A list of actors that benefited from showing their body on screen…

‘Magic Mike’, the new movie from ‘Ocean’s 11′ director Steven Soderbergh looks set to consolidate its star Channing Tatum’s power within the industry – coming in the wake of the double-whammy of ‘The Vow’ and ‘21 Jump Street’ – but it also should propel his lesser-known co-stars Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, and Joe Manganiello onto Hollywood’s list of most-lusted-after movie hunks.

Showing a bit of brawny, pumped-up, ab-tastic muscle has been known to turbo-charge the careers of more than one breakthrough movie male in the past. Here are just a few actors that benefited from showing their body on screen…

*Marlon Brando:
He might have been the most revolutionary practitioner of the acting craft back in the day, but it also helped that the then-26-year-old Brando had a burly barrel chest and arms as thick as your legs when he donned that famously tight, sweaty T-shirt in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. It only fuels our fantasies even more to know that Brando was a right randy dog in reality, allegedly trying it on with just about anyone – female or male – he encountered.

*Brad Pitt :
Brad had been spending a few years toiling in US soap operas and little-seen movie shlock before he landed the seemingly tiny role of the hustler who gives Geena Davis her first orgasm in ‘Thelma and Louise’ in 1991. But as soon as Pitt whipped off his top, revealing a stomach so washboard that your grandmother could have scrubbed her frayed knickers on it in times of yore, a global superstar and enduring sex symbol was born.

*Christian Bale/Ryan Reynolds:
Hitherto best remembered as the 1980s child star of ‘Empire of the Sun’, the adult Bale re-introduced himself to audiences by showing off a Men’s Health-cover-ready buff bod playing, erm, troubled New York banker Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’ (2000).
Similarly, genial nice guy Reynolds happily showed off his killer body in ‘The Amityville Horror’ (2005), forcing us all to look at/perve on him in a new light. Both of these guys looked so delicious that it would be almost worth the risk of getting butchered just to cop a feel.

*Eric Bana:
The Aussie actor signalled his hunkish leanings in Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’ (2003), but it wasn’t until the following year that Bana unveiled his fully-blown sex god appeal playing Prince Hector in ‘Troy’. The man was built like a brick sh*t-house to such an extent that he looked like he could use co-star Orlando Bloom as a toothpick, and then use the ridiculous Heather Locklear-esque blonde head of Brad Pitt as a handkerchief to wipe the sweat of his gigantic guns. Nurse, fetch my smelling salts!

*Chris Evans:
Fantastic Four (2005) is never going to be anyone’s favourite superhero movie, but, who knew Evans was packing that muscle underneath his vest? It set the actor up to acquire even more supernatural levels of physique in ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’.

*Gerard Butler:
In 2007, Scottish actor Butler instantly graduated to leading man status when he played King Leonidas in the classical war flick ‘300′. And is it any wonder when Butler was sporting the bulky body of a Spartan warrior that was no mere CGI effect? That was all real, baby. Appealing to women as well as the gays/sexually confused men, Butler had it all. And then he made ‘The Ugly Truth’. A tragedy worthy of the ancient Greeks.

*Daniel Craig:
Let’s save my word count, and just say: ‘Casino Royale’. Skimpy blue shorts. Walking out of the sea. The picture that will forever be used to illustrate profiles and articles about Craig’s career. In fact, go do a Google Image search on it again right now to refresh your memory. Take your time, we’ll wait.

*Hugh Jackman:
We’d all been aware of Jackman’s ripped status thanks to the X-Men movies, but really, his iconic, strip-your-way-to-success moment came in the deranged ‘Australia’ (2008) when he pours a bucket of water all over his manly form in such an erotically-charged way that it even made Nicole Kidman’s immobile forehead twitch. Now that’s impressive.

*Matthew McConaughey:
Already established as cinema’s go-to piece of southern US brawn, McConaughey’s career shifted gears when he whipped his top off in a quick succession of movies like ‘Sahara’ and ‘Fool’s Gold’. Loins everywhere were soon a quiver – and McConaughey has never lost that magic, even if few of his movies ever pack as much of a punch as his whopping musculature does.

*Zac Efron/Taylor Lautner:
The hormonal tweenage girl demographic – along with their natural soulmates, the gays – didn’t know what to do with themselves when these two pretty young things transformed their bodies for respective roles in ‘17 Again’ (and later again in ‘The Lucky One’), and ‘Twilight: New Moon’. Lautner, in particular, went from weedy young lad in the first movie to strapping boy-man by piling on 30 pounds of muscle just to keep the part of teen wolf Jacob in the franchise.

*Bradley Cooper:
Few of our contemporary leading men have benefited as much from putting on the gun show as Cooper. He was sexy in a bad boy kind of way in ‘The Hangover’, but then came the tanned, bare-chested antics in ‘The A-Team’. Suddenly, he’s the sexiest man in the world. Nice work Bradley. Bualadh bos.

*Jake Gyllenhaal:
He’d shown off his acting chops in the likes of ‘Donnie Darko’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’, but when Jake bulked up – and wore very little – in ‘Jarhead’ and ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’, he became known as a fully-fledged swoonsome fleshbag of rippling, deltoid delight.

*Henry Cavill:
You’ve seen last year’s ‘Immortals’, right? If you haven’t, I insist you track it down immediately and just watch it on mute. He’ll be playing an even more strapping Superman in next year’s ‘Man of Steel’. Consider this your flood warning, ladies!

Words : D Cashin

Magic Mike is now showing at Irish cinemas