Flavorwire Staffers On Their First Movie Star Crushes


Movie star crushes: we’ve all had them, though some are certainly more embarrassing than others. And as comically far-fetched and silly as they may be, there’s something winsome and almost pure about the very first time you crush on a movie star, perhaps before you’re even fully aware that they live in protective bubbles and literally walk through this world on pillows filled with angels’ tears. But I’ve never forgotten mine, and when I polled my Flavorwire colleagues, I found many of them still fondly recalled theirs. (Feel free to add yours in the comments, as long as we’re all confessing.)

Daryl Hannah, Splash

It was the hair that did it. Given what I know about myself now, as a seven-year-old, Daryl Hannah’s mermaid character — named Madison after Madison avenue, and taught English via department store TV sets — likely wooed me more with her hair than with anything else. What seemed a crush soon became something more bizarre and inexplicable: a crush on, er, crimping. Yes, it is the fault of this film that I owned a Barbie with wavy hair that I’d run through water obsessively to capture that ghostly shimmer as it billowed through the sink/tub/whatever. It was the fault of this film that I put my own long hair in tiny braids so that, the next day, it, too, would be wavy like Madison’s. For a while, I thought it was love: and indeed, I was enamored of the character’s surprising firmness despite the foreignness of her situation (I mean, I was seven, so maybe that’s a stretch). But ultimately, I realized, it was a desperate longing for a crimping iron. I got one; then, luckily, soon got over it. —Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Jonathan Taylor Thomas, The Lion King, Man of the House, and Tom and Huck

Though I had recently renounced Disney movies as babyish, I couldn’t resist The Lion King when it came out a few months before my tenth birthday. In my defense, I saw it for a very grown-up reason! Like just about every other girl in my fourth-grade class — particularly my best friend at the time, who wrote him letters — I suffered from a nearly debilitating crush on the actor who voiced its adolescent feline protagonist: Jonathan Taylor Thomas. We knew him as the middle son from Home Improvement, and from the PG-rated pornography of magazines like Bop and Teen Beat. As his heartthrob status grew, Hollywood realized that tween girls would make their parents buy them tickets to literally any movie starring JTT (as he was known to true fans). Unfortunately, he never made another movie as good as The Lion King—but I happily sat through the awful Chevy Chase comedy Man of the House and ill-conceived Twain riff Tom and Huck anyway. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Never mind Boyhood — Harry Potter did the “aging onscreen” thing before it was cool. Which meant that, over the Harry Potter cinema franchise’s ten-year, eight-movie lifetime, leading man Daniel Radcliffe remained a perfectly appropriate, crushworthy age for this young audience member. My attraction to DanRad didn’t start until the third installment, which I’d like to think is linked to the movies’ steep uptick in quality and thus my eleven-year-old self’s excellent taste, but I’ve found the combination of the actor himself and his association with the books that made me, well, like books irresistible ever since. Also, his Trainwreck cameo was adorable. –Alison Herman, Associate Editor

Jack Haley, The Wizard of Oz; Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire; Chris Sarandon, Fright Night

My very first childhood film crush is the weirdest, yet the reasons are totally innocent. The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz had kind eyes and sang about longing to find love and sharing his heart with the world. I thought it was incredibly romantic and wanted to give him my heart.

When I was still too young to read Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire as abusive and self-destructive, I saw the character as wildly passionate. Brando was a force of nature, and nobody looked better in a grungy t-shirt.

Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandrige in Fright Night was totally believable as the sexy vampire next door. As an adolescent horror fan, I thought he was a babe. Sure, he abused knitwear as a fashion statement and had a feathered hairstyle that screamed of the 1980s (I didn’t see Fright Night until the ‘90s, so this was really uncool), but Jerry was that older guy you crushed on from afar — and wished would turn you into a vampire so you could live forever. He was seductive and charming, but his snarky sense of humor and provocative smirk suggested there was something more to his personality. –Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Jessica Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and while I want to say Princess Leia, I have to admit seeing Star Wars predated any conception of having a crush on someone — I just thought Carrie Fisher was super cool, which, of course, she is. But no, I fear my first actual movie crush was none other than… Jessica Rabbit. This is even more ridiculous because I’m pretty sure I never even saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? back in the day — I just bore witness from afar to visions of this absurdly gorgeous cartoon redhead and felt all funny inside, the same way I did when I first heard Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.” Go ahead and laugh — it’s not like you never tilted your 10-year-old head to see if you could look up a two-dimensional cartoon dress. What? Oh. –Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Paul Newman, Exodus

I am going to gloss over some obvious generational touchstones (Cartoon prince Aladdin, Macaulay Culkin in his cute phase, Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet) to share my most embarrassing and amusing early movie crush. In sixth grade at my Jewish day school, the students were rambunctious as we approached graduation, infected with a sort of early pubescent version of “senioritis.” Our teachers were desperate to keep us from destroying the classrooms, and so in order to pacify us and tie our exploration of the Holocaust into our lessons about Israel, they showed us the 1960 Zionist epic Exodus. Imagine a classroom half-populated by 12-year old girls discovering Paul Newman’s blue eyes, and you’ll understand the nature of this crush. Later I realized that the film was “problematic” propaganda, at best, but thankfully, there have been plenty of other films featuring young Paul Newman to take its place in my heart. –Sarah Seltzer, Editor-At-Large

Kate “Acid Burn” Libby (Angelina Jolie), Hackers

I want to emphasize that my crush was not on Angelina Jolie but on the fictional character Kate Libby, whose “handle” was Acid Burn. Unappeasable almost to the point of spite, culturally iconoclastic, good at “hacking” and coding, a competitive player of unreleased video games, anti-authoritarian yet collective-minded, skilled at writing clever literary quotations on a chalkboard, vaguely “around” — this was more than enough for me in 1995. I watched Hackers probably fifty times. –Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor

Drew Barrymore, Firestarter

First of all, to get any oogy impressions out of the way right off the bat: mine was an age-appropriate crush, seeing’s how Ms. Barrymore shares my birth year (in fact, she’s nine months my senior). My seven-year-old self first took note of her in E.T., where her girl next door charm certainly swept me off my tiny feet, but it was in Firestarter that my feelings for Drew were truly set (wait for it) aflame (sorry). It wasn’t just that she was a cute blonde with a chip on her shoulder—a particular type that would make an impression on my young psyche, and I’ll leave it at that—but seriously, she could set things on fire with her mind. That’s the kind of girl you wanna have on your team. –Jason Bailey, Film Editor