Monday 5 December 2011

Heroes...A Theory of Evolution

Something I read this week got me thinking about where the looks for my heroes come from. Not their characteristics - those are very much invented by me to suit my story. But the way they look physically. It occurred to me that all my heroes have a certain identifiable 'look'. As in 'those shoes are definitely Louboutins'. 'That hero is a classic 'Charlotte''. Is this true for everyone, I wonder?

All my heroes so far have had the following physical attributes: thick dark hair, chiseled cheekbones, strong jaws, great smile. And as an example I give you the physical inspiration for my current ex-rugby player hero in Honeymoon...Tony Underwood *cough, shows age*.

I'm not saying I'd never write a blond or a redhead, just that it would have to be a conscious decision to do that rather than a natural choice. And having thought about it I now realise that my idea of the perfect man has evolved over time but has nonetheless stuck to the same basic principles. So let's take a trip down memory lane. My memory, to be precise.

Current perfect man (excluding Hubby of course, who interestingly still meets all the above physical attributes). Mr Johnny Depp. Note thick dark hair, jaw, cheekbones, etc etc. Note also facial hair - I will come back to that one later.

Rewind ten years or so and my perfect man was Gabriel Byrne, specifically when he was in The Assassin. Not his best film but I just adored that he loved the heroine but would never compromise her safety by telling her.

Take off another decade and we have the school years pin-up. Michael Praed as Robin of Sherwood. I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall and was convinced I would marry him one day.

Michael's predecessor? Here's where it starts getting interesting. I was about 13. Tom Selleck as Magnum PI. And note the additional physical characteristic, kind of hard to miss. The moustache! Clearly I dropped this requirement in later years, possibly because it was out of vogue, although as noted above, Johnny Depp is definitely a reintroduction of the facial hair element.

And finally...DRUM ROLL...I give you the first public figure I can ever remember deciding was handsome. I must have been about 7 years old. David Wilkie, Olympic swimmer. And the reason I thought he was so gorgeous? Because he looked like my Dad, who had a moustache his entire life and who to me at seven (and possibly still at 38) was the perfect man.

So my perfect man has evolved over 30 years from David Wilkie to Johnny Depp. Hmmmm. Not sure what that says about me except that I have a definite specific physical taste. Can all physical preferences be traced like this? Do we find people attractive because of the colouring or build of a first boyfriend, or a father, or a teenage crush? Would all my heroes have moustaches if they were still en vogue? And will I ever write a blond, lean, athletic hero?

Watch this space...


  1. In my mind's eye all my heroes have the same physical characteristics too, especially when I'm reading another writer's work. Mine pretty much follow the same as yours but without the facial hair - okay, mabye a bit of designer stubble. Tom Selleck was one of my first celebrity crushes and I'm still rather fond of him with or without the moustache! There's only one man that falls outwith the tall, dark and handsome (with thick hair) description that I adore and that's Harrison Ford. He's a fabulous hero whatever role he takes on.

  2. Ah, Johnny Depp, I had pictures of him on my wall as a teenager! I'm a sucker for a slim man with beautiful eyes and killer cheekbones attitude from Morten Harket (my first real crush), through to Johnny Depp and onto David Tennant. Hair colour, accent, job varies but the cheekbones and eyes remain a must.