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'Sexiest Man': No new blood this time

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
Johnny Depp fans were surprised that he took People's '"Sexiest Man Alive" title, but they weren't complaining.
Johnny Depp fans were surprised that he took People's '"Sexiest Man Alive" title, but they weren't complaining.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • There were rumors that Robert Pattinson was sexiest man alive, but it went to Depp
  • Fans were surprised, but pleasantly so
  • Many feel that Pattinson just isn't there yet, careerwise, to have earned it
  • People magazine chose Depp because he has "universal appeal"
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(CNN) -- One of the toughest questions plaguing women the world over just got more difficult: Team Edward, Team Jacob ... or Team Johnny?

Now that 46-year-old Johnny Depp has earned People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title for the second time, reactions have ranged from congratulatory, to skeptical, to the inevitable claims that vampire du jour Robert Pattinson was robbed.

"Somebody PLEASE explain to me how Rob Pattinson is not this year's #sexiestmanalive?" demanded University of Maryland student Sarah Martin on Twitter. Jessica Bush in Texas complained that "Rob got ripped off."

They weren't the only ones. Earlier this week, a fake People cover was circulated proclaiming the 23-year-old Pattinson as the magazine's sexiest man. Turns out that cover was all a hoax, as People revealed this morning with a legitimate Depp-ed out cover.

Pattinson, who plays Edward in the "Twilight" series, and Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob in the films, have dominated conversations about who's hot in Hollywood for the past year, but when it comes to choosing the sexiest man, People senior editor Galina Espinoza said it's more of an art than a science. (Lautner did not make this year's list, but the "Twilight" star is under 18.)

"We essentially do a roundup of all the guys who got our hearts racing throughout the year, who were looking great out on the town or on screen, and then we pit them against each other," she said. "We're comparing pure hotness on one level as well as what kind of year they're having."

As for Depp, Espinoza said, "He has a big movie coming out next month with 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,' where he stepped in as a replacement for Heath [Ledger], plus he had a big summer movie with 'Public Enemies.' He seems to be having a great run right now," which is nothing to scoff at after 20 years in the business, Espinoza added.

But for those still in disbelief that a vampire was passed over for a swashbuckler, Pattinson did make People's "sexiest men" list. The magazine even admits, "what list of sexy men would be complete without the 'New Moon' heartthrob?"

What it came down to, Espinoza said, is that the sexiest man alive should have "universal appeal."

"There are some guys who can identify as the newest teen crushes," she said, "but to have someone who can appeal to an audience that cuts across age groups is a bona fide movie star, and that's what Johnny Depp is."

Nonetheless, even Depp's fans were surprised that he was taking the number one spot.

"I absolutely love Johnny Depp and I genuinely think he's one of the best actors of our time," said 22-year-old author Alexandra Bracken of New York via e-mail. "It just seems like a bit of an odd fit, though -- maybe because he's not traditionally 'sexy' in the way that Hugh Jackman or Brad Pitt are? He doesn't strike me as a particularly image-oriented person, or at least not the type of actor that would actively seek a title like this out."

Bracken has a point. Depp told Esquire magazine in a December 2007 interview that while he's grateful for his position and likes the work, he doesn't always like what comes along with it.

"I don't want to be a product," Depp told the men's magazine. "I don't want to know who's hot now and who's not and who's making this much dough and who's boffing this woman or that one. I want to remain ignorant of all this."

Yet his humble, "Hollywood outsider" vibe is part of his sexy appeal.

"[People magazine] judges it not off just looks, but also what's sexy: Depp does a lot for charity, and he seems like a nice husband and father," said fashion blogger and editor Lindsey Calla in a phone interview.

Pattinson, she said, isn't ready yet.

"Robert Pattinson is completely sexy, but he's semi-new," Calla said. "The sexiest man alive thing, you have to be really, really established and have done various projects, and there's still an air of mystery to Robert Pattinson. I love him, and I hope he wins it in the future, but if he got it now I would've thought it was another publicity stunt."

Rosy Cordero, David Beckham lover and chief editor at AccidentalSexiness.com, was also surprised that Pattinson didn't win the title.

"Pattinson has been in the spotlight a lot this past year and the 'Twilight' films have catapulted him to heartthrob status," Cordero said. "But 'Sexiest Man Alive?' I don't think he is quite 'there' just yet."

The 31-year-old Miami, Florida, blogger was pleased with People's more under-the-radar choices, like Matt Bomer from USA's "White Collar" and the "extremely fine Frenchman Gilles Marini," Cordero said.

"I really feel bad for the committee who is in charge of picking the Sexiest Man Alive," she added. "They have a terribly difficult job!"

It's a dirty job, but People is committed. People's senior editor Kate Coyne told CBS' "The Early Show" that the team was looking for someone whose sex appeal was timeless.

"[Depp] appeals to multiple generations of women -- and for many different reasons," she said. "He was sexy ten years ago [and] he'll be sexy ten years from now."

 
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