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25 Hottest Sex Symbols of 2014

From ‘Broad City’ babes and ‘Gone Girls’ to James Franco’s little bro and the man channeling Christian Grey, the year’s sexiest stars

Gigi Hadid and Theo James

Gigi Hadid and Theo James

Albert L. Ortega/Getty; Anita Bugge/Getty

In 2014, the Sex Symbol became an endangered species. Future Hall of Famers George Clooney and Brad Pitt took on challenges that will inevitably age them (marriage, starring opposite Shia LaBeouf), former Rated Rookies Elizabeth Olsen and Chris Pratt graduated beyond best-kept-secret status and the kottage industry known as Kim Kardashian somehow found a new way to define "overexposure."

In short, nature's seemingly endless supply of Sex Symbols has come to a crucial choke point, and we are in dire need of a new crop of good-looking folks to fill our rapidly thinning ranks. Luckily, 2014 provided us with plenty of potential recruits – actors, athletes, musicians and models (there's always models) that made an indelible mark on the year, and had us feeling, well, feelings. 

Jamie Dornan

DUBLIN, IRELAND - APRIL 05: Jamie Dornan attends the Irish Film And Television Awards on April 5, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Phillip Massey/WireImage)

Phllip Massey/Getty

Jamie Dornan

He might not have been the first choice to play Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey (he famously replaced Charlie Hunnam in the role), but the Irish actor and model is definitely the best choice. Why? Well, he's hot – and based on fan reaction to the first Grey trailer, that's about all you need. If the film is a hit, Dornan could be 2015's breakout star; if it's a flop, well, he can always go back to being super handsome. He wins either way.

Dave Franco

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 19: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) American actor Dave Franco poses during a photo shoot at the QT Hotel on November 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Tim Hunter/Newspix/Getty Images)

Newspix/Getty

Dave Franco

While his brother James gets all the headlines (and endorsement deals and threats from North Korean leaders), Dave has quietly carved out a rather sizable niche for himself with roles in films like Neighbors, the Jump Street series and The Lego Movie, an oversized Internet presence and (no shit) his card-throwing skills. For his efforts, he was recently named "International Man of the Year" by GQ Australia, and with a spate of anticipated films due next year – including the raunchy comedy Unfinished Business and a sequel to Now You See Me – 2015 could be the year he fully steps out from his brother's shadow.

Cary Fukunaga

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) 66th ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: "True Detective" Director Cary Fukunaga poses in the NBC/People photo booth during the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theater on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Larry Busacca/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)

Larry Busacca/NBC

Cary Fukunaga

In 2014, the 37-year-old director added meditative breadth and foreboding depth to HBO's True Detective, creating an insular world for writer Nic Pizzolatto's hard-bitten characters to stew in – and espouse existentially about. In the process, he gave crime dramas a shot in the arm, and helped a flagging medium not only bar the streaming wolves from the door, but keep pace with the big screen, too (how about that tracking shot?) But that's all film-school prattle; more importantly, to those in the know, Fukunaga remained "smokin' hot."

Mike Hadreas

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 27: Perfume Genius performs on stage at Islington Town Hall on November 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images)

Burak Cingi/Getty

Perfume Genius

As Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas has laid his life bare, releasing two albums of introspective (yet invective-laced) indie pop. But in 2014, Hadreas played the role of the extrovert, releasing the aptly titled Too Bright, a sensual, self-realized record that features him spitting lines like, "No family's safe when I sashay" and sporting a skin-tight, rhinestone-studded tank top. That none of it is played for shock is testament to his talents; that would be too easy. Instead, Too Bright is Hadreas' Declaration of Independence – and confidence looks good on him.

Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson

Mike Pont/FilmMagic

Broad City

They're cable's coolest chicks. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson brought Broad City from WTF web series to breakout hit in 2014, and they did it without losing a single weed joke. Of course, they also used Comedy Central's budget to shoot a fake Drake video, hit the road on an epic wedding episode and throw a killer Hurricane Sandy party, proof they get maximum bang for the buck. Glazer is the perma-stoned, sexually adventurous yin to Jacobson's uptight, vision-board yang, but theirs is the kind of sisterhood needed to survive in a place like New York City. With new episodes of Broad City set to premiere next month, who knows where their relationship will go — but we can't wait to find out. 

Shakey Graves

GEORGE, WA - MAY 24: Alejandro Rose-Garcia of Shakey Graves poses for a portrait backstage on day 2 of Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater on May 24, 2014 in George, United States. (Photo by Steven Dewall/Redferns via Getty Images)

Steven Dewall/Getty

Shakey Graves

The rumpled, rakish singer/songwriter (real name: Alejandro Rose-Garcia) spent a few years in Los Angeles working as an actor – he had a recurring role on Friday Night Lights – before returning to his hometown of Austin, Texas, and making a name for himself with his music. As Shakey Graves, he spins sparse yarns of love and loss – replete with requisite Stetson – though, as anyone who caught his set at this year's Newport Folk Festival will surely tell you, he also looks pretty good in a suit.

Gigi Hadid

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 23: Model Gigi Hadid arrives for the 42nd Annual American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Gigi Hadid

Sure, she's got the good genes (her mom is former model/current Real Housewife Yolanda Foster), but in 2014, the 19-year-old model stepped out on her own, showing up in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, stealing the show at New York Fashion Week and appearing in ad campaigns for Tom Ford. And all while studying at NYC's New School and maintaining an on-again, off-again relationship with singer Cody Simpson. Someone get this girl a reality show of her own.

Boyd Holbrook

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Boyd Holbrook poses for a portrait during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival at the WireImage Portrait Studio at the Village At The Lift Presented By McDonald's McCafe on January 21, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Larry Busacca/Getty

Boyd Holbrook

He's an actor, director, writer, model, photographer and sculptor – a résumé so loaded it earned him "hot polymath" honors from InStyle magazine (and they know their polymaths). But with turns in The Skeleton Twins and Gone Girl, the 33-year-old Holbrook proved that he's more than a mere multi-hyphenate, and he'll look to build on that momentum in 2015 with roles in Little Accidents and the Netflix original series Narcos. Oh, and he's engaged to actress Elizabeth Olsen, which shows he's got good taste, too.

Theo James

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 01: Actor Theo James attends the 'Die Bestimmung - Divergent' Germany premiere at Sony Centre on April 1, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Anita Bugge/WireImage)

Anita Bugge/Getty

Theo James

He set hearts aflutter as the hunky lead in Divergent, though the 30-year-old actor is more than just another YA face. After studying at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in his native England, James displayed his comic talents in The Inbetweeners Movie and tried his hand at drama on series like Downton Abbey and Golden Boy. He's also got a degree in philosophy and used to play in a London band called Shere Khan. As if your girlfriend needed any more encouragement to covet him.

Kendall Jenner

Justin Tallis/Getty

Kendall Jenner

Kim Kardashian may have broken the Internet in 2014, but her half-sister Kendall had the better year. As part of a new wave of so-called "social media models," she stalked runways in New York, Milan and Paris, launched a line of shoes and handbags with Steve Madden and spent an inordinate amount of time with Cara Delevingne, which is sort of like a celebutant rite of passage. Sure, the Kardashian affiliation helps, but Jenner seems determined to do things on her own terms.

Nick Jonas

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14: Nick Jonas speaks onstage during KISS 108’s Jingle Ball 2014, presented by Market Basket Supermarkets at TD Garden on December 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Taylor Hill/Getty

Nick Jonas

The erstwhile Jonas finally kicked his long-gestating solo career into action in 2014, and he did it the old-fashioned way: without a shirt. He's always been the beefiest Brother, so his transformation to genuinely jacked dude wasn't all that shocking; but his newfound swagger – evident in his hit "Jealous" and the ab-riffic lyric video for "Teacher" – certainly was. In a year where several of his contemporaries tried (and failed) to make the leap to adult pop, Jonas put the "man" in Manifest Destiny.

Carla Juri

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 09: Carla Juri attends the Lola - German Film Award 2014 at Tempodrom on May 09, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)

Franziska Krug/Getty

Carla Juri

In Wetlands, she turned in one of the year's most oddly engrossing (and oddly gross) performances as Helen, a teenager obsessed with – as the New York Times put it – "her body, in all its secreting glory." The film (and the book it's based on) delighted in flipping off cultural norms, and so did its 28-year-old star. As she explained to Rolling Stone, "Sex is not erotic if it's sterilized," and boy, did she take that to heart in the film, masturbating with produce and proudly proclaiming to have "very healthy pussy flora." It may sound shocking, but Wetlands is also required viewing – just make sure to bring a few wet wipes.

Kevin Love

INDEPENDENCE, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers attempts a free throw during a practice at The Cleveland Clinic Courts on September 30, 2014 in Independence, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

David Liam Kyle/Getty

Kevin Love

For years, the NBA forward (and nephew of Beach Boy Mike Love) toiled away in the wilds of Minnesota as the only star on a series of terrible Timberwolves teams. Of course, publications like GQ noticed – but it took a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers in August (where he joined forces with LeBron James) to make the general public pay attention. While he may have sacrificed solo-star status in the hopes of winning a championship, Love can find solace in the fact that he's the hottest player in the NBA. Sorry, Swaggy P.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, winner of the Best Actress award, poses at The Moet British Independent Film Awards 2014 at Old Billingsgate Market on December 7, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for The Moet British Independent Film Awards)

David M. Benett/Getty

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Don't feel bad if you missed her in 2014's Beyond the Lights – everyone else did too. Which is a shame, since the 31-year-old Brit shone bright as pop-star-in-peril Noni Jean, bringing unexpected depth to a role that forced her to act alongside rapper Machine Gun Kelly. That's nothing new to audiences in the U.K., who came to know her on BBC shows like Spooks and Doctor Who, and were wowed by her starring, startling turn in the film Belle. Here in the U.S., she's poised to break big in 2015 with roles in the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending, the legal thriller The Whole Truth and an untitled Will Smith drama. Better learn how to pronounce her name now.

Randall Park

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: Actor Randall Park attends the Premiere of Columbia Pictures' "The Interview" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown LA on December 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kevin Winter/Getty

Randall Park

Sure, he can never set foot in North Korea, though that's a small price to pay for landing a role in the year's most controversial film. As Kim Jong-un in The Interview, Park's comedic chops were pushed to the brink, though anyone who caught him on The Mindy Project or Veep knows he was up for the challenge. Up next, Park will star as the patriarch of a Taiwanese family on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat – meaning that 2015 could be even bigger, though hopefully not in terms of international incidents.

Nate Parker

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: EXTRA interviews Nate Parker at Westfield Century City on October 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images for Westfield)

David Buchan/Getty

Nate Parker

It's good he quit his day job: Parker was working as a computer programmer when he was discovered by accident at talent search in Dallas – he swears he was only there to support a friend – and within a week, he had moved to Los Angeles in the hopes of making it big. After a decade spent finding his feet in films like The Great Debaters and Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer, the 35-year-old Parker stepped up to leading man status this year in Beyond the Lights (alongside fellow 2014 Sex Symbol Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and the indie ensemble piece About Alex. More importantly, he also learned the finer points of badassery from Liam Neeson in Non-Stop, which should serve him well as he continues to make his own way in Hollywood.

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

Vera Anderson/Getty

Rosamund Pike

More than a decade after she was a Bond girl, in 2014 Pike shocked audiences – and won raves – as David Fincher's Gone Girl. Sure, casting a relative unknown opposite Ben Affleck was a risk, but Pike relished the role, turning in a performance that was cool, coital and conniving. Gone Girl would become a worldwide smash, and Pike appears to be a lock for an Oscar nom. . .more proof that sometimes, it pays to take risks. And a testament to the power of the perfect "resting bitch face."

Eddie Redmayne

British actor Eddie Redmayne poses arriving at the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London on December 9, 2014. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Justin Tallis/Getty

Eddie Redmayne

If you haven't yet seen his remarkable turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, what are you waiting for? In the role of his young career, Redmayne – a former model – underwent a total transformation, wracking his body into the confines of Hawking's condition. Yet, his performance was more than mere misery; like the famed physicist, he maintained a mischievous grin throughout, hinting at the currents surging beneath the still waters. Sure to be a contender come awards season, Redmayne has remained cool throughout his rise – though, after a role so taxing, maybe he's just recuperating.

Gina Rodriguez

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 10: Actress Gina Rodriguez arrives at the 2014 NCLR ALMA Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on October 10, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty

Gina Rodriguez

The former soap standout shattered the glass ceiling in 2014, becoming the first star of a CW show to score an acting nod at the Golden Globes for her starring role on Jane the Virgin. Like the show, Rodriguez has been a genuine joy to watch throughout her rise, and now that the rest of the world is catching on – welcome to the party, Lena Dunham! – it looks like the sky's the limit for this talented actress and dancer.

Tinashe

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - DECEMBER 06: Singer Tinashe performs at a holiday concer at 5 Towers Outdoor Concert Arena on December 6, 2014 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Michael Tullberg/Getty

Tinashe

As part of the ill-fated girl group the Stunners, she survived touring with Justin Bieber and the machinations of the music business, so when the 21-year-old singer had the opportunity to go solo, she ran with it. After dropping a trio of mixtapes, Tinashe punched the clock at the DJ Mustard hit factory and scored a crossover smash with "2 On," which led directly to her acclaimed debut album, Aquarius. Like fellow breakout star FKA Twigs, she's been tapped as the future of R&B, though she prefers to take inspiration from the genre's past – namely, its flirtation with dance music in the late Eighties and early Nineties. You know, before she was born.

FKA Twigs

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 25: FKA Twigs performs on stage at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on September 25, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images)

Burak Cingi/Getty

FKA Twigs

In her former life as Tahliah Barnett, background dancer, she logged time in videos for Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J. But after releasing a pair of EPs as Twigs – a nickname she earned from her fellow dancers because of the way her joints cracked – then adding the "FKA" (formerly known as) after another artist claimed the name, the 26-year-old Brit stepped directly beneath the spotlight. And, with her acclaimed debut LP1, she became 2014's brightest new star, working with collaborators like Arca, Dev Hynes and Paul Epworth to create a hushed, sensual sound all her own. Oh, and she also started dating some dude named Robert Pattinson, whoever he is.

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