Raise your hand if you’re a fan of the ’80s! The hot stars who came out of that era had to contend with preppy sweaters, Izod shirts, leg warmers, acid-washed jeans, Members Only jackets, big permed hair – and even bigger shoulder pads on their over-sized blazers. But through it all, they managed to create indelible impressions that they’ve carried with them to this day.
It’s sort of mind-boggling to think that it was some 30 years ago when these good-looking actors and actresses made their stamp in the film and TV world. There are the “Brat Packers” like Rob Lowe and Demi Moore and the action stars like Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise. Then there are the serious actors like Denzel Washington and Jessica Lange, and a few beauty queens like Kim Basinger and Michelle Pfeiffer. Don’t forget the funny guys like Eddie Murphy and John Stamos, either. Regardless of how they got their start, they’ve all held up very well, even with some of them now knocking around in their late 60s.
Without further ado, here are 20 actors and actresses from the ’80s we think are still rocking it hard.
20. BRUCE WILLIS
In 1985, we began to swoon for Bruce Willis when he starred with Cybill Shepherd in the hit ABC series Moonlighting. Playing the wise-cracking and oh-so-cute private detective David Addison, he and co-star Shepherd displayed some mad chemistry that kept viewers glued with the will-they-or-won’t-they scenario – until they did, and then the show went downhill. Regardless, Willis became an instant star, and it wasn’t long before he entered the cinematic stratosphere as an action star in 1988 with Die Hard.
Although there was brief time in the early ’90s when his megastar status faded, he returned with a vengeance with Pulp Fiction, and the actor hasn’t looked back since. To this day, he still commands the screen like the badass he is – and he is still just as sexy as ever. Up next, he’s channeling a little Charles Bronson in a reboot of Death Wish, in theaters November 22.
19. KIM BASINGER
After a few TV guest spots in the ’70s, Kim Basinger got her big break starring in the 1980 TV miniseries remake of From Here to Eternity, and when she landed a Bond girl role in the 1983 Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery’s last Bond movie, the actress got more than a few hearts fluttering. But it was Adrian Lyne’s 1986 movie 9 ½ Weeks that really turned up Basinger’s hot factor. Her sexual energy with co-star Mickey Rourke is off the charts, and the film is still considered one of the most erotic movies (that’s not porn) ever made.
Basinger’s mix of gorgeous looks and some decent acting chops led to memorable performances like Vicky Vale in Batman, Eminem’s mom in 8 Mile, a grieving woman in The Door in the Floor – and a call girl in the excellent L.A. Confidential, which earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Kim’s been working steadily and was last seen in this year’s sequel Fifty Shades Darker, as the “older” woman who taught Christian Grey everything he knows about sex. Yeah, that’s not a stretch.
18. LISA BONET
The lovely Lisa Bonet will forever be in our hearts as Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show and its spinoff, A Different World. But Bonet longed to shed herself of the wholesome teenager and college student she played for so long, and did so in the supernatural thriller Angel Heart in 1987. She even engaged in an explicit sex scene on screen with co-star Mickey Rourke. Rumor has it that TV dad Bill Cosby was very upset with the then-19-year-old for doing the provocative movie and fired her from The Cosby Show. Oh well.
Bonet has taken some hiatuses throughout her career to raise her family, but she’s certainly kept one foot in the industry. Her most recent appearance onscreen came in Ray Donovan last year, playing an unstable sibling to one of Donovan’s clients. She and husband Jason Momoa, who is set to enter the DCEU as Aquaman in the upcoming Justice League, make an unbelievably hot couple.
17. JENNIFER BEALS
In 1983, Flashdance was a huge hit, sparking fashion styles (torn sweatshirts and leg warmers) and starting a craze in the new era of MTV and music videos. This was all due in large part to the film’s charismatic and spunky star, Jennifer Beals. She made it look so easy and fun to dance your ass off, weld things, and seduce sexy older guys while knocking back some lobster.
Beals never quite followed up with mega movie stardom, but instead found more success on television, including starring in the provocative Showtime series The L Word for five seasons, during which Beals’ sexy attributes were certainly highlighted. This year, she starred in the new drama series Taken (word is still out on second season), and there are plans to possibly reboot The L Word with Beals and other original cast members returning. We’re definitely looking forward to that.
16. MICHELLE PFEIFFER
Michelle Pfeiffer‘s first role was as the “Bombshell” in the short-lived series Delta House, based on the film Animal House, but she proved to be much more than just a gorgeous face over the years. Her real break came when she starred as the epitome of an ice princess in the 1983 Scarface, and things skyrocketed from there. With Witches of Eastwick and Married to the Mob, Pfeiffer showed off her comic chops; she simmered with Mel Gibson in Tequila Sunrise; and played a sultry Catwoman to Michael Keaton’s Batman in Batman Returns. She’s also picked up three Oscar nominations for her wonderful turns in Dangerous Liaisons, Fabulous Baker Boys and Love Field.
The actress has taken a few brief hiatuses in her career, but this year has been a big one for her. She starred with Robert De Niro in the HBO film The Wizard of Lies and will star in a new version of the Agatha Christie classic Murder on the Orient Express opening November 10. But we are particularly interested in seeing her work in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming horror film mother! Pfeiffer looks particularly seductive and menacing in it. Yep, she’s still got it.
15. EDDIE MURPHY
Eddie Murphy simply hit the ground running in the ’80s. Coming off his huge success on Saturday Night Live, the handsome funnyman owned comedies of the era, slaying them on the big screen with action films such as 48 Hours, his crowning achievement, Beverly Hills Cop, along with straight-up laffers like Trading Places, Coming to America, and his stand-up concert movie Delirious.
In the ’90s, he had some misses when he tried playing the romantic lead in movies like Boomerang. Murphy certainly had the sex appeal to pull it off, but it seemed like fans wanted him to be more like The Nutty Professor or Dr. Dolittle. Murphy’s golden touch faded even more, with his only real hits after that being movies that featured his voice (Mulan, Shrek), but he showed his mettle once again with his Oscar-nominated performance in Dreamgirls in 2006. It was recently announced that there’s going to be a fourth Beverly Hills Cop, so we’re pretty excited to see an older but still hilariously adorable Axel Foley.
14. MATT DILLON
Matt Dillon was the fresh face on the scene when he starred as the hunky love interest in Little Darlings in 1980, and he never really looked back from there. His next string of ’80s films showcased his dark good looks and aw-shucks sensibilities in films like Tex; the thug life in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders and Rumble Fish; and too damn cute in The Flamingo Kid.
Then, in 1989, Dillon got a chance to prove his chops when he starred in Gus Van Sant’s gritty Drugstore Cowboy, and the actor has gone to star in some truly underrated movies since, such as To Die For, Beautiful Girls, Grace of My Heart. Comedies aren’t out of bounds for him either, having proved himself in hits like Singles and There’s Something About Mary. And least we forget the spicy crime thriller Wild Things – oh yeah, one of Dillon’s highlights in the kinky department. Next up, Dillon will star in the upcoming Lars von Trier horror thriller The House That Jack Built.
13. JOHN STAMOS
Any General Hospital fan will fondly remember John Stamos as Blackie Parrish, the street kid who charms his way into the hearts of the Port Charles denizens. With the role (and a few other guest TV spots), Stamos also instantly became a heartthrob of Tiger Beat proportions, so he was already ahead of the game when he co-starred in the hit family series Full House, which ran from 1987 to 1995.
He went on to more TV fame, including a stint on ER, and he has had a few misses as well (most recently, his show Grandfathered, which only lasted one season). He also joined Scream Queens in its second season, but that series is also now defunct. No matter, Stamos will land in something else soon – and look super sexy in it.
12. ANGELA BASSETT
Angela Bassett got her start in soaps in 1985 with a small role in Search for Tomorrow, and continued taking guest spots on series like The Cosby Show, 227, and thirtysomething. She also had a few one-season only shows, including the Spenser for Hire spinoff series, A Man Called Hawk. The actress also got some notice starring as Cuba Gooding Jr.’s mom in Boyz in the Hood.
Bassett found her groove soon enough. She starred as Tina Turner in the biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It, earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and showed off her crazy sex appeal in Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
Nowadays, of course, she divides her time between movies and TV and is one of Ryan Murphy’s go-to actresses for his American Horror Story anthology, in which she has played any number of seductive and badass women. We swear Bassett has not aged a day since we first saw her. Next up, she’ll be seen in the upcoming Black Panther and will be joining the cast of Mission: Impossible 6 after that.
11. SUSAN SARANDON
Susan Sarandon made her mark in the 1975 cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but she really hit her stride in the 1980s, starting with her Oscar-nominated performance as a wannabe blackjack dealer in Atlantic City. Sarandon mixes her inherent sensuality with sharp intellect to inhabit many characters, including the sensuous Annie Savoy in Bull Durham, who heats things up with Kevin Costner (more on him below). It was definitely her standout role of the era.
Of course, Sarandon has had a long and illustrious career in film. After being nominated four times (she should have won for Thelma & Louise), she finally picked up an Oscar for Best Actress in 1996 for her turn as an empathetic nun counseling a man on Death Row in Dead Man Walking. The actress recently wowed audiences playing Bette Davis in the TV anthology series Feud, and guest starred on Season 5 of Ray Donovan.
10. BLAIR UNDERWOOD
The handsome Blair Underwood got his start doing guest spots on TV and a stint on One Life to Live before he landed a great role on the hit long-running hit series L.A. Law playing Jonathan Rollins, a Harvard law graduate who joins the bustling L.A.-based law firm in Season 2.
Underwood has done a few movies (Deep Impact, Rules of Engagement) but has pretty much stuck to the small screen throughout his career. He has a ton of shows under his belt, including series like Dirty, Sexy Money, The Event, Ironside, and more. He’s played really romantic parts in shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine and Sex and the City, wooing the women big time. Currently, Underwood stars in the CIA drama Quantico, which is set to return with Season 3 in 2018.
9. LEA THOMPSON
If you ask a guy who grew up in the ’80s who his star crush was, there’s a decent chance that Lea Thompson will be their reply. In films like All the Right Moves and Red Dawn, she represented the sweet, comely girl-next-door type — a loyal girlfriend who’s more than capable of being tough when she has to be. Thompson truly broke out, however, with Back to the Future, playing Michael J. Fox’s mom at various ages. She even made it into a John Hughes movie with 1987’s Some Kind of Wonderful. And no, we won’t hold Howard the Duck against her.
Thompson has had a solid career since the ’80s, finding her next big success with the TV series Caroline in the City in 1995, which ran for four seasons. Currently, she plays a mother whose teenage daughter isn’t really her biological child in the popular teen show Switched at Birth, where Thompson definitely makes a suburban mom look good.
8. JESSICA LANGE
Like her pal Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange began her career in the 1970s, making her feature film debut in the 1976 remake of King Kong. The fetching actress didn’t receive the best of reviews for her work, but it wasn’t too long before she started turning heads with her voluptuous looks and deep sultry voice. She and Jack Nicholson fogged up the screen in a remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (another memorable sex scene for the history books), and in 1982, she gave two distinct performances – as the beautiful soap star in Tootsie and as doomed actress Frances Farmer in Frances. Both turns earned her Oscar nominations, and she won Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie.
Lange has had an amazing career. She received six Oscar nominations so far, winning two, for Tootsie and one for Best Actress for Blue Sky. She has also won three Emmys, two for her work in the American Horror Story anthology series – and she might win another Emmy for her portrayal of Joan Crawford in Feud. And boy, does she still sizzle. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
7. JOHNNY DEPP
Johnny Depp made his onscreen debut in the 1984 horror film Nightmare on Elm Street (and was promptly swallowed by his bed), but with his hit TV series 21 Jump Street, he entered ’80s teen heartthrob status with his dark, smoky eyes, floppy hair, and moody disposition. If there was anyone who ever wanted to get rid of that status, however, it was this guy, who, as soon as he possibly could, went into an entirely new direction with his career: he teamed up with director Tim Burton. First up was the 1990 Edward Scissorhands and, really, Depp never gave his smoldering, sexy looks another thought.
Of course, no matter what wild and weird character Depp has played, he cannot completely hide being incredibly handsome. We think Captain Jack Sparrow pretty much encapsulates this – quirky and drunk but still sexy as hell. Next up for the actor is joining Michelle Pfeiffer in Murder on the Orient Express, among other projects.
6. DEMI MOORE
Demi Moore followed John Stamos’ pattern and got her first break as investigative reporter Jackie Templeton on the soap General Hospital. With her exotic dark looks and sultry voice, Moore’s character was one that fans loved to hate. When she ended her run on GH, she became a member of the ’80s “Brat Pack” when she starred in the ensemble fav St. Elmo’s Fire, followed by About Last Night with Rob Lowe.
When she starred with Patrick Swayze in the romantic drama Ghost, however, she cemented herself in movie stardom. Some of her more stellar films include Mortal Thoughts, A Few Good Men, Margin Call, and Indecent Proposal, and then of course there are the roles that showed off her amazing body like Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Striptease. Most recently, Moore had a juicy supporting part in the comedy Rough Night and is doing a guest appearance on Empire, which premieres September 27.
5. KEVIN COSTNER
Kevin Costner began his career with small roles in movies like Night Shift and Chasing Dreams, but his big break was supposed to be in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill – except Kasdan ended up cutting all of Kevin’s scenes (he played Alex, the guy who kills himself, in flashbacks). Promising to make it up to him, Kasdan gave Costner a fun part in his Western Silverado, and a star was born. The ’80s were very good to the oh-so-handsome Costner and included some of his best films, like No Way Out, Field of Dreams, and Bull Durham. Be still our hearts.
Costner would go on to bigger fame, namely winning a few Oscars for Dances with Wolves, but after he starred in the expensive flop Waterworld in 1995, things went a bit downhill for the actor. He continued making movies, but nothing really hit. Then, in 2005, he returned to form in The Upside of Anger, and received some of his best reviews to date. Most recently, he starred in last year’s sleeper hit Hidden Figures and will be seen next in the drama Molly’s Game and the TV series Yellowstone.
4. TOM CRUISE
What would the ’80s be at the movies without a little Risky Business or Top Gun? Tom Cruise had done a few films before these monster hits, including The Outsiders and Taps, but these two seminal films certainly made Cruise the mega movie star he is today. Top Gun particularly showed just how hot Cruise really could be when he took off that shirt and played volleyball. Wowza. Other Cruise movies we love? Rain Men, A Few Good Men, Jerry Maguire, Collateral – and his Oscar-nominated performance in Magnolia.
Nowadays, Cruise is still an action machine, naturally, and just as charming as he can be with his mega-watt smile. Of his most recent movies, Tropic Thunder and Edge of Tomorrow stand out – and all the Mission: Impossible movies, of course. Up next, Cruise will star in American Made, about a pilot who gets in with the CIA and the drug trade, and is currently filming Top Gun 2.
3. DIANE LANE
Diane Lane started her career as a child actress, playing a young tweener in love in the excellent A Little Romance. Then in the ’80s, she joined co-star Matt Dillon as the girl-next-door type with a rebellious streak in Coppola’s films The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, and showed off her sex appeal as a red-hot singer in Streets of Fire.
Her next string of films didn’t do much to accentuate her sensual side – not until the 1999 A Walk on Moon about a ’60s housewife who has a steamy affair with a drifter (Viggo Mortensen) while on vacation. Boom! Lane found a niche for herself, playing married women who have torrid affairs. Her best and sexiest role? Unfaithful. The chemistry between she and co-star Olivier Martinez is palpable, as is her connection with Richard Gere, who plays her husband.
To this day, Lane still has it. Her most recent role in Paris Can Wait sees her having a romance with her husband’s associate. Next up, she stars with Liam Neeson in Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, along with reprising her role as Martha Kent in Justice League.
2. DENZEL WASHINGTON
Denzel Washington is on the list of movie stars who got their start in TV (George Clooney, Bruce Willis, Michael J. Fox – also on the list). In the ’80s, Washington played Dr. Philip Chandler on the hit hospital drama St. Elsewhere, which ran six seasons, and he definitely had a strong female following.
Denzel made a few movies while still on the show, including the excellent A Soldier’s Story and Cry Freedom (which earned him his first Oscar nomination), but once St. Elsewhere ended, the actor became a bonafide movie star. He won his first Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) pretty much straight out of the gate for his turn in the Civil War drama Glory and just continued churning out first-rate performances in any number of genre films, from action to drama to thrillers. He won his second Oscar for Best Actor playing a real bad cop in Training Day – and can we just say he looked damn good doing it? Up next, Washington is starring in the drama Roman J Israel, Esq.
1. ROB LOWE
Rob Lowe makes the top of our list as the one ’80s star who is most definitely still steamy AF. First of all, as sort of the leader of the “Brat Pack” in the ’80s, Lowe was almost too pretty, with his tousled hair and deep blue eyes. He had them swooning in films like Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire, Youngblood, About Last Night… – and if you were a teenage girl, you absolutely had his famous pin-up poster on your wall.
Somehow, Lowe has only gotten better looking as he has aged. After the ’80s, he made a few movies, but found more success on television. He starred in the hit show The West Wing and then later on Brothers & Sisters, before he found his comic chops when he joined the cast of Parks and Recreation. Lowe has had a few misses since then, including his short-lived sitcom The Grinder, but he’s landed on the new medical drama Code Black, now heading into its third season.
Don’t worry, folks, those blue eyes aren’t going anywhere.
Did we miss your favorite ’80s star who is still as hot as ever? Sound off in the comments!
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