The 40-Year-Old Heartthrob

Former teen idols Jason Priestley, Donnie Wahlberg, and Christian Slater all turn 40 this month. VIEW OUR GALLERY of older kids on the block who still have the right stuff.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images; Chris Polk / AP Photo

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images; Chris Polk / AP Photo

Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon made girls swoon in early ‘80s films like The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, with his rugged good looks and bad-boy persona—and he’s enjoyed a solid film career ever since. Dillon played unctuous villain Pat Healy in 1998’s There’s Something About Mary to perfection, and in 2005, he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the Academy Award-winning Crash. The following year, he starred alongside comedy A-listers Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson in You, Me and Dupree, and he’s got several more movies in the pipeline. The hunky 45-year-old may be even hotter than he was during the Reagan era.

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John Cusack

A trench coat and black high-top sneakers never looked better than on John Cusack in 1989’s Say Anything…. With his iconic portrayal of Lloyd Dobler, Cusack led millions of teenage girls to believe that their quirky knight in shining armor was just around the corner—and millions of guys that they had a shot with the Diane Courts of the world. Since that breakout role, Cusack, 43, has enjoyed a successful film career, with hits like Grosse Point Blank (1997) and High Fidelity (2000). He currently blogs for the Huffington Post, and you can catch him next in Roland Emmerich's new disaster film, 2012, slated to hit theaters this November.

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Jason Priestley

The Beverly Hills 90210 star may be turning 40 next week, but he’ll always be teen hunk Brandon Walsh to a generation of fans. Since the immensely popular drama ended in 2000, Priestley has continued to direct and star in a series of TV projects, including NBC’s My Name Is Earl and Medium, and ABC’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Priestley’s also become a racecar driver—so despite his new over-40 status, the former idol doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

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Ralph Macchio

In classics like The Outsiders and the Karate Kid movies, Ralph Macchio won over female fans with his boyish good looks and earnest demeanor—earning him a near-permanent spot in teen girl “bubblegum” magazines. He continued to charm in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny, playing wrongly accused murderer (and nephew of Joe Pesci) Billy Gambini. While his acting career has slowed since then, the 47-year-old appeared in a 2005 episode of HBO’s Entourage and earlier this year, he starred on several episodes of ABC’s Ugly Betty. Married since 1987, Macchio has a daughter, Julia, and a son, named after his Karate Kid character, Daniel.

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John Stamos

Oh, Uncle Jessie—how we adored your leather biker jackets, perfectly coifed mullet and banter with Dave Coulier. Yet the loveable Full House heartthrob is proof that men only improve with age: Stamos turns 46 this week, and he’s more handsome than ever. In 2005, he made yet another comeback starring as flirtatious doctor Tony Gates on ER. And this fall, he stars as Albert Peterson in the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie, opposite Gina Gershon. “It's a sexier way to play Albert and Rosie,” Stamos told Entertainment Weekly, “and there's nothing wrong with that.” The Olsen twins would be proud.

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Patrick Dempsey

One word: McDreamy. Yes, Patrick Dempsey rose to bona-fide heartthrob status throughout the ‘80s, with films like Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy. But it seems the 43-year-old is truly in his prime now, starring as TV’s sexiest neurosurgeon on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. He’s also scored some dreamy movie roles recently, in films like Enchanted and Made of Honor. But that success hasn’t spoiled him. “I get a lot of people who confess childhood crushes on me,” he told People in 2006. “That makes a guy feel good about himself.”

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Donnie Wahlberg

Donnie Wahlberg, who turns 40 this week, may not be such a new kid on the block anymore—but he’s still giving fans plenty to sing about. In 1999, Wahlberg, older brother of Mark, continued his transition into film with a pivotal role in M. Night Shymalan’s The Sixth Sense. And in 2001, he starred in the award-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. But after appearing in the popular Saw horror movies, 2008’s Righteous Kill, and a host of TV projects, Donnie and the other New Kids reunited, touring the country—and inspiring housewives nationwide to scream like it was 1991. Next up, he’ll star in the TV drama Bunker Hill, alongside Bridget Moynahan, and the live-action comedy The Zookeeper with Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Rosario Dawson.

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Scott Baio

With his roles in Happy Days and Charles in Charge, Scott Baio earned himself a passionate female following. And while his career stalled a bit afterward, in 2005, he made a comeback—hilariously portraying lawyer Bob Loblaw (say it slowly) on Fox’s Arrested Development. In 2007, he went on to star in the VH1 reality series Scott Baio is 45…And Single, on which he ultimately proposed to longtime girlfriend Renee Sloan. On the follow-up series, Scott Baio is 46…And Pregnant, he explored the joys of fatherhood. Because everyone likes a happily ever-after heartthrob story.

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Andrew McCarthy

This hunky Brat Packer charmed fans in the ‘80s and early ‘90s films Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, and Weekend at Bernie’s, with his feathered hair and tapered jeans. And his long résumé is proof that, at 46, he’s still got it: Last year, McCarthy was cast as cynical billionaire Joe Bennett in NBC’s Lipstick Jungle, and earlier this year, he guest-starred on the mega-hit Gossip Girl.

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Christian Slater

Slater, who turns 40 on Tuesday, earned his teen idol status with films like Heathers and True Romance. In 2008, he was cast as the lead in NBC’s much-hyped but short-lived My Own Worst Enemy, and he currently lends his voice to Seth Green’s cult cartoon favorite, Emmy-winning Robot Chicken. While his career may have hit a rough patch recently, we’re confident we’ll be seeing more of the Gen X hunk.

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Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp first won hearts on 21 Jump Street—and despite how much he tried to shake his heartthrob image, with roles in films like Edward Scissorhands and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape—he still causes plenty of hearts to jump. The 46-year-old earned Oscar nominations for his performances in Sweeney Todd, Finding Neverland and Pirates of the Caribbean. (Even in eyeliner, he makes our hearts beat faster.) And there’s already buzz about his role as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, due out next year. Since 1998, Depp has lived with actress and model Vanessa Paradis. The have two children: Lily-Rose and Jack.

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Kirk Cameron

The Growing Pains star was a “bubblegum” magazine staple throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, with legions of teen girls pinning tear-out posters of Mike Seaver—despite the Hammer pants—to their bedroom walls. In his late teens, Cameron became a devout Christian, and his focus shifted from acting to the ministry. Since then, he has become a star in the evangelical community—and recently, he’s fused his interests, starring in Christian-themed movies. Over the past decade, Cameron, who turns 40 next year, starred in the Left Behind series, adapted from the “Rapture” novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and in 2008, he appeared in the drama Fireproof.

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Rob Lowe

Earning a place in the Brat Pack with St. Elmo’s Fire, Lowe went on to star as the ridiculously good-looking villain in ‘90s comedies like Wayne’s World and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. But some might argue it wasn’t until he scored the role of Sam Seaborn on The West Wing that the 45-year-old proved his acting mettle. He currently stars as Calista Flockhart’s husband, Robert McCallister, on the popular ABC drama Brothers and Sisters.

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Luke Perry

Luke Perry may forever be remembered as the heartthrob who made sideburns cool again, starring as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210. While his high-school years are far behind him, the 43-year-old has still got the goods. He continues to appear in TV projects, including the promising but ultimately canceled series Windfall and John From Cincinnati. He’s also done voice work for The Simpsons and Family Guy, and he’s got several film and TV projects in the pipeline.

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Michael J. Fox

The adorable Fox charmed audiences with his roles in Family Ties and Back to the Future. And at 48, his career is still going strong—over the past few years, Fox has starred on ABC’s Boston Legal and FX’s Rescue Me. But beyond his acting contributions, Fox—diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991—has helmed the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, devoted to spreading awareness and helping to find a cure.