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Image: Johnny Depp
Max Nash  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Actor Johnny Depp on June 29,at the British Premiere of his latest film 'Public Enemies'.
updated 11/18/2009 9:59:13 AM ET 2009-11-18T14:59:13

For just the third time ever, there is a two-time winner of People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” award.

On Wednesday, Johnny Depp joined Brad Pitt (1995 and 2000) and George Clooney (1997 and 2006) as the only two-time winners of the much-debated title. It was something of a surprise: Usually, People’s sexiest man is coming off a year spent in the public spotlight because of a major movie release. Depp, who won in 2003, breaks the mold, winning despite his keeping a low profile in 2009.

And according to the U.K. Daily Mail, that profile is about to get a lot larger. Its Web site is reporting that Depp has just signed to film a fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, “On Stranger Tides,” in return for a whopping $35 million payday.

People editor Julie Jordan said the magazine’s editors considered 2009’s hunk-of-the-moment, “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson, for the award, but decided instead to go with the 46-year-old unmarried father of two for longevity that has withstood the test of time.

“The thing about Johnny is he has proven his sexiness over the years,” Jordan explained to TODAY’s Natalie Morales. She said he was the only actor who “can pull off the sexiness” behind such bizarre characters as Willie Wonka and the Mad Hatter.

“Johnny Depp has magical powers. He’s unlike anyone else,” actress Isla Fisher agrees in the Sexiest Man issue of People. “He's funny, generous and clever. It’s just a shame he’s so hard on the eyes.”

The actor, who was born in Owensboro, Ky., and had a difficult childhood during which his family moved many times, has also proved his versatility. Since first hitting the public radar in the cop show “21 Jump Street” in 1987, he has created a succession of memorable roles, from Edward Scissorhands to Gilbert Grape to Willie Wonka to Raoul Duke, a.k.a. Hunter S. Thompson, to Sweeney Todd to Captain Jack Sparrow.

More sexy stars
Depp didn’t make it to New York for the announcement, but another of People’s sexiest men did. “Sex and the City” fans know (and lust after) French heartthrob Gilles Marini, who played Samantha’s naked neighbor in the big-screen spin-off of the HBO TV series. Marini also nearly won “Dancing With the Stars,” has a recurring role in “Nip/Tuck” on F/X and recently completed a story arc on ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters.”

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Video: What's it like to be Depp's double? Marini’s purpose in appearing on TODAY wasn’t to celebrate his selection, but to promote his 2010 calendar, which features 12 months of his barely clothed self in various enticing poses. The actor doffed his duds for a good cause: Proceeds from the calendar, he said, benefit the Maximum Hope Foundation for terminally ill children.

Marini is featured in a section of People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue called “Waking Up in Vegas” (use your imagination, ladies). Honored with him for their masculine allure are James Marsden, Eddie Cibrian, Hunter Parrish, John Legend, Justin Bartha, and the male cast members of TV series “Glee,” Mark Salling, Matthew Morrison and Cory Monteith.

Other categories
This year’s issue is broken into other playful categories. And while it is dominated, as usual, by Hollywood hunks, it also includes the heads of state of the United States, France and Russia — Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin. They earned mention in the “Sexy Shirtless” category, along with such show-biz entries as Zac Efron.

Video: Johnny Depp on being Willy Wonka Another section of the issue is called “Vampire Awards,” and those are broken down into subcategories such as “Hair,” in which Robert Pattinson takes the honors. The magazine also put actor Jerry O’Connell in a Speedo swimsuit, then photographed him going through his day’s activities — everything from perusing a book in the library to ordering meat in a deli — calling it “My Life in a Speedo.”

There are also “Celeb Look-Alikes,” where People makes a case that Jon Hamm, for example, looks exactly like Fabio. Then there’s “Leading Men by Leading Ladies,” where the co-stars of various sexy men dish on the guys’ sex appeal. Men in that group include Matt Damon and Ryan Reynolds.

History of sexy
People’s first Sexiest Man Alive was Mel Gibson in 1985, and with the exception of 1994, when no winner was named, they have continued to confer the honor every year since. In 1993, People named a “Sexiest Couple Alive,” Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, but after that went back to men only.

Over the 24 years People has been naming a sexiest man, the list has been dominated by actors. John F. Kennedy Jr., who won in 1988, is the only winner who had nothing to do with the entertainment industry. Past winners are: 1985, Mel Gibson; 1986, Mark Harmon; 1987, Harry Hamlin; 1988, John F. Kennedy Jr.; 1989, Sean Connery; 1990, Tom Cruise; 1991, Patrick Swayze; 1992, Nick Nolte; 1993, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford (“The Sexiest Couple Alive”); 1995, Brad Pitt; 1996, Denzel Washington; 1997, George Clooney; 1998, Harrison Ford; 1999, Richard Gere; 2000, Brad Pitt; 2001, Pierce Brosnan; 2002, Ben Affleck; 2003, Johnny Depp; 2004, Jude Law; 2005, Matthew McConaughey; 2006, George Clooney; 2007, Matt Damon; and 2008, Hugh Jackman.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive

Video: Johnny Depp is People’s ‘Sexiest Man’

  1. Closed captioning of: Johnny Depp is People’s ‘Sexiest Man’

    announcer: only come from hidden valley ,

    >>> all right, it's that time you've been waiting for this morning. every year, "people" magazine bestows the title sexiest man alive on one hollywood hunk, and as evidenced on our own show, it's a role these celebrity beefcakes take very seriously.

    >> your friends come up and say you're the sexiest man in america. you go, no, no --

    >> alive.

    >> sexiest man alive .

    >> it was a little embarrassing for me because matt damon lobbied so hard for it, you know? and when he didn't get it, i know he was hurt.

    >> you're campaigning to be the sexiest man alive on "people"?

    >> clooney's been trying to, you know, trying to campaign for me the last few years.

    >> really?

    >> yeah, it's a whisper campaign , but i feel like it's working.

    >> sexiest man in the universe for the what, 43rd consecutive time?

    >> the second time.

    >> by the way, i should mention, this is a rather rare honor to give the new sexiest man alive the honor and hand it to you from last year's.

    >> last year's sexiest man alive .

    >> congratulations.

    >> oh. that is so nice.

    >> there you go.

    >> so, the sash goes like that --

    >> no --

    >> like that.

    >> no. yeah, something like that.

    >> that is -- and then, you know.

    >> "people" magazine has made another smart choice.

    >> yes, they have.

    >> all right, that was then. "people" magazine's julie jordan is here to reveal this year's honors, and the winner for the sexiest man alive for 2009 is, julie ? drum roll .

    >> johnny depp .

    >> johnny depp .

    >> yes, absolutely.

    >> da, da! second time he has been named the sexiest man alive . so, why double dipping and why now? because he doesn't really have a film out for 2009 , right?

    >> right. well, the thing about johnny is he has proven his sexiness over the years. jack sparrow , willie wonka , the mad hatter in "alice in wonderland" in january. these characters, he's the one that can pull off sex appeal behind the characters.

    >> staying power .

    >> they demand that in sexiest man alive .

    >> they have staying power . well, i have to agree. he qualifies in my book. there is also a spread in here. this is the "waking up in vegas " spread.

    >> yes.

    >> and to do the honors, another very sexy man --

    >> please.

    >> according to your readers, is jeel. tell me about him.

    >> we did a feature, "waking up in vegas ," paying homage to "the hangover" this summer, and i like him especially because he says when you go to vegas , it's better to take your friends. he's a happily married man, but enjoys letting loose. i think a lot of husbands out there, including my own, would agree with him.

    >> he's got the moves on the dance floor . jeel, come on in.

    >> please.

    >> here is the intermall man of mystery we've been talking about. see? in france, you kiss, twice, right? thank you.

    >> yes.

    >> how are you?

    >> al roker wanted to give you a kiss, too, by the way.

    >> he left.

    >> he's going to be here to give you a kiss.

    >> we'll kiss backstage.

    >> so, tell me, you're here --

    >> what an honor.

    >> you're here. it's an incredible honor. you've got to be here, though, you know? next year, maybe? yes.

    >> whenever the time will come, but i'm so happy that actually johnny depp is the sexiest man alive , because he is. he's a real man and he's been proving for many, many years that he's definitely -- he has the whole package.

    >> enough about him. what about you?

    >> what can i say about me?

    >> you have a project out that you're proud about right now. tell me about this. it's a calendar?

    >> yes, yes. a very good friend of mine actually -- oh, here we go. did a calendar and all my proceeds will go to a charity called the maximum hope foundation.

    >> yes.

    >> so, i'm very proud of that. it helps terminally ill children and families to get through that.

    >> so, it's a great cause.

    >> yeah.

    >> it's something you're passionate about.

    >> i wouldn't have had that, but it's a good one. it's a very good one.

    >> and it's a very nicely done calendar. i can't tell you which month is my favorite, but al thinks august 20th --

    >> august 20th .

    >> the date of august 20th . he would like your autograph on august 20th for his birthday. so, we'll have you do that for him, too. and gilles, any other products coming up for you, movies? " sex and the city ," are you back? can you tell us?

    >> not really. on the second one, no, but i'm on the dvd, so i don't know, a dream sequence ? i have no idea. they'll surprise me. but no, i'm back on " brothers and sisters ." that's going to be amazing.

    >> very good.

    >> amazing cast.

    >> good.

    >> i'm in heaven there.

    >> well, we hope to see you on the cover next year, julie .

    >> i think future issues, for sure.

    >> we're going to start lobbying for you.

    >> the whisper --

    >> the whisper campaign .

    >> do they really campaign? the celebrities do campaign, right?

    >> this is a title -- it's a coveted issue.

    >> there is a dedication on the photo in the background --

    >> for al?

    >> for the sexiest man. it's my publicist in the back.

    >> oh --

    >> there's a silhouette of a female.

    >> that's the dedication.

    >> so, see what lengths they will get to.

    >> it's the publicists who do the dirty work . gilles, julie . so nice to meet you. thank you for being here. good luck can the calendar. it's great cause, even better. thank you.

    >>> find out why "today's" beauty


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