Jude Law

11/17/2004 at 10:00 AM EST

Jude Law
"He's the most beautiful man who ever walked the earth," says Naomi Watts.
Glenn Weiner/Stargaze

Jude Law

Jude Law

On a crisp October night, a crowd of smitten socialites flocked to Manhattan's hip Soho House for an invitation-only screening of Alfie and – for the cherry on top – a glimpse of its star. "It was like a casting call for Desperate Housewives," says Debbie Bancroft, a society columnist for Avenue magazine, who had just celebrated a special occasion. "I went up to him and said, 'You want to give me a little sugar for my birthday?' He leaned in and gave me a soft, sweet kiss on my cheek. I was in heaven." Law's costar Marisa Tomei witnessed the encounter "and arched her eyebrows at me," recalls Bancroft. "I said, 'I'm shameless, aren't I?' and she said yes." Bancroft didn't care: "I walked away covered in goose bumps."

It's all in a day's work for this year's Sexiest Man Alive, who leaves even talk show hosts tongue-tied. Kelly Ripa took a long, lusty look at Law when he appeared on Live recently and sighed, "It's alllll good." Oprah Winfrey demanded, "Just say it, Jude. Say, 'I am dashing.' " And Ellen DeGeneres informed Law that "when men go to plastic surgeons to get their lips redone, your lips are the most requested." Then she made him sit still while she traced the outline of his mouth on a TV screen.

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