Thirst Trap: Asian Edition
34 of the sexiest Asian actors in movies and television
Last summer I began a Facebook series of daily posts featuring our hottest black thirst traps in Hollywood and converged those posts into Too Black, Too Strong. Even with its lone, solitary clap, I maintain the opinion it’s one of my best pieces to date. I shouldered this arduous work because I could only identify one black male sex symbol who was repeatedly cast as a romantic lead compared to dozens of white actors in the same age range. That actor was, as he remains, Michael B. Jordan. Fight me.
While I’m at home in cooperation with our statewide mandate to combat COVID-19, I decided to help foster some goodwill towards the Asian community by harnessing the great unifying power of thirst. Actors working in NY and LA with heritage from the Far East region have had only moderate success in breaking away from typecasted roles such as goofy, STEM smart side-kick, or mysterious master of martial arts. Lucky for us, the latter of these means no shortage of raw, muscular talent who have been doing more for the thirsty than a gallon of Gatorade. I feel it’s my job — nay, my civic duty to bring them to your attention.
1. GODFREY GAO
First, let’s pour one out to this 6’4” Canadian-Taiwanese supermodel and actor who died from cardiac arrest in November at the age of 35. Watch him burn through the screen in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) and The Jade Pendant (2017), or hear him as the voice of “Ken” in the Mandarin version of Toy Story 3 (2010). The first Asian male to appear in a campaign for Louis Vuitton, Gao charts internationally as one of the most attractive male celebrities — periodt. Gone way, way too soon.
2. LEWIS TAN
It’s understandable why Chinese-British actor and martial artist, Lewis Tan was cast as the wealthy playboy instead of the lead role in Wu Assassins (2019), the first Asian-American original series for Netflix. His combat scenes are so arousing, they should be classified as porn. I give daily thanks to his Instagram for producing us with so many photos of him posing shirtless and/or wet. He’s basically the Shemar Moore of Asian actors. I’m trying to prepare myself for his appearance in Mortal Kombat (2021). I know you might think you are ready, but you. are. not. ready.
3. HENRY GOLDING
After having a breakout year in 2018 as Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians (2018), this Malaysian-born English actor, model, and BBC television host earned a spot in People Magazine’s 2019 edition of The Sexiest Man Alive. There was even some low-key buzz about him being the next James Bond as if white people would let that happen (#notallwhitepeople.) Just envisioning him dripped out in Tom Ford suits and driving an Aston Martin has me shaken and stirred. We’ll see more of Henry in the titular role of Snake Eyes (2020)in the G.I. Joe franchise; I just hope they don’t hide that gorgeous face under a mask for very long.
4. DEV PATEL
Patel’s glow-up from Slumdog Millionaire (2008) to Lion (2016) is certified fresh by thirsty audiences nationwide. Although he was born in England to parents of Gujarati Indian descent, they are both originally from Nairobi, Kenya. I know *technically* that doesn’t make him Black, but in the racial draft, the Black Delegation might be willing to trade him for, say, the current iteration of Kanye West. At the very least, I think he’s invited to the cookout. Will we all be watching him in The Green Knight (2020)? Oh yes, we will.
6. SIMU LIU
There’s a Reddit page called “Ladyboners” and I will never get over not coming up with this nomenclature first. If Simu Liu doesn’t give you a boner respective to your gender identity, you might want to check your pulse. This Chinese-Canadian star of Kim’s Convenience is set to play the title role in Shang Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), which makes him the first Asian actor to lead a Marvel Studio film.
6. CHRIS PANG
Crazy Rich Asians (2018), a.k.a. the gift that keeps on giving also stars this Australian actor of Chinese and Taiwanese descent as the bridegroom of the story, Colin Khoo. The face. The baw-dy. The swag. If I had this kind of bone structure, it would be over for you heauxs. I highly recommend watching the much-maligned reboot, Charlie’s Angels (2019) just for his appearance. It’s a much better movie than it’s given credit for and the opening scene where Pang gets massacred by Kristen Stewart is particularly satisfying. I could have used a cigarette by the time she was finished with him.
7. DANIEL HENNEY
This American actor didn’t speak the language when he starred on My Lovely Sam Soon, the most popular Korean TV show of 2005. I guess when you’re this pretty, no one is listening too closely to what you have to say. Henney also provides the voice of Tadashi Hamada in the Oscar-winning movie Big Hero 6 (2014) as well as the eponymous TV series. After learning some chokeholds as FBI Special Agent Matt Simmons on Criminal Minds since 2015, he broke up a real-life fight at a liquor store! Oh, how I envy that lucky pair of rabble-rousers. I would pay good money to have him put me in a headlock any day of the week.
8. SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY
When I searched for photos of this beautiful Indian-American actor succeeding his days as Mohinder Suresh on the TV show Heroes (2006–2010), I thought he must have gone underground because they all looked the same. This motherfucker does not age. I think he might be a vampire. Maybe that’s why he was cast as Bloodwork on season 6 of The Flash, which is a lot more interesting than all the other times he’s played a doctor or scientist. How unimaginative. I can think of 100 better uses for that thick, wavy hair, that smooth brown skin, those dark, piercing eyes, his chiseled jawline, his trim physique — whew, excuse me, y’all. I think I may need to take a moment.
9. DAVID LIM
As if he weren’t already fine as hell when he was on Quantico (2016–17) this Chinese-American actor started putting extra time in the gym when he joined the cast of the CBS crime drama, S.W.A.T. and we’re all the better for it. He says fitness has been a part of his daily life since the age of 12 when he picked up his first set of dumbbells trying to impress a girl. If by “impress” he meant “giving women raging lady boners every time we see him,” consider that job done.
10. RIZ AHMED
This smoking hot British-Pakistani actor/rapper already had an impressive list of film credits including Nightcrawler (2014), Jason Bourne (2016), and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) when he won the Emmy that made him the first Muslim and first South Asian to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Add to that an MTV Video Music Award for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” on the Hamilton Mixtape, and spot on the cover of TIME magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People” of 2017 for his political activism, and I think we can agree that Riz Ahmed could get it.
11. ALEXANDER HODGE
Imma keep it real and tell y’all that I fell off of Insecure after the second season. It’s a good show, but I couldn’t keep up, and dodging spoilers on social media drive me crazy. When I started seeing things about Molly and Asian Bae, I was stunned by photos of this Australian actor of Irish and Chinese descent. All that luscious hair — and are those freckles?! Don’t even tell me how she messed this up. Molly stays on team bad decisions and I’d rather just use my imagination.
12. HASAN MINHAJ
Be still my heart. How can you look into those brown puppy-dog eyes and not fall completely in love? You may not be able to find a bunch of shirtless selfies on his Instagram, but there’s nothing sexier than his nakedly brilliant mind. This Indian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, and actor, won two Peabody Awards and two Webby Awards for Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. I feel that the world is a little less sexy without this show on Netflix.
But wait, there’s more!
The Millenials- Up and Coming
MANNY JACINTO (32)** Canadian-Filipino actor from The Good Place; CHARLES MELTON (29) American actor of Korean and Cherokee descent plays Reggie Mantle on the CW series, Riverdale; ROSS BUTLER (29), Malaysian-American star of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why; HARRY SHUM, JR, (37) American actor born in Costa Rica to Chinese immigrants, best known from Glee (2009–2015) and then Shadowhunters (2016–2019) also cast in Crazy Rich Asians. REMI HII (34) Chinese-Malaysian actor from Queensland who plays Brad Davis, in Spiderman: Far From Home (2019); and ALEX LANDI (27), Korean-Italian actor from NYC cast as Dr. Nico Kim on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, the first male surgeon on the show of Asian descent. I swear the enormity of thirst traps on that show is a primary factor for its longevity.
GEN X- The Original Gangsters
Let’s not forget the GenXers who have been out here doing the damn thing for years. The silent but deadly crew who come onto the scene, crush it and then go the fuck home. This group of delectable daddies can break your heart or break your neck and probably blow your back out if you know what I mean. DANIEL DAE KIM (51), South Korean Actor from Lost and Hawaii Five-0. DANIEL WU (45), Chinese-American actor from Warcraft (2016) and The Man With the Iron Fists (2012); BRIAN TEE (43) Japanese actor from all the Chicago P.D. series and Shredder in TMNT: Out of the Shadows (2016), DAVID LEE MCINNIS (46), Korean-American television star of Iris and Mr. Sunshine; BYUNG-HUN LEE (47) born in Seoul, South Korea, of Red 2 (2013) and The Magnificent 7 (2016); WILL YUN LEE (49) the Korean American actor who’s been kicking ass and taking names for years seen in Red Dawn (2012), The Wolverine (2013), True Blood, and Altered Carbon.
Wow. That’s it! I’m finished, and I did the whole thing without using one ethnic slur or tacky references to Asian food. Don’t forget to clap and follow or else you’ll never know when I decide to drop more thirst traps…(Oops! I did it again!) Be well, stay safe, and stay thirsty, my friends!
** Ages of the actors in 2019, when this article was published.