Vintage Hunk: Jeremy Northam

By: Mike McCrann

At 34, Jeremy Northam was at the height of his beauty and talent in 1996 when he starred as Mr. Knightley opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma, which is still the best film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel.

Born in 1961, Northam always wanted to be an actor and trained at the Bristol Old Vic. His big break came when he replaced Daniel Day-Lewis in a 1989 production of Hamlet. He won the prestigious Olivier Award the following year for "most promising newcomer." More stage and TV work followed, and he was particularly good in the fascinating three-part British miniseries A Fatal Inversion, in which he had a full-frontal nude scene that certainly didn't hurt his growing gay fan base.

Jeremy Northam tried making American films, like The Net with Sandra Bullock, but none of them were very good. Northam's British films, however, are a different story: An Ideal Husband, The Winslow Boy, the spy drama Enigma with Kate Winslet, and especially Gosford Park, in which he played real-life gay British movie star Ivor Novello, were all wonderful, and superstardom should have followed.

Unfortunately, Northam's Hollywood foray did not pan out. Duds like Gloria with Sharon Stone drove him back to Great Britain, where he continued to get great roles in good films. He also had a major part as Sir Thomas More in the fabulous Showtime series The Tudors. Northam was at always his best in period films; the beautiful period clothes showcased his dark, handsome looks brilliantly.

Jeremy Northam turns 52 this year, and while his glamour roles may be in the past, he's still a sexy man. If you want to see Northam at his very best, rent, or buy Emma. It's a great film and no Jane Austen hero — including Laurence Olivier! — was ever sexier.

Below is a shirtless scene with Northam and Parker Posey in 1998's The Misadventures of Margaret. Enjoy!