Reminder: The Sexiest Man Alive Used to Play Comedy Dorks
High fives to Patrick Dempsey for finally being named Sexiest Man Alive. “I’m glad it’s happening at this point in my life,” he told PEOPLE (although you’d think a decade of people calling you McDreamy would have been enough of an ego boost to last a lifetime). “It’s nice to have the recognition, and certainly my ego takes a little bump, but it gives me the platform to use it for something positive.”
Here’s what’s positive for you comedy nerds out there — if it could happen to Dempsey, it could happen to you. Don’t believe me? Remember, young Patrick Dempsey was not considered hunk material either. In fact, his first starring roles in Hollywood — back when he weighed about 85 pounds — cast him as a huge dork.
His first role in the Catholic comedy Heaven Help Us? Dempsey played virginal dweeb Corbett, the most naive kid in parochial school. Andrew McCarthy and Kevin Dillon got all the girls — Dempsey didn’t stand a chance.
Next up at the movies: Meatballs III: Summer Job. This was a big step up for Dempsey, landing the lead role as Rudy, the kid from the original Meatballs now sort of grown up as a counselor. There is no question that Rudy is a prototypical dork — the guy wears horn-rimmed glasses so he must be a regular Melvin. Once again, Dempsey is a virgin, a role that he would play throughout the 1980s. The movie’s plot was ridiculous even by teen sex comedy standards, with Sally Kellerman as a dead porn star sent back to earth by the angels — if she can get nerdy Rudy laid, she gets into heaven! The priests from Heaven Help Us wouldn’t approve.
What was up next for the Sexiest Man Alive? That was 1987’s Can’t Buy Me Love. Once again, Dempsey donned huge plastic glasses to let us know he was unathletic, socially awkward, and absolutely unworthy of sexual attention. You know, 1980s Dempsey.
The plot was all kinds of problematic, with Dempsey’s Ronald Miller using the money he’s earned mowing lawns (a cool thousand dollars!) to convince cheerleader Cindy, the most popular girl in school, to pose as his girlfriend for a month. Yep, the Sexiest Man Alive had to pay a woman to be with him — and even then, she only pretended when the other kids were around. Roger Ebert hated it, of course, recognizing even back in the 1980s that “Cindy is, of course, being asked to be a prostitute, in soul if not in body.”
But Can’t Buy Me Love was on to something, at least when it came to the career of Patrick Dempsey. Invest enough time in hanging with the cool kids — say, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy? — and pretty soon, everyone will think that you’re cool as well. They might even vote you Sexiest Man Alive.