There are many men called Chris in the world, and a significant portion of them seem to have done well for themselves in Hollywood, but there are only four Chrises for whom the official Hollywood Chris List applies – Evans, Hemsworth, Pine and Pratt. Four men of comparable stature, both physically and in terms of their fame, who would all end up side by side in an audition room or crime-scene line up should calls go out for handsome, 30 something white dudes who seemed just special enough.
Hollywood likes to try and make certain people happen. From the inexplicable It Girls deemed hot by sheer merit of media persistence to the beefcakes of the day whose faces are interchangeable and personalities questionable. If Sam Worthington isn’t to your tastes then no worries, wev’e got Taylor Kitsch on standby? Not a fan of him either? Jai Courtney, come on down! Hey, Scott Eastwood, you’re apparently a thing now, want to be on Jimmy Fallon? In an age where the A-list is an increasingly abstract concept, and the IP sells more tickets than the star’s name below the title, it seems as though this assembly line of leading men in waiting have shorter shelf lives than ever. Yet we have four Chrises, all of whom have fully defined themselves, and so they must be ranked.
The Hollywood Chris List has a series of arbitrary rules decreed through a combination of societal expectations, industry shifts, public relations prowess and my own fluctuating subjectivity. There is no calendar date for list re-evaluations, nor are public opinions relevant. Sometimes a haircut can change your position, while other times it may just be about who I find better looking on that particular day: Between Hemsworth’s never-hotter look in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer to Pine’s unfortunate haircut, it’s been a time of aesthetic fluctuations. Relationships sometimes make a difference – Jenny Slate did a lot for Evans’s standing – but often it’s focused on their careers. When Hollywood finally realized Hemsworth was funny, his stature exploded, while Pine thankfully finding his character actor niche in Into The Woods and Hell or High Water helped him escape the bland leading man ghetto his type so often find themselves stuck in. Did you slag off Trump? You get to move up the list.
The list can inspire major debate amongst my friends, and therein lies the challenge. You can’t please everyone – especially Pratt fans, sorry – but what you can do, and what the list acts as, is offer a microcosm into how Hollywood treats men, women, bodies, whiteness, class, talent, and societal expectations.
Being a Chris is the epitome of Hollywood privilege. In an industry where muscled studs are ten a penny, when you look like that and the general public can actually remember your name, your seat on the throne is secure. Flop movies won’t hurt you because the guaranteed hits soar to stratospheric levels. Whether you’re Star Lord, Captain America, Thor or James T Kirk, that name is enough to keep you going through dry spells, under-performing passion projects and DUIs. Scandal will not stick, and your opinions always matter.
Each Chris has a specific appeal, one that’s broad enough to reach the widest demographics possible but still special enough to keep the most ardent fans hooked: Evans is the frat boy done good, the guy who can throw the best party ever but really just wants to curl up on the couch and hear about your political opinions; Hemsworth is the Aussie hunk and not-so-secret nerd, the guy who loves the work but couldn’t take himself seriously if he tried, and the antics of his extended family are just off-kilter enough to avoid Instagram clichés; Pine is the dark horse, the one too easy to under-estimate because he’s too Disney Prince in appearance, but just beneath the surface are undiscovered layers that beg for exploration; and Pratt is the grown-up goofball, the good old boy of snarky charm and earnest love of the old fashioned ways. Who do you desire, why do you desire them, and why does the world make you want to desire them?
Everyone has that moment when they realise their favourite celebrity isn’t perfect, and the Chris List is a means to deal with the barrage of human issues that so often get in the way of old-school fangirlism. Pratt’s stature diminished greatly for me with the exhausting privilege – including his recent comments on “blue collar” representation in Hollywood – and throwback masculinity that feels an ill fit for 2017 (not to mention the issues with his pets). Evans took a hit after the Tom Brady defences. Hemsworth was in a solid series of flops that only highlighted how much a woman in similar circumstances would not be offered second, third or further chances. The Chris List is all about cultural anxieties, and occasionally real anxieties, as witnessed with Evans.
Grading men seems juvenile, and I have been criticized for the reductive nature of it, but I think about the ways in which women are graded for every aspect of their lives, and diminished to fractions of themselves against their male co-stars in Hollywood. Half the screen-time, half the pay (if we’re lucky). I think of how these women have to be so much younger than their male counterparts, especially if they’re to play romantic partners, because while men’s sexiness only ripens past 35, women are already on the scrapheap by then. The Chrises have their own blockbusters to headline, time and time again, while the women will be lucky to have a few lines of “be careful, honey” on the sidelines. The industry fetishizes men like Chris, and even 3rd rate imitations of them, while women of equal or greater talent wait to be deemed acceptable, so I think these four gentlemen can tolerate being graded on the internet for a little while longer.
Currently, the list is pretty stagnant, with little movement between the top two, but change is inevitable, or at least it is in reality, outside of La La Land where progress remains disappointingly incremental. Your taste in Chrises says a lot about you, about the world and about men, and there’s so much to talk about when we talk about Chris. Of course, mostly we just talk about sex.
CURRENT HOLLYWOOD CHRIS LIST RANKINGS:
(All Chris List placement decisions are final until the next re-alignment. I don’t care about your opinion, these are the right ones).