#Movies & TV
Celebrities Who Played the Perfect On-Screen Love Interest
by Jennifer Lafferty
Some actors have a special gift for portraying someone’s girlfriend or boyfriend. Although there is a danger of being typecast, many actors, including Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston, have largely built their careers playing significant others in romantic comedies and dramas.
Although Tom Hanks expanded beyond the romantic leading man mold years ago, his touching performances in films like Sleepless in Seattle were so well-loved, he has set the standard for other actors in the genre.
A frequent co-star of Tom Hanks is Meg Ryan, whose cute, perky, endearing personality was also perfect for her popular collaboration with Billy Crystal in the classic 1989 romantic dramedy When Harry Met Sally.
Whether he’s playing the passionate Noah in cherished 2004 romantic saga The Notebook, or reformed womanizer Jacob in 2011’s Crazy, Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling lives up to his generation’s vision of an ideal romantic hero.
In most of her film roles, Anne Hathaway projects a warmth and natural girl-next-door quality that translates well to her girlfriend or spouse characters, even when she plays workaholics in movies like The Devil Wears Prada or The Intern.
British actress Minnie Driver proved her range long ago, but some of her most compelling performances are Driver’s portrayals of kindhearted, open, down-to-earth girlfriends in movies like Circle of Friends, Good Will Hunting and Return to Me.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt got an early start playing rom-com boyfriends, with his role as quirky, love-struck teen Cameron, in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You, before his success with 500 Days of Summer and Don Jon.
Described as “America’s Sweetheart” and “Girl-Next-Door”, Jennifer Aniston’s aptitude for playing romantic partners makes sense. She followed up her often romantically involved character Rachel Green on Friends, with impressive performances in many big screen girlfriend roles.
When an actor can make a vampire seem like good boyfriend material, you know he’s special. Robert Pattinson did just that in The Twilight Saga and succeeded at playing love interests in movies like Water for Elephants.
Will Smith’s easygoing charm and “good guy” appeal makes him well suited to play romantic leads, such as a sophisticated date doctor in Hitch, who unexpectedly loses his heart to a feisty journalist played by Eva Mendes.
One actress who seems born to play girlfriend roles is Renee Zellweger, who owes much of her career to her well-loved performances in numerous romantic dramedies such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Jerry Maguire.
At some point we realized that the zany Steve Martin was great at playing fathers, and the same qualities that make him an ideal onscreen dad—his warmth, tenderness, likability and humor—work equally well in boyfriend/spouse roles.
Zoe Saldana makes you look past her stunning physical beauty to her inner radiance, which shines through the most with her love interest roles in movies like Avatar, and co-starring opposite Bradley Cooper in 2012’s The Words.
Even when Steve Carell plays dull, provincial husbands in movies like Date Night and Crazy, Stupid Love, the sensitive, goodhearted, family man persona that comes across in his relationship-themed films convinces us he’s the perfect life mate.
With her playful spirit and unpretentious charm, few celebrities are as irresistible as Sandra Bullock has been in popular rom coms like Two Weeks Notice and While You Were Sleeping, even winning over audiences as a ruthless publisher in The Proposal.
Matthew McConaughey can portray a wide variety of movie boyfriends, bringing a likable quality to each one. The actor is at his best playing essentially good guys with a roguish streak in movies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
From her popular rom-com collaborations with Adam Sandler, to romantic fantasy Ever After, to offbeat dramedy Music and Lyrics opposite Hugh Grant, the always sweet and effervescent Drew Barrymore is an amazing on-screen girlfriend.
With a gift for playing boyfriends who would ordinarily seem too good to be true, John Corbett has convincingly portrayed saintly but sexy boyfriends in movies like 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding and 2004’s Raising Helen.
While Jennifer Lawrence’s characters are a definite departure from the stereotypical girlfriend roles featured in so many romantic flicks, she is compelling in romantic leads, particularly when she’s teamed up with frequent co-star Bradley Cooper.
Colin Firth might be the quintessential onscreen boyfriend. With classic romantic hero appeal, he wowed audiences as Mr. Darcy in a TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but was even more memorable playing Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary.