Throughout the history of cinema, romantic movies have won the hearts of filmgoers. Some are classic tales of sweeping love stories, while others feature a more modern-day flair; there truly is a rom-com out there for everyone. And similarly, there are movie actors that cater to everyone’s tastes.
From cinematic bad boys with a heart of gold, dorks with a charming prince inside, sweetheart girls with a sassy edge, to wallflowers waiting to be discovered, there’s quite a catalog of rom-com talent to love.
But who among them are the best? Who cried in the rain, sent secret love letters, lip-synced in the kitchen, and danced at a party like an actual movie pro? Who rocked the most iconic outfits, leaving a legacy in both fashion and cinema? And most importantly, who warmed moviegoers’ hearts most of all? Let’s take a look at 15 actors who have shifted (and are currently shifting) the most lovable of movie genres.
With only a few projects on her filmography, Lana Condor has left quite a memorable impression. As the star of the successful Netflix movie, “To All The Boys I Loved Before” (and its two sequels), Lana proved her skills within not only the teen movie genre but the rom-com one as well. Plus, with her believably chemistry with co-stars Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard, and Jordan Fisher throughout the series, Condor showed that she could hold her own against whatever rom-com scenario these movies had to throw at her.
But the best aspect of Condor is her potential within the future of rom-coms as a whole. The best romantic comedy stars have that perfect blend of relatability while still playing up the fantastical elements of the love story at hand — a quality that Condor has in spades. And when you add in her comedic chops and her charming appeal, it’s easy to see why she’s a rom-com star quickly on the rise.
One of the queens of the ’90s, Drew Barrymore defined the decade with her quirky aesthetic, flower-power vibes, and overall kindness. And though she starred in plenty of movies outside of the rom-com genre, it is her projects within it that continue to impact filmgoers. From her iconic work with Adam Sandler to her plethora of other romantic-focused movies (including “Never Been Kissed,” “Ever After,” and “Fever Pitch”), Drew has no shortage of proof that she’s a perfect, adorable addition to any cinematic love story.
Yet what really makes Drew an iconic rom-com star is her earnest nature that’s captured on screen. Whether she’s playing a lyricist waiting to be noticed, an underdog looking to live out their own Cinderella story, or a soon-to-be bride in love with a wedding singer, Drew always incorporates her genuine spirit into these roles. A quality that makes the romances within said movies even more believable. And when combined with her natural glow and precious smile, it’s hard not to fall in love with Drew too.
With her stunning features, eternal glow, and bubbly aesthetic, Jennifer Lopez is a rom-com pro. From her roles in such 2000’s classics as “The Wedding Planner” to her more recent work in “Second Act,” Lopez has continued to prove that she knows her way around the romantic movie world in more ways than one. And while she has starred in her fair share of forgettable flops, when Jennifer Lopez is paired with suitable rom-com material the results can come across as true movie magic.
Jennifer’s roles in movies like “Maid in Manhattan” and “Shall We Dance?” showcase her best skill – making the fantasy at the center of the film believable (regardless of how silly of a concept it may be.) Specifically, this comes into the play during the sequences where Jennifer has to sell the most lavish of romantic moments. From walking into a party to meet with a soon-to-be senator or guiding Richard Gere onto the dance floor, Jennifer continues to prove that she has a gift for commanding the rom-com screen.
Known for her career-defining roles in such classics as “Pillow Talk” and “Love Me or Leave Me,” Doris Day left a mark on American cinema not just with her award-winning smile but her charismatic persona. When it comes to the rom-com genre, there’s no denying that Day left an impact on it that many other actors wish they could have. With her spunky attitude, wide eyes, and blonde locks, her energy was the definition of infectious, making it easy to believe why any of her on-screen co-stars would fall madly in love with her.
The roles in which Day was paired with her most famous partners in cinematic ventures, Rock Hudson and James Garner, allowed her to truly flourish within the genre. Her comedic timing was laser-sharp, her glow was shining even more, and her romantic chemistry was off the charts. But honestly, the most outstanding quality of Doris was her wholesome nature — something that, regardless of the role, made her a true movie star for all time.
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Starring in some of the most classic films in all of cinematic history, Audrey Hepburn laid the groundwork for future dorm room posters and the modern evolution of the rom-com genre. From her debut performance in “Roman Holiday” to her enchanting portrayal of the lead character in “Sabrina,” Hepburn personified the fantasy of a fairy tale princess with a modern yet sophisticated quality. But it was her career-defining turn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” along with her brilliant work in the film adaptation of “My Fair Lady” that cemented her as the pop culture icon we know of today.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Hepburn’s rom-com filmography is the actors she was paired with. From Humphrey Bogart to Gregory Peck, Hepburn’s romantic suitors were often as aesthetically rough as she was soft, bold as she was graceful — making it an entertaining juxtaposition to explore. But there’s a comforting believability within Audrey’s sparkling performances that’s hard to ignore. Even the most cynical viewers can find a bit of themselves falling for Hepburn’s countless romantic characters. Because they, like Hepburn herself, have an earnest, lovable quality to them.