The Internet never forgets, but at the same time, our collective attention span can be a little short—remember when everyone was in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt? (Is that mean? It feels mean.) All that is to say, that while Internet Boyfriends Oscar Isaac and Rami Malek are still going strong, it never hurts to assess the potential future Internet Boyfriends waiting in the wings. After all, you never know when some It Guy is going to fall from grace after pulling a Twiddleston.
It’s a good year for Mahershala Ali, who’s put in time on TV and in supporting roles for years (remember him in season one of Alphas? Anyone?) and is finally starting to get some of the attention a man of his gosh-damned talent deserves. He turned in great supporting performances in well-regarded indie Kicks and awards contender Moonlight, out this weekend. And then there’s Luke Cage, in which Ali secured the coveted role of “Villain in a Netflix Marvel show. No, not villain in a Marvel movie. Those tend to not be great.” That said, Ali’s probably too dignified to be an Internet Boyfriend, a position that requires at least the appearance of being able to cut loose and have a little fun. (Remember Tom Hardy’s MySpace photos? Remember Steve?) In the words of Very Serious Discussion contributor Agent X (She’s watching. She’s always watching.), Ali is more the “Internet’s Stable and Sophisticated Older Man Who Teaches You About Good Wine.”
Riz Ahmed’s career path up to this point is prime Internet Boyfriend material. Well-regarded, reputation-building roles in acclaimed indie projects like Nightcrawler and Four Lions are followed up by a prestigious (and fan theory-generating) HBO series (The Night Of) that helps establish leading man potential. And then a Star War. The Star Wars franchise is a breeding ground for Internet Boyfriends, actually—it gave us Isaac, it’s going to give us Boyega, and you know damn well the Internet would have been all a’flutter over young Harrison Ford if it had existed back in the day. But Ahmed isn’t the only potential Internet Boyfriend from the Rogue One cast. There’s also…
Seize the brass ring, Diego Luna. It is your time.
Look, let’s just say every 30-something man in the Marvel/Star Wars wheelhouse has the potential to become an Internet Boyfriend. Disney knows how to pick ‘em. Alden Ehrenreich’s Internet Boyfriendness, if it comes to fruition, is probably a ways out. He’s nowhere near Boyega or Ahmed levels yet in terms of recognizability. He garnered much-deserved attention for his standout role in this year’s Hail, Caesar! (“Would that itTWERE so simple”), and all two people who saw abortive YA franchise-starter Beautiful Creatures know him from that, but “Alden Ehrenreich” is far from being a household name. His Han Solo movie comes out in May 2018, and before that he has a Warren Beatty-directed period romance and an Iraq War drama co-starring Jennifer Aniston. It’s too early to tell, but there’s potential here.
I’m going out on a limb here with André Holland, who of all the people on this list is the least-known. He played an early-20th century doctor struggling with racism in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent The Knick, which not a ton of people saw, because honestly, who has Cinemax? Along with Mahershala Ali, he has a supporting role in Moonlight, in which he is breath-stoppingly gorgeous, like holy shit. Hoooooly shit.
Basically, he’s talented and attractive and I’m in love with him, though not enough to watch American Horror Story: Roanoke, because I do have standards. He’s done some press with Moonlight and The Knick, but not a ton—he doesn’t really have an Internet “presence” like Boyega or the Twitter-happy Ahmed do. His personality isn’t out there yet, and personality is a big part of Internet Boyfriendness, because we’re not entirely shallow fiends. Holland is a wish list Internet Boyfriend. Make it so.