Men of the Year

updated 11/28/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/2005 01:00AM

SEXIEST MAN-NEXT-DOOR
James Denton

AGE: 42
STATUS: Married, two children
BEST SUPPORTING PLUMBER: He keeps on adding muscle to Wisteria Lane

If you lived next door to James Denton, you'd find him...

Playing in his backyard. "We've got a swing. My 2-year-old, Sheppard, absolutely loves it."

Pulling daddy duty. My daughter Malin [7 months] is still so young that she's all about eating and changing diapers. I'm home all the time with my kids."

Digging through basketball and baseball memorabilia in his garage. "I've still got my basketball camp T-shirts from when I was a little kid. I still have my high school uniform. I've got my Little League baseball and basketball trophies. Sometimes I'll get them out and look at them."

Cleaning. "I'm annoyingly neat. I like to be organized. I hate clutter. My CDs are alphabetized. That's the kind of guy I am."

Making breakfast. "I cook bacon and eggs and pancakes."

Puttering around with a hammer or a chop saw. "I can do floors and dry-wall and frame doors and run electricity and plumbing. I learned it building sets in Chicago when I was in a theater company. It's great therapy to work on things on your own."

Playing music. "I'm actually a pretty decent musician. I play the guitar, keyboard and the harmonica. My wife, Erin, plays piano and guitar. In my living room I have eight guitars hanging on the wall and a baby grand. Our house is a real musical house."

SEXIEST CASTAWAY
Daniel Dae Kim

Age: 37
Status: Married, two children
Tropical heat: His Lost character speaks only Korean. Who cares!

Kim came to the U.S, from Korea as a toddler. He later earned a B.A. from Haverford College and a Master's in Fine Arts from New York University. So—big surprise—his English is flawless. Not to mention the rest of him. Here's proof:

"I've actually gotten a lot of compliments on my smile. Because I play such serious characters onscreen, when people see me smile, it's a welcome change."

"When I come home and hear my kids laughing or playing together, that automatically erases any tension or stress I might have from the day."

"I've hung onto almost every love letter any girl has ever written to me."

SEXIEST TV VILLAIN
Ian McShane

Age: 63
Status: Married, two children
Fresh twist on the Old West: He brings Deadwood to life

The HBO hit's foulmouthed, silkily evil saloon owner Al Swearengen is as dangerously captivating as a traveling medicine show. Pulling back the curtain, we see what's...

Real: The mustache. "Oh. yeah. You betcha. Every summer I shave it off as soon as I finish the show. My wife [actress Gwen Humble] is not a fan."

Fake: The Yank accent. "I was born in Blackburn, in middle England. Dark, unrelenting rain, so I like L.A."

Real: His sultry appeal. "Am I sexier now than when I started out? I would hope so! It's living life and enjoying other people, just getting on day by day and trying not to get too pissed off at everything that goes on around me. Having a great job helps too."

Fake: Al's ultra-slicked-down hair; "That middle part—we put what I call bear grease in and comb it down. Al's look is the hair—that's what gets me into character the most."

Real: The &*%#ing. "I curse very healthily. I always have."

SEXIEST BREAKOUT STAR
Terrence Howard

Age: 36
Status: Married, three children
On the fast track: This year he stole three films—Crash, Hustle & Flow, Get Rich or Die Tryin'

How do you rate your sexiness on a scale of 1 to 10?
"It's unratable. The minute you rate yourself you're done. Your quest is over."

What part of the day do you feel the most sexy?
"When my morning face is on. That used to go away by 10 o'clock, but now it stays till about 4 in the afternoon. Its just me. Unadulterated."

We hear you play a lot of instruments.
"I can pick up the guitar and rip the heart out of somebody. I play cello, violin, bass, saxophone, piano—and Quincy Jones is teaching me the trumpet. The best instrument I play is me."

There's been Oscar buzz about your role in Crash.
"Whatever happens, man. I'm still sexy. I'm damn sexy."

SEXIEST CROSSOVER
Freddie Prinze Jr.

Age: 29
Status: Married to Sarah Michelle Gellar
Shifting gears: This year he swapped movies for TV

He plays a chef in his sitcom, based on his own life attending culinary school in the '90s. We asked him to dish.

Was cooking school dangerous?
"They say you're either a cutter or a burner. I never cut myself. I had been chopping vegetables with my mother since I was a kid, so I had that down. But I would get burned. With oil, usually. I have plenty of scars on my hands."

Any rules in your own kitchen?
"Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink."

SEXIEST FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Denis Leary

Age: 48
Status: Married, two children
Tough guy, soft heart: The star of the FX series Rescue Me has raised $5 million through the Leary Firefighters Foundation since 2000 to benefit fire departments across the country

Leary's primary sources of heat:

1. Cigarettes: "I quit smoking once and it was easy. I should have stuck with it."

2. Hockey: "On the set we play two or three times a week. It's constant movement—a great workout."

3. Spontaneous combustion: "No matter what anybody says, relationships are based on physical attraction. The first time I saw my wife, it was pure animal whatever."

4. The laundry room: "I'm a really good laundry guy. That Bounce dryer stuff is the greatest invention ever!"

5. The firemen's status as supreme hotties: "There are a lot of young guys becoming firefighters based on that fantasy, so it better be true!"

SEXIEST JACK OF ARTS
Dermot Mulroney

Age: 42
Status: Married to actress Catherine Keener, one son
Multi-cultured: Acting is only one of his talents

Under all that dashing salt-and-pepper hair—dyed dark brown for his role in December's The Family Stone—is the mind of an artist.

Musician: "I play the cello, which is definitely sexy—it's a big piece of vibrating wood between your knees. And the sound is just beautiful."

Writer: "I write songs. My brother writes cool story songs, like the one about a tiny woman and a deaf mute. All mine end up being about me, sort of happy, sad, with a narrative arch."

Painter: "I think I probably have latent talent as a painter. I haven't really developed it, but the things I've tried have been really good—watercolors."

Dancer: "I pretend I don't dance. I can. Not like tap-dance or show tunes or anything like that, but I've danced in movies."

Plus, says his costar in The Family Stone Claire Danes, "he's really charming. He's got a great butt, so there's that too."

SEXIEST RETIREE
Lance Armstrong

Age: 54
Status: Engaged to Sheryl Crow, three children
One for the books: He won his seventh straight Tour de France

Armstrong retired after his last win, but he's still on a roll. There's his weekly radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio, a new cycling-gear line, his work with his cancer research foundation. He's also getting ready to plan a wedding. Here, Armstrong and Crow's thoughts on:

•LOVE

He says: When we finally got together a month after we'd first met, it was probably pretty immediate. She was all over me!

She says: We're like a comedy routine now. It's funny. I knew pretty quickly that I was totally into him.

•ROMANCE

He says: It is pretty romantic to be there for her, be there for her shows, and if her voice isn't feeling so great, I go and get her a cup of tea.

She says: We had a long-distance relationship for about a month, where we communicated through BlackBerry—sort of a throwback to the old letter-writing tradition.

•HIS APPEAL

He says: I'm good at math.

She says: He's really sensual. He's a guy who knows himself well and doesn't have much fear. And he's got a hot body.

SEXIEST GHOSTBUSTERS
Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles

Ages: 23(Padalecki, left) and 27 (Ackles)
Status: Both are single
Supernatural wonders: Padalecki's character is wiser; Ackles's bolder

These two Texans, who play spirit-chasing brothers, seem like they're related for real. Spooky.

Ackles: "I'm a mad Gummi fan. I always have Gummis in my trailer. But you can't eat too many because then you get Gummi tummy, and that's no good. I can't believe I'm saying this."

Padalecki: "I'm always eating candy. Jensen is pissed off that it's not showing yet."

Ackles: "I love the smell of shampoo on a girl's hair. You can walk past someone and be like, 'Wow, you took a shower this morning, didn't you? Because you smell lovely!' "

Padalecki: "I love cookies baking. During the winter they have these candles that smell like cookies, and I always buy like a hundred of them."

SEXIEST DANCER
John O'Hurley

Age: 51
Status: Married
Feet of accomplishment: He waltzed his way to stardom

The winner of this summer's Dancing with the Stars rematch (with partner Charlotte Jorgensen) will join the Broadway cast of Chicago in January. But dancing hasn't just given O'Hurley's acting career a lift—it's done wonders as...

A weight-loss plan: "I lost 25 lbs. In the last seven weeks, we were doing seven days a week, seven hours a day, and my metabolism finally gave in and said, 'All right, I understand—you want to be skinnier.' "

A marital aid: "My wife [marketing-company owner Lisa] thinks I am a rock star! It's brought so much joy to our lives. I know when we are 80, we will be that couple on the cruise ship with this neat little fox trot, and it will be as smooth and as elegant as the first time we did it."

Revenge: "I auctioned off a dance at a charity function and it went for $10,000. I was laughing, going, 'I'm the guy that couldn't get a date to junior prom!' "

An ego boost: "It changed my life. It was a chance at the age of 50 to reinvent my life. It's opened up so many areas. The hips have been unleashed, and now I must use them for good and not for evil! "

SEXIEST COMEBACK
Neil Patrick Harris

Age: 32
Status: Single
My, how he's grown: Our favorite kid doctor returned to TV on CBS's How I Met Your Mother

In the 12 years since Doogie Howser hung up his stethoscope, Harris has starred in theater (Rent, Cabaret, Proof), film (most recently, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) and the short-lived series Stark Raving Mad. Back on the small screen as Barney, a man fixated on "chicks, strip clubs and suits," Harris says he doesn't "go out nearly as much" as his character, but he does admit to a few obsessions of his own:

His car: "I'm a fan of driving. I enjoy time spent in my car. Phone calls, talk radio. I drive a Toyota Prius. I named mine Judas. Judas Prius. Get it?"

Barney's wardrobe: "I'm a jeans and T-shirt guy. But I like the suits. They're giving us a suit budget. It's very exciting. I'm learning a bit about the cuts."

Sudoku: The Japanese number puzzle game "is one level down from opium. You think you'll play it one time and it will be a quick little respite from the business of the day, and then suddenly you need to play sudoku and you can't get up."

SEXIEST MAN IN THE KITCHEN
Bradley Cooper

Age: 30
Status: Single
What he's got cooking: Stars on FOX's Kitchen Confidential

Snooty? Nah, he's a sweetie. But Cooper—in negotiations to appear on Broadway with Julia Roberts in the spring—does have the other makings of a chef. The Georgetown honors grad...

Can read the menu en français: "I was able to study in the South of France for seven months," he says.

Is obsessive: Former manias include vitamin C drops ("My pockets were full of hundreds of plastic wrappers") and the British band Radiohead: "My buddy said he had an extra ticket, so I went right to the airport and got on the next flight to England."

Feels very fondly toward food: "I only know one person who eats more than me. As a kid I used it to get attention. It was, 'Oh, look at how much Bradley can eat. Have another cannoli!' "

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