For The Funny Of It

While most young Hollywood actors prefer to walk in the dusty tracks of James Dean of Marlon Brando, Dave Sheridan and Michael Rosenbaum are following the lead of Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller.

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"Funny is money" is one of Hollywood's oldest axioms. But, when it comes to leading men, funny usually cancels out sexy, right? Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Mike Myers and Martin Lawrence are inarguably funny, but would they be described as devilishly attractive? Not in the ripped, chiseled, smoldering way most audiences find sexy, anyway. But a new breed of actors, spearheaded by offbeat sexy jokesters like Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, could finally be canceling out the dichotomy.

Take Michael Rosenbaum (right), who cut his teeth in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Urban Legend and Sweet November, and the TV shows "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane" and "The Tom Show." Since the 29-year-old Rosenbaum shaved his head to play villainous Lex Luthor on the WB's hit "Smallville," reviewers have caught on in a big way to his scene-stealing charisma, self-confidence and, well, mojo. "I've spent so many years hearing nothing about my work that I'd come to expect nothing," he says. "But then another part of me says, 'Yeah, it's about fucking time.'" Clearly, Rosenbaum has spent many years figuring out who his inspirations are: "If I could have a little splash of Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, some Chris Farley thrown in and a little Dudley Moore, that's the comic actor I'd like to grow into being."

Mention the sex factor critics have noted and Rosenbaum goes into stand-up comic mode. "To ever think of myself as a sex symbol cracks me up," he says. "If I wasn't an actor on a hit show, I think I'd still get laid. Girls are attracted to guys who are themselves, who don't feel they have to sit in the corner of a cool bar drinking and smoking. I'm the guy who, with his friends, says, 'Let's get trashed and see The Lord of the Rings for the 17th time.'"

But Rosenbaum does realize his new stardom makes him more attractive. "I wouldn't say I'm having more sex now, but I could if I chose to push it," he admits, laughing. "Now's the time I have to watch my ass, though. Get with the wrong girl, with someone crazy, and I could screw things up."

His charisma and sex appeal have been put to good use in the comedy Sorority Boys, directed by Wally Wolodarsky of "The Simpsons." Rosenbaum; Harland Williams and Barry Watson play frat boys who pose as homely sorority sisters to solve their money troubles. "It's obviously not A Beautiful Mind" he chuckles. "It's a twisted, raunchy comedy that's like 'The Three Stooges' in drag. It's a fun no-brainer and, being a sick freak, I got into being in drag even though my fake breasts hurt and itched."

When asked if he might become interested in a career in more serious acting down the road, Rosenbaum shoots back: "Let all the pretty boys do drama. It's harder by far to do comedy."

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