HOLLYWOOD—All eyes are squarely fixed on Jude Law as he comes to the 100-day mark in his tenure as People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2004.
"You can't overstate the importance of the Sexiest Man Alive's first 100 days," said Veronica Giulletti, associate editor of People. "They set the tone for his entire term. The whole world is looking at him to see what is sexy."
In November, Law emerged as the new sexiest man alive, after a fiercely contested, sexy race that pitted him against such hunks as Orlando Bloom, Colin Farrell, and two-time winner Brad Pitt.
"Law's ascension was not a mandate, remember," Giulletti said. "The Sexiest Man Alive issue featured a complete list of heart-stoppers who ranged in age from 22 to 58. It included 34 actors, 10 singers, a baseball player, and a poker champ. If Law ever starts to rest on his laurels, he need only open his copy of the Nov. 17, 2004 issue. That photo spread is a stark, sexy reminder of the challenges the Sexiest Man Alive faces."
According to Giulletti, the Sexiest Man Alive receives the most media attention at the very beginning of his term. While some sexy men use the news coverage as an opportunity to introduce radical changes to their looks, Giulletti said that Law chose to stay the course.
"Jude came into office with a big, sexy plan in place," Giulletti said. "He'd spent years tweaking and refining his dapper image, so it was wise that he chose to stick with it."
Throughout his first 100 days, Law earned public-approval ratings ranging from the high 60s to the low 80s.
"While Jude's look is too conservative for some tastes, no one can deny that he conveys a strong, focused, well-honed sexiness," Giulletti said. "He has gorgeous cheekbones, sensual lips, and lovely blue eyes. His frame, while not Russell Crowe studly, certainly isn't too twee either."
Entertainment-industry pundits have lauded Law for his savvy campaign to distinguish himself from his predecessor, 2003's Sexiest Man Alive Johnny Depp.
"Johnny was sexy," entertainment writer Cami Stoeffer said. "That said, many People readers were disappointed by his administration. They felt the energy he expended overseas was in excess. Some took all that jet-setting as an indication that Johnny didn't care about making America a sexier place."
In contrast to Depp, Law introduced a "sexy by example" style of leadership, aggressively undertaking a highly publicized campaign advocating short-cropped hairstyles for men.
"Sexy-people-watchers advocate Jude's aggressive stance on haircuts," Stoeffer said. "It's a traditional platform, but Law has done well with his campaign to present a carefully styled, finished look. In fact, in a recent phone poll, 82 percent of women ages 18-34 agreed that Law is a total fox."
Nonetheless, critics are quick to point out Law's missteps.
Nelson Garcia, writer for the National Enquirer, said Law's first 100 days have been "a fiasco."
"From his overly gelled hair on the set of his forthcoming film All The King's Men to his hosting of Saturday Night Live on the night of Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching debacle, Jude Law has been an embarrassment to the entertainment world," Garcia said. "And let's not forget his visit to the Los Angeles Children's Hospital. It was a great chance to raise pulses nationwide by showing up in a well-worn sleeveless T-shirt and gym shoes. Instead, he looked like a dandy out on the court. Now, Matt Damon—there's a guy who could look good playing basketball with below-average-looking kids."
Mel Gibson, who was named People's first Sexiest Man Alive in 1985, urged the public to support Law.
"Jude has some challenges ahead of him, but I support him completely," Gibson said. "The Sexiest Man Alive is only human. It's not fair to attack him every time he looks tired or is seen in a club that isn't hip. Jude deserves a chance to show us what he's got—both in his riveting dramatic roles and in photos of him with his shirt off."