20 Nerdy Actors Who Became Hollywood Heartthrobs (PHOTOS)

20 Nerdy Actors Who Became Hollywood Heartthrobs (PHOTOS)

Just because our favorite handsome actors frequently play love interests or superheroes doesn't mean they've always taken on such roles. In fact, many of these Hollywood hunks got their start playing the nerdier guys.

These 20 actors went from adorkable to just plain dashing.


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  • Patrick Dempsey


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    Before he was McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey was bribing the most popular girl in school to date him in 1987's Can't Buy Me Love—and he's only gotten better with age.

  • Nicholas Hoult



    This X-Men actor may have been a nerdy kid when he starred alongside Hugh Grant in About A Boy, but he's grown to be one of our favorite action stars.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt


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    Before 10 Things I Hate About You and (500) Days of Summer, JGL was playing a nerdy alien in the body of a teenage boy on Third Rock From the Sun

  • Jonathan Lipnicki


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    Playing adorkable child star roles in both Jerry Maguire and Stewart Little, Jonathan Lipnicki has grown up and bulked up. He will be playing a football hero in the upcoming thriller The Lake.

    More from The Stir: What 10 'Dowdy' TV Actors Look Like in Real Life (PHOTOS)

  • Jessie Eisenberg


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    With his breakout role in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg rose to fame with his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. But he's since broken out into different types of roles—including a seemingly romantic part in an upcoming untitled Woody Allen film.

  • Andrew Garfield


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    Also starring in The Social Network, Andrew Garfield went straight from playing a tech guru to nabbing the part of Spider-Man.

  • Alfred Enoch


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    This How to Get Away With Murder star may now play a smart and sexy law student, but you probably first saw him as the dorky, enthusiastic Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films.

  • Josh Hutcherson


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    Before he stepped foot into the Hunger Games, Josh Hutcherson had a number of big roles as a child actor—including the part of the sci-fi-loving kid Walter in Zathzura

    More from The Stir: 10 Famous Actors Who Look So Much Hotter In Real Life (PHOTOS)

  • Paul Rudd


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    He may have recently taken on his most action-powered role as Ant-Man, but Rudd got his big break with a more bookish character in Clueless. Though he may have ended up as a romantic interest in the 1995 film, his character was a lovable nerd.

  • Josh Peck


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    While he played the geekier brother on the Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh, Josh Peck grew up to be a suave actor, now starring on Grandfathered with John Stamos.

  • Brian Austin Green


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    After playing dorky musician David Silver on 90210, Brian Austin Green later went on to play a former soldier in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and cool guy Sean Healy on Anger Management.

  • Matthew Lewis


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    Who wasn't surprised when little Neville Longbottom showed up for the last Harry Potter film looking so dashing? Matthew Lewis has moved on from his dorky days to playing a soldier in the BBC series Bluestone 42.

    More from The Stir: 20 Supporting Actors Who Stole the Movie Spotlight (PHOTOS)


  • Anthony Michael Hall


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    He may have been "the brain" in The Breakfast Club, but Anthony Michael Hall eventually made his way out of geeky typecasting, notably as psychic Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone.

  • Chris Pratt


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    This Parks and Recreation star went from playing the dweeby but cute Andy Dwyer to buffing up for Guardians of the Galaxy in just a matter of months. Now, the goofball is a bona fide action hero.

  • Evan Peters


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    Before American Horror Story, this actor was on the Disney Channel. He played the nerdy, bowtie-loving Seth Wosmer on Phil of the Future.

  • Ryan Gosling


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    While The Notebook easily made Ryan Gosling one of our favorite romantic stars, one of his first major films, a low-budget film called Frankenstein and Me had the actor playing something different: an easily-scared kid who tried to help his best friend bring a monster to life.

    More from The Stir: 10 Gorgeous Actors Who Morphed Into Ugly Movie Characters & Wowed Us (PHOTOS)

  • John Cho


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    This actor made a name for himself as dweeby Harold Lee in the Harold & Kumar films, but more recently he took on the part of the leading man in the short-lived sitcom Selfie.

  • Tom Hiddleston


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    While this Brit may be a heartthrob as Loki in the Avengers films, he wasn't always so powerful on-screen. One of his first roles was the awkward missionary Bill Hazeldine on the British comedy Suburban Shootout.

  • Val Kilmer


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    Just a year before Top Gun and a decade before Batman, this actor played a major brainiac in the science-filled 1985 film Real Genius

  • Logan Lerman


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    While this 23-year-old actor may be most known for playing the super-powered title character in the Percy Jackson films, he got his start as the environmentally conscious, owl-loving Roy Eberhardt in Hoot.

    More from The Stir: 20 Male TV Actors From the 90s Who Are Hotter Than Ever (PHOTOS) 

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