The Hot List

UPDATED 11/29/2010 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/29/2010 at 01:00 AM EST

1985 MEL GIBSON

1986 MARK HARMON

1987 HARRY HAMLIN

1988 JOHN F. KENNEDY JR.

1989 SEAN CONNERY

1990 TOM CRUISE

1991 PATRICK SWAYZE

1992 NICK NOLTE

1993 RICHARD GERE & CINDY CRAWFORD

1995 BRAD PITT

1996 DENZEL WASHINGTON

1997 GEORGE CLOONEY

1998 HARRISON FORD

1999 RICHARD GERE

2000 BRAD PITT

2001 PIERCE BROSNAN

2002 BEN AFFLECK

2003 JOHNNY DEPP

2004 JUDE LAW

2005 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

2006 GEORGE CLOONEY

2007 MATT DAMON

2008 HUGH JACKMAN

2009 JOHNNY DEPP

GEORGE CLOONEY

"The sash you have to wear, that is embarrassing," joked the two-time recipient after his win in '06. "There's pressure to remain sexy. That's why I do a lot of cosmetic work."

1995 & 2000 BRAD PITT

"It's flattering; it's all nice and good fun," says Pitt of his two-time reign as Sexiest Man Alive. "But I did get a lot of jokes from friends about it. All you can do is laugh, but Clooney and I brag about it all the time."

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

2007 MATT DAMON

"You gave an aging suburban dad the ego boost of a lifetime," Damon wrote in a letter to the magazine. But the actor felt the honor was "a mantle I wasn't meant to hold." Still, he added, "My wife now knows she's married to almost the Sexiest Man Alive."

2002 BEN AFFLECK

Guess who seconded Affleck's sexiness at the time of his win? He's "tall, dark and handsome," said Jennifer Garner, his then Daredevil costar and current wife. "He's it."

THE SEXY MAN WAR OF WORDS

Brad Pitt (on getting his second nod, to Clooney's one): "I tried to tell him, if he wants it, he needs to write in, he's gotta send gifts, he's got to go after it."-on a Barbara Walters special, 2001

George Clooney (after his second win): "[Brad Pitt] was a little upset this time too because it really sort of knocked his thing down a notch."-on the Late Show with David Letterman, November 2006

Ben Affleck (after his win): "It was a little embarrassing for me because Matt Damon lobbied so hard for it."-on the Today show, December 2002

Matt Damon (prior to receiving the honor): "Clooney's been trying to campaign for me; it's a whisper campaign."-on the Today show, August 2007

Voted by PEOPLE.COM Readers

SCREEN IDOLS

SEXIEST MAN OF ALL TIME!

2003 & 2009 JOHNNY DEPP

The low-key Depp said of his two titles, "That should be someone else; that confuses me beyond recognition. I don't know how to react. I thought it was a joke." Countered his pal director Bruce Robinson: "He's a confident man. He knows exactly who he is."

2005 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

The leading man with the surfer vibe joked that he could let himself go after earning the title. "Now I've made it," he said at the time. "Wait until you see the roles I could take after this. You're going to see my gut hanging over, plus 22 lbs." But five years on and countless shots of him shirtless on the beach later, McConaughey's still got it.

SCREEN IDOLS

1990 TOM CRUISE

"His smile is a little off, nose a little off," Rain Man producer Mark Johnson told PEOPLE of the budding movie star at the time. "But it's the sum total."

1996 DENZEL WASHINGTON

"I don't remember the moment, but stuff like that is just gravy on the food," says Washington of his SMA moment. But the actor has always been reluctant to acknowledge his sex-symbol status. "That's for others to decide," he says, adding, "It's nice. I was happy that they chose me."

GONE TOO SOON

1988 JOHN F. KENNEDY JR. 1960-1999

1991 PATRICK SWAYZE 1952-2009

1998 HARRISON FORD

"Why this sudden outpouring for geezers?" asked the then 56-year-old Ford about his status. "I never feel sexy. I have a distant relationship with the mirror."

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME...

1985

2010

1985 MEL GIBSON

In July his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, accused him of domestic violence and had tapes of his verbal abuse.

1992

2002

1992 NICK NOLTE

The actor received three years' probation and a fine for a DUI. "It was kind of a wake-up call," he later said.

50-PLUS

1999 RICHARD GERE

"It's insane; it's ridiculous," said Gere in '07, as he looked back on the honor. The actor earned his title at age 50 and was also part of the only "Sexiest Couple Alive!" in 1993 with then wife Cindy Crawford.

1989 SEAN CONNERY

The news that he had been chosen Sexiest Man Alive was delivered to the then 59-year-old actor by a phone call to his home in Costa del Sol, Spain. Connery's response? "For once, I'm speechless. It'll all be downhill from here!"

INTERNATIONAL SEXINESS

2008 HUGH JACKMAN

Jackman Weighs In on the Pressure of Being Sexiest Man Alive

"When I was named Sexiest Man, at first I thought-in that Australian way-I'm not going to take this too seriously," says Jackman. "But it's taken very seriously! What shocked me was the worldwide difference it makes. I was in Milan with my wife, right in the middle of putting on weight for a new movie, and everybody there knows me-a little bit from Wolverine but mainly as Sexiest Man. While I was tucking into my second tiramisu, people looked at me like, 'What's happened to that guy?!' There is a bit of pressure that comes with it, but I'm forever grateful."

INTERNATIONAL SEXINESS

2004 JUDE LAW

The Brit took the humble approach to his title. "I have to stand by what I always say when I get bad reviews," he told Katie Couric on Today. "Don't believe what you read in the press."

2001 PIERCE BROSNAN

The Irish actor let his Thomas Crown Affair costar attest to his sexiness. "He's genuine, he's gorgeous, and he's also funny-like Cary Grant," said Rene Russo.

'80s TV ICONS

1986 MARK HARMON

"If other people think I'm okay looking, that's great," said the St. Elsewhere star at the time. "But I don't see it myself. When I look in the mirror, all I see is a bunch of fake teeth and football scars."

1987 HARRY HAMLIN

The former L.A. Law star looks back at his sexy milestone

"It was very new at the time; it had started a couple of years earlier. I didn't even know the Sexiest Man Alive title existed, so getting picked was a shocker. I thought, 'Is PEOPLE magazine taking acid?' But nobody ever gets called that because it's a joke. It's a small club. I happen to think Clooney is the Sexiest Man Alive. I have known George for a long time, and on all levels he's a great guy. But as for me, I don't think about it anymore ... except of course when I run into the other members of the club and we rib each other.

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