By Liz Kelly

Forget the "Sexiest Man Alive." We gather today to give thanks for a much rarer form of male attractor: the hot dirtbag. The topic came up in last week's Celebritology Live discussion and by the end of the chat I had promised to compile a list of my top 10 objects of attraction.

Now I get that the dirtbag isn't for everyone, but hey, sometimes nice guys finish last. And to somewhat fracture the words of Mae West: when guys are good they're good, but when they're bad they're better. For some of us, the bad boy will always hold a certain attraction. If we're lucky, we know better than to act on our impulses; we learn to admire a dirtbag from afar, much as we would a Picasso dipped in ebola juice.

The dirtbag criteria: A man who's attractive -- either physically or charismatically -- but whose appeal may be hidden beneath a layer of grime or his big-time dirtbag tendencies (aka drugging, lying, cheating on a spouse).

My top 10 hot dirtbags (after the jump):

1. Russell Crowe (Prime Dirtbaggery: In "Romper Stomper" and "3:10 to Yuma") Russell not only knows how to play an emotionless sociopath, but he's approximated one in real life, too. Although a bit calmer (and somehow less attractive, now that I think of it) Russell once trashed his way through hotels and even beaned a hotel employee with a phone.

Crowe in '3:10 to Yuma.' (Lionsgate Films)
2. Josh Holloway (Prime Dirtbaggery: As James "Sawyer" Ford on "Lost") The guy wanders around shirtless, sweaty, possessed of a perpetual five o'clock shadow and a caustic way with words. What more could a girl ask for? Oh, he's also a con man. A definite plus.

Holloway as a shirtless Sawyer on 'Lost.' (ABC)
3. Billy Crudup (Prime Dirtbaggery: As a junkie in "Jesus's Son") There was just something about Crudup's turn as a hapless heroin addict that warmed my heart. And, in real life, Crudup displayed true dirtbag tendencies when he left a pregnant Mary Louise Parker for a fling with Claire Danes.

Billy Crudup as a lovable junkie in 'Jesus' Son.' (Lionsgate)
4. Joaquin Phoenix (Prime Dirtbaggery: As a delinquent high school kid in "To Die For") Phoenix was hot as a teen willing to kill for Nicole Kidman. However, his semi-literate character clearly hadn't washed in a while and probably wouldn't have been progressed to the point of being able to spell "Metallica."

Joaquin Phoenix in 1995's 'To Die For.' (Columbia Pictures)
5. Iggy Pop (Prime Dirtbaggery: Stooges era) Sure, the guy is basically a walking piece of gristle at this point, but in the late '60s and '70s Iggy was sex with a microphone: ever-shirtless, ever-writhing, ever-ready -- an in-your-face version of Jim Morrison (who almost made the list himself).

Iggy on the cover of 1973's 'Raw Power.' (Columbia)
6. Benicio Del Toro (Prime Dirtbaggery: "The Way of the Gun" or "21 Grams") He's dark, brooding and can play a heck of a bad guy. But Benicio's best asset is his voice -- basically a gravelly, low, lightly-accented mating call.

Benicio showing us the 'Way of the Gun.' (Artisan Entertainment)
7. Scott Glenn (Prime Dirtbaggery: "Urban Cowboy") In another case of a role-specific hotness, Glenn stole the show from John Travolta as bad cowboy Wes in one of my favorite movies, 1980's "Urban Cowboy." Okay, he was pretty abusive and stole from his employer. But the guy could ride the heck out of a mechanical bull and totally rocked a mesh T-shirt.

Glenn shows off his mesh t-shirt in 'Urban Cowboy.' (Paramount Pictures)
8. Mickey Rourke (Prime Dirtbaggery: "Barfly") Forget the post-boxing injuries, post-surgery Mickey Rourke you know from "The Wrestler." When the guy was young, he was smoldering. And although a case could be made for scuzzy hotness in everything from "Rumblefish" to "Nine 1/2 Weeks" it was his turn as a character based on legendary drunken author Charles Bukowski that really captured my heart.

Mickey Rourke in 'Barfly.' (Golan-Globus Productions)
9. Sam Elliott (Prime Dirtbaggery: As a master bar bouncer in "Road House") This guy is basically the Hollywood go-to when a cowboy or biker is needed to fill out the cast, but it was the Patrick Swayze travesty "Road House" that revealed Elliott at his most attractive -- as a scrounger more at home in the twilight world of highway-side bars than in the daylight world.

Sam Elliott in 1989's 'Road House.' (United Artists)
10. Vincent Gallo (Prime Dirtbaggery: "Brown Bunny") The guy is seriously self-delusional, and his ego has probably talked him out of a bigger film career, but there's a reason he keeps getting called back to model for everyone from H&M to Calvin Klein to Yves Saint Laurent. Clue: It's cuz he's hot.

Vincent Gallo in 2009's 'Tetro.' (AP)
I shared mine -- now add your lists, or even single candidates, below. We'll take up the discussion again in next week's Celebritology Live chat.

(P.S. Guys -- next week I'll ask for your help with a list of bad girls, so hang tight.)

By Liz Kelly  | November 27, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists  
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I wholeheartedly agree with Russell Crowe. I would have to add Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber, the Sheriff of Nottingham). The second he opens his mouth and starts talking, I'm his.

Posted by: J2-D2 | November 27, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Ooh, Joaquin Phoenix! Yum. (He also plays a dirtbag in the excellent "Buffalo Soldiers", BTW.) Liz, any word at all on where he is now?

I guess he might only qualify based on film roles, not real life, but Viggo Mortensen scruffs up beautifully.

Also like Russell Crowe and Josh Holloway. Speaking of hot Losties, there's always Naveen Andrews. Let's face it, Sayid Jarrah is not the nicest guy in the world; Mr. Andrews has had drug and baby-daddy issues in real life.

Posted by: northgs | November 27, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: nikejordans1 | November 27, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Sam Elliott was truly hot in "Mask". Don't know if that character qualifies as dirtbag since he was pretty nice throughout, if I recall.

Mickey Rourke is truly a dirtbag, but more in the "cross the street, avert your eyes" kind of way.

Posted by: marybindc | November 27, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Just to provide a little aid and comfort to the "good guys" who post on this blog:

Rest assured that, for some of us, a guy being a dirtbag is, and always has been, a non-negotiable DEAL-BREAKER. So please keep on being nice, cuz it really does make everyone's lives better (including your own, sooner or later).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | November 27, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes!! On Sam Elliot. Definitely dirtbag hot.

To add to the list: Viggo Mortensen. Yeah, he first attracted me with the very much good guy Strider/Aragorn, but I'd argue that he rocked the bad boy scruffy look all too well.

Agree with Nosy Parker - dirtbag is a dealbreaker. Might be hot, not relationship material. So Sam Elliot gets the romantic sighs but you good guys get the actual girl.

Posted by: DCCubefarm | November 27, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I suppose this counts as ancient history, but isn't the consummate dirtbag Marlon Brando, on-screen in Streetcar and Last Tango, and off-screen in real life?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | November 27, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I would like to nominate Ed Westwick in the role of Chuck on Gossip Girl. A true bad boy and all the better for it.

Posted by: ideallydc | November 27, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

How did Anthony Bourdain not make this list? Liz, I thought you loved him too?!

It seems like many of the fellas are on this list because of the characters that they play.

Posted by: MzFitz | November 27, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, he may be a bit dirt baggy on the screen, but Sam Elliott has been happily married to Katharine Ross since 1984. But, married or not... he's always been hot.

Posted by: LBinVA | November 27, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I see where you're going with the first three, but after that, I think there's some sort of line you crossed into gross, disgusting, unshaven and probably extremely smelly. I think Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Gallo look very similar, probably smell horrible, and make me want to donate money to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Posted by: lolyla | November 29, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The best looking guy in The Brown Bunny was Jeremy Lowe---a definite John Derek look alike--who can act. And Sam Elliott? He's been insanely hot since he made "Frogs" --which I think was about the dawn of civilization.

Posted by: maizieellen | November 30, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

My choice, and not because he looks the part (he definitely does NOT) is Neil Patrick Harris' character in HIMYM. He is handsome and witty and willing to cut you down in an instant with his words with no provocation. I always fall for guys like that. Why o why??? Sawyer is definitely this type of guy too but he does have the hot dirtbag look going for him as well.

Posted by: hodie | November 30, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Michael C. Hall -- Dexter (need I say more?)

Although I can't find anything dirtbaggy about his personal life...

Posted by: dablues1 | November 30, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I'd add Kid Rock & Tommy Lee to this list.

Kid Rock because he just comes off as that redneck, trailerpark trash when IRL he was a nice boy from the burbs.

Lee for, well, check out the vid with Pam & it says it all lover.

As for Sam Elliott, I know many women of many ages that have him on their kitchen list, myself included. The voice helps a lot too.

Posted by: wadejg | November 30, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse


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Posted by: nikejordans1 | December 1, 2009 4:23 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: columbus2 | December 1, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I second Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass and along similar lines, I'd like to nominate James Spader, aka: Blaine from Pretty in Pink, the drug dealer in Less Than Zero, and Alan Shore! He even got to redeem his dirtbaggery as the conflicted dom to Maggie Gyllenhaal's (sp?) sub in Secretary.

Posted by: moi1 | December 1, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - Steff, the preppy snob from Pretty in Pink. Andrew MacCarthy was Blane.

Posted by: moi1 | December 1, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

J2-D2, I agree with you 100% about adding Alan Rickman. IMO, Hans Gruber is one of the coolest - and hottest - criminals in moviedom!

Posted by: mssnatchquatch | December 3, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Agree wholeheartedly on Viggo, Alan Rickman, Sam Elliott, Scott Glenn. (Although my fave Sam Elliott role was as chief of staff "Kermit" in The American President. The voice, oh the voice.)

I add:
Willem Dafoe, in anything
Harvey Keitel, IMO the best butt in show business, in anything

Posted by: Californian11 | December 3, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

And Ralph Fiennes (usually plays a somewhat disturbed/disturbing role, dirtbaggery in real life).

Posted by: Californian11 | December 3, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with MzFitz about Anthony Bourdain. I'd add Gordon Ramsay. I dunno, something about guy who played footie, cooks, and cusses. Yum.

Posted by: arancia12 | December 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

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