Read, watch and sigh over literature's leading men turned film hunks

M invites you to swoon over our choices for the most irresistible literary males as they have been portrayed in films.

Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is a swoon-worthy film adaptation of author Stephenie Meyer's popular vampire character.
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Many of us first fell in love with a literary hero, be it Darcy or Robin Hood or Romeo, and the best of them come alive on the big screen. M magazine invites you to swoon over our choices for the most irresistible literary males as they have been portrayed in films.


from The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, and the 2006 film of the same name

Gogol is the archetypal ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi). And in his case, the confusion about his roots and sense of identity is compounded by his unusual name. Gogol Ganguli’s father has chosen this name for his son to mark an event from his own past, but Gogol himself grows up loathing it. Played by Kal Penn in the film, Gogol finally comes to terms with himself, and his name that is an essential part of his being. Penn plays the character to perfection – somewhat vulnerable, totally self-absorbed, yet capable of making the audience empathise with him.

Charukesi Ramadurai, contributor


from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and several films of the same name

Ever since I first read Wuthering Heights at the age of 15, I have been in love with Healthcliff. There is no rational explanation for this. The man is a monster, cruel and vengeful with barely any redeeming qualities. But his love for Cathy, his swarthiness and his passion, as well as the fact he was so badly treated as a child, make women fall for him. The screen incarnations have been many, but I am enraptured by Tom Hardy in the ITV adaptation that was screened in the UK in 2009. He looks, sounds and acts like I always imagined Heathliff would, "a source of little visible delight, but necessary", as Cathy tells Nelly in the book.

Helena Frith Powell, editor


from Devdas by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, and the 2002 film of the same name

In the last haunting scene of the film Devdas, the actor Shah Rukh Khan, who plays the title character, lies on the ground, dying, just outside the mansion of his beloved, Paro, who is now married. The fact that a man would pine for his beloved and die in the process is the stuff of a woman’s fantasy. With his white kurtas, understated emotions and sad soulful eyes, Khan played the role of a jilted lover with the complexity the part deserved – sometimes childish, sometimes angry, but always exuding the pathos that the author Chattopadhyay intended for his hero.

Shoba Narayan, contributor


from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 1985 TV film of the same name

I was 13 when I first watched Anne of Green Gables. I loved the protagonist, Anne Shirley (Megan Follows), and saw something of myself in her mischief and imagination. But it was her classmate Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) who stole my heart when he pulled Anne's red hair and called her "Carrots", triggering her fury. I made myself believe that had Gilbert (or Crombie) pulled my hair and called me a name, I'd have reacted positively, because his looks and charm were so captivating. I later decided that the way Gilbert admired, respected and sacrificed for Anne would be the perfect standard to employ in finding a husband. It was a good decision. I was 17 when I finally read L?M Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables and it was a joy to have Crombie's Gilbert in my mind's eye.

Ellen Fortini, page editor


from The Iliad by Homer, and the 2004 film Troy

I was seduced at university by Achilles "of the swift feet", a powerful, fearless warrior, proud and headstrong, the defiant and exciting male protagonist of Homer's Trojan War myth The Iliad. In the 2004 film adaptation, Troy, Brad Pitt plays Achilles, who knows he will die young if he pursues his thirst for glory. Pitt, with his dance-like fighting techniques, vast strength and arrogant allure, is captivating. His  impulsiveness, armour and scenes of honour, love and hate had me smitten.

Jemma Nicholls, senior editor


from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and the 2011 film of the same name

The way Rochester (Michael Fassbender in the film) woos Jane (Mia Wasikowska) is so romantic it makes my knees weak. Despite their differences in class, Jane doesn’t take any notice of this. She also believes in being able to provide for herself. Rochester lies about his past (his forced marriage to Bertha Antoinetta Mason) to Jane. As I am a hopeless romantic, I understand why he does it. He is afraid to lose her forever.

Tina Chang, photographer


from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, and the films in the saga beginning with the 2008 film Twilight

A teenage vampire is not an obvious choice, but this brooding, passionate romantic is deadly and perfect. After a century of honing his considerable intellect, Cullen is a linguist, musician and scholar, so those endless nights spent together would be an education. And since he is forever 17, his sparkling six-pack will never sag with age, and his golden eyes will never fade but only darken with desire (and maybe bloodlust). Shucks, I’d even hunt with him.

Elizabeth Pearson, contributor


from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baronness Orczy, and the 1982 film of the same name

It was those blue eyes, set within the actor Anthony Andrews’s chiselled features, that caught my attention as an 8-year-old. But what sank me were his daredevilry, his brain and his bravery. I’ve been looking for him ever since.

Zee Gilmore, contributor


from Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and several films and mini-series (but none that stands out)

Charles Bovary is the boring, safe husband. Emma, his wife, wants more: passion, money and excitement. When the book was published in 1856, many French women thought it was based on them, but Flaubert wrote: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi!”. Charles Bovary adores his wife, and cares for her and their child. Blind to her faults, he gives her everything he can. In the end, she destroys him. The story touches me on many levels. We all want more and can be blind to the good in front of us.

Lisa Burke, contributor


Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm (1812), an adaptation of Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force (1698), and the 2010 Disney film Tangled

Prince Eugene is my favourite prince. He is funny and has a nice horsey called Maximus. I like the story because Rapunzel has long golden hair and lives in a big tower.

Lyra Wells, age three

Mark Antony
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

James Bond
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Jason Bourne
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Rhett Butler
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Mark Darcy
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Jay Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Prince Hamlet
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Tom Jones
The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling by Henry Fielding

Romeo Montague
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Jean Valjean
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Vicomte de Valmont
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

Captain Frederick Wentworth
Persuasion by Jane Austen