The funny thing about falling hard for that fine actor you see on the screen is that you don’t really know anything about the man. He’s all fantasy, full of courage and swagger or vulnerability and charm.
But what if you found out that the sexiest man on the big screen wakes up every morning and carpools three kids to school, or that the most fearless guy on cable is terrified of rusty nails? Would it make you love him even more? Here some of our favorite actors reveal that they’re full of offscreen surprises.
Name: Idris Elba Age: 31
Status: Will only say he has a beautiful 2-year-old daughter.
Breakout Role: The quietly intimidating Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s The Wire.
His Take on Stringer: “With that role, there’s a fine line between being a gangster and being an intelligent Black man. But Stringer’s a ruthless murderer, and you can’t deny it.”
Up Next: Starring in an as-yet-untitled feature about the Rwandan genocide.
What Makes Him Cringe: Rust. (As a child he scraped his arm on a dirty nail and almost died.)
His Little Secret: “I have a foot fetish. I guess it’s because you never see a woman’s feet unless they’re wrapped around your shoulders.”
Name: Carl Lumbly
Status: Married for 18 years to the actress Vonetta McGee. (They have a 14-year-old son.)
Catch Him: As CIA director Marcus Dixon on ABC’s Alias.
What He’ll Say in a Fit of Anger: “Son of a biscuit!” (Carl Lumbly does not curse. Ever.)
First Impressions: Lumbly met McGee while they were playing a married couple on Cagney & Lacey in 1984. “After our first date, I was smitten. But she said, ‘I’ve never gone out with a guy who wasn’t hip,’ meaning, of course, that I wasn’t.” She married him anyway.
Name: Delroy Lindo
Hometown: Lewisham, England
Status: Married since 1990 with a 2-year-old son.
Credentials: Lindo, who began his acting career onstage, has appeared in more than 30 films, including Crooklyn, Get Shorty and The Cider House Rules. This year he goes independent with Wondrous Oblivion, set in London in the 1960’s.
How to Pique His Interest: Compare notes on how you potty-trained your toddler.
Industry Beef: “It’s a major problem that we don’t see Black folks in romantic roles more frequently. I’m not talking about sex objects. I’m talking about a Black man and a Black woman being romantic with each other.”
Name: Blair Underwood
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Status: Married nine years with three kids.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Underwood, who sizzled as Miranda’s love interest on last season’s Sex and the City, had his first movie break as a record exec in the now-classic Krush Groove.
Up Next: The independent film How Did It Feel?
How He Starts His Day: Driving the kids to school.
What Black Women Told Him About the Whole Miranda Thing: “Most sisters I talked with were happy that Blacks were finally being represented on the show. The other reaction was, ‘How many times are y’all gonna kiss?’ ”
Name: Michael Ealy
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland.
Status: Very single, no kids (and for the record, he prefers older women).
Breakout Role: Ricky Nash, the bad boy trying to do right in Barbershop
Up Next: Never Die Alone with DMX.
Before He Was a Star: “I used to sell storm windows door-to-door. I wasn’t really good at it. If the person didn’t want one, I would say, ‘Cool. See ya later.’ ”
In His Spare Time: Ealy travels to New York to study with his acting coach and visit family.
Secret Skill: He’s an ace at Ping-Pong.
Name: Mathew St. Patrick
Status: Single but “not looking.” (He has an 8-year-old son.)
Breakout Role: As Keith Charles, the gay former cop on HBO’s Six Feet Under.
Captured on Film: St. Patrick once played a swimsuit model on a daytime soap wearing only an itty-bitty brief.
Secret Skill: Ballroom dancing.
What He Says About Keith: “It’s one of the first times where you have a gay man on TV who is not being laughed at. Many sisters say to me, ‘Thank you for doing this,’ and then tell me about their gay brother, uncle or son.”
Is He or Isn’t He Gay? Honey, he’s an actor and he can be whatever you want.