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Who's Going to Be the Internet's Next Boyfriend?

By Rebecca Pahle | Lists | October 21, 2016 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Lists | October 21, 2016 |

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.

John Boyega

The Force Awakens star John Boyega is 80% of the way to Internet Boyfriend already. But he only has one movie that the general public actually knows about (your grandmother doesn’t know what Attack the Block is, unless your grandmother is awesome), so he hasn’t quite achieved the level of ubiquity required to tip him over the edge from “nerd crush object” to full-on Internet Boyfriend. He’ll get there—he has the attractiveness/potential for slight goofiness combo that any Internet Boyfriend needs, plus the man loves his fans and plays the Internet like a fiddle. If he hasn’t already achieved Internet Boyfriend status by the time Episode VIII rolls around next year, that movie (and its accompanying press tour, all-important for proving ones Internet Boyfriend bona fides) will do the job, after which he should be able to ride the wave of nerd affection through the Pacific Rim sequel in 2018.

Mahershala Ali
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
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…

Diego Luna

I approve of every single man on this list achieving Internet Boyfriend status, but Diego’s a person I’m ride or die for. DIEGO LUNA DESERVES THIS. His big breakout was in Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, where he starred alongside friend Gael García Bernal, the Ben Affleck to his Matt Damon. (Or is it the Matt Damon to his Ben Affleck? But which of them has the giant back tattoo?) In the 15 years since Y Tu Mamá, Bernal became more famous and got higher-profile roles, but Luna’s never been out of the game, appearing in such movies as The Terminal, Elysium, and The Book of Life. (And, uh, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.) Now he’s playing seasoned Rebel Cassian Andor in Rogue One, and whoo boy, this is going to be a problem for me.


Seize the brass ring, Diego Luna. It is your time.

Alden Ehrenreich
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.

André Holland
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.

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