There is a prevailing wisdom that men get better as they get older. They grow wise, often more interesting; even more often, they grow better looking.
Let’s call this theory Rudd’s Face.
Kind-eyed actor Paul Rudd started life as the soft boy cum demi-incestuous love idol of Clueless’ Cher and now, twenty years on, Rudd’s edges have become frayed and grizzled, like his face were a beloved denim jacket. He is no longer “I mean, I guess he’s kinda cute?” Paul Rudd; no, now he is Objectively Handsome Paul Rudd.
As Antman he was a 15 millimeter-high heartthrob. In Knocked Up, he was the deadbeat hipster dad who men wanted to be and women wanted to be with, despite being a notably terrible human, because he had the shining, mysterious eyes of a young Robert De Niro and the hair of Superman. It was like someone shoved an identifiable human personality into the buffed husk of Henry Cavill, turned the cheekbones down by three and the plaid shirts up by four. I’m not kidding: Rudd’s a fucking darling now.
It’s something men have clung to for years, a kind of biological hubris: No matter what life throws at me, when the salt-and-pepper hair hits and these laughter lines start coming in… Oh, buddy. I’m in. Myself included, I’ve thought fondly of my advancing years as the ageing of a cheap fizzy wine into something rich people fawn over at parties.
But for others, time has not been kind. Leonardo DiCaprio has gone from aesthetically perfect angel boy drowning next to a door to the puffy lad drooling over women half his age standing in front of a billboard of himself in a fur coat getting his insides outed by a CGI bear. Is this his curse for refusing to act his age? Is Lady Luck just another woman Leo humped-and-dumped?
Two men, two sides: good and bad. The fit and the fucked. But what of culture’s current crop of OHM (objectively handsome men)? What if we could see into the future, see how personal history and fate would tool their cheeks, landmarks into their porcelain skin? Does seeing the future change it? Is Harry Styles gonna look proper dead when he’s all old and that?
We will find out, using that FaceApp everyone has downloaded and will forget about in a week. It’s not an exact science but damn it, it’s the best hope we’ve got.
Good to know that teen vampire turned mildly-received art house mainstay Robert Pattinson grows into David Lynch eventually. That’ll be a good fit for the inevitable, fifteenth series of Twin Peaks that everyone will say they just, like, loooved but nobody will actually watch. It’s a testament to Rob’s cut-class facial geometry and factor 50 sunblock that he will do so well later in life.
I guess time will not be kind to divisive heartthrob Bieber, here looking to make his third comeback with an ill-advised dancehall concept album with a recently released-from-prison Vybz Kartel. It’s doomed from the start and he crumples on stage before dragging himself into a public bathroom to die. A man cannot survive on Palace drops and banana Nutrament alone.
Anyone who knows which one is Chris and which is Liam without Googling is a damned liar but the lesser Hemsworth remains a distinguished-yet-forgiving grandparent in his later years, with a sparkle in his eye that somehow says “I mow the turf of my local school football team on Sundays” and “I’m not allowed back to the local church mixer because the vicar’s wife tipped over a punch bowl trying to make-out with me” simultaneously.
The more handsome and successful of the Hemsworth Brothers grows old very gracefully, somehow fine-tuning his skull shape into a work of art. He ends up looking like Clint Eastwood if Ol’ Squint was into sit-ups and juice cleansing instead directing overwrought melodrama and somehow ever-more-disappointing identity politics.
Donald just somehow looks even more disappointed with how things have turned out. This app is a crystal ball and it’s telling us that America is fucked, isn’t it.
This is what happens when your style is pegged too close to the cuff of modern pop-culture: one day you’re just going to straight-up fall off, leaving you looking like Roy Hodgson came back as an already-elderly dinner lady. Years of running from screaming hordes of women have worn away all the elasticity from Harry’s countenance, his face sinking towards the floor like a witch who’s gone out and left the cauldron. Time is an aberration and it’s gonna take a lot more than a questionable hair-washing routine and some silk scarves to style this out one.
Now we’re talking. This one’s about growing old disgracefully but having the natural charisma and shit-hot genetics to pull it off. Picture the scene: Zayn takes the disappointing performance of his debut album to heart, disappears for a few years and reinvents himself as French New Wave icon with a forty-Gitane-a-day cig habit and that kind of wrinkly chest you can only get from living topless on a yacht in Monaco for thirty-five years. His second album, released in 2051 called Zayn In My Heart is a charming-if-a-little-slow collection of swing classics. Every person in the whole world buys it because they all want to bang him. And they’d be right.
You know how Jack Nicholson still sleazes after women at the Oscars even though he’s 91 and everyone’s like “Oh, Jack! What a card!”? Well, really old Zac Efron is never allowed back to the Oscars after the 127th Academy Awards show where he tried to show a woman his I-still-got-it six-pack and one of the implants blew, totally destroying a nearby cronut concession and with it, everyone’s chill.
He looks great. This is the one where you remember that a good face is a good face, even when the skin hanging off it is all weird and dead. The silvering of his hair make Gosling look a bit like a disgraced American senator but that’s a look that everyone will be going for in future years: the best any of us can hope for.