And yet, I sat in the dark theater and felt a planetary pull toward him. I went all hot and melty during a scene in which he did little but stare at his love interest, a mysterious smile flickering on his lips. The movie was hypnotic, strange, but I noticed myself noticing him: The fit of his tight jeans, the arch of an eyebrow, tongue tracing over lip.
I knew this actor provoked strong feelings in people. Not long ago, an email circulated among the culture writers at work. “I really really do not like his face,” one declared. But I knew another staffer had nursed an enormous crush on him for years. She, I suspected, could explain the mystery of his charms.
“I actually have thought about this a lot,” she replied to my email. “I believe he’s the perfect romantic hero ... in need of rescuing.” As his roles toggled between romantic underdog and tragic figure, he uncorked in her an angsty teen’s longing to save him, as if only she could spy the goodness in his troubled heart.
There was something unsatisfying in trying to analyze my attraction to him, like reducing music into binary code, the throb in the groin to simple blood flow. I had every reason to dislike the actor, but I could not. He had won me over. I had been seduced. Him, he was just doing his job.