When you close your eyes and picture the ideal of the Hollywood leading man, you probably picture statuesque gents with rippling muscles, great hair and irresistible chemistry with whoever they’re paired with on-screen. However, there are plenty of actors with a commanding presence on the big screen without being especially big themselves.
Here are some of Hollywood’s most notable men who make up with charisma what they lack in height. (Note: we are not counting actors with forms of dwarfism, such as the great Peter Dinklage.)
10. Robert Downey: 1.74m
The average height for a man living in America is five feet and nine inches, or 1.75 meters. Given that he has acted opposite such leggy beauties as Gwyneth Paltrow and statuesque leading men like Jude Law without too much of a problem, it may shock you to know that Hollywood bad boy Robert Downey Jr actually fails to measure up to this average.
As surprising as it may be, Downey Jr is actually just a scant five feet eight inches or 1.74 meters tall. He makes up for this with elevator shoes on the red carpet, and wearing heels in shots where his feet aren’t visible for movies.
9. Martin Freeman: 1.72m
Across his decades-long career, Martin Freeman has played both the titular hobbit in The Hobbit and the diminutive John Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s towering Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock. He also exploited his shortness to play one half of Love Actually’s most innocent and adorable couple, opposite 1.58m Joanna Page.
Given that Freeman has played a member of a fantasy race that is most famous for its short stature and curly crop of hair, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Freeman measures up at just 1.72m.
8. James McAvoy: 1.7m
James McAvoy is considered one of Scotland’s sexiest men, and he’s also had his fair share of leading roles, from Professor X in the X-Men movies to the one-man star vehicle that was Split. However, he has talked at length about his comparatively short 1.7m stature working against him in Hollywood.
In an interview with the Telegraph, McAvoy remarked, “As a shorter man, I sometimes get told I’m too short for a role. Or even when I get a role, I’m made to feel like, well, of course, we’re going to have to do something about that.”
7. Tom Cruise: 1.7m
Tom Cruise is the epitome of the Hollywood leading man. He spent his early career playing handsome, motorcycle driving heartthrobs like Maverick in Top Gun, before becoming the star of two action franchises with Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher. He has proven he can run faster than almost any other actor, is willing to climb, jump off or cling onto almost any landmark no matter how tall, and has great hair.
However, despite all that, Cruise is still sensitive about some things, namely his 1.7m height. His ex-wife Nicole Kidman famously joked after breaking up with him that she could finally wear heels again.
6. Jack Black: 1.68m
Some celebrities are either defined by their height against their will, or choose to lean into their stature for the purposes of empowerment or comedy. However, despite being just 1.68m tall, Jack Black’s height has never really been an object of discussion. In fact, it usually takes a back seat to other elements of his physical appearance, such as the giant salt and pepper beard that he has taken to sporting ever since last year.
Black’s short stature probably helped him to relate to the kids in School of Rock, many of whom were close to this height. However, it made his casting in 2010’s Gulliver’s Travels – an update of the classic story in which an average man becomes a giant in a land of tiny people – feel a little ironic.
5. Elijah Wood: 1.68m
In a twist that isn’t actually that surprising when you think about it, Martin Freeman is not the only man to portray a hobbit that appears on this list. Elijah Wood is even shorter than Freeman, with a height of just 1.68m, and that allowed him to catch the attention of producers when he auditioned to play Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Though Wood’s small stature and boyish features eventually won him the starring role in one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, it also has caused him problems in the industry. With major leading roles proving elusive, Wood now works more extensively as a producer.
4. Dustin Hoffman: 1.67m
Dustin Hoffman has had a long and storied career, winning two Academy Awards plus five more nominations under his belt, as well as a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway performance as Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He’s considered such a dramatic powerhouse, you might not have realised Hoffman is a mere 1.67m tall.
Hoffman’s diminutive stature did nothing to keep him from being one of the most in-demand actors of his generation, standing proud as a leading man from the 60s all the way to the 2010s. However, recent years have seen his reputation severely tarnished by a slew of sexual misconduct allegations.
3. Daniel Radcliffe: 1.65m
Like Elijah Wood, Daniel Radcliffe shot to fame at a young age thanks to a starring role in a classic literary adaptation, one that would come to define both his life and career. Also like Elijah Wood, Radcliffe is on the shorter side, with a height of just 1.65m. However, even though Radcliffe is the same height as his Harry Potter costar Emma Watson, you wouldn’t know to look at him.
Radcliffe is another actor with an affinity for subtly heeled shoes, and he’s even been known to wear lifts as high as four inches in his sneakers and brogues for important occasions such as premieres.
2. Kevin Hart: 1.58m
There’s a very old joke about short men learning to be funny from a young age, and it’s definitely true of Kevin Hart. The hilarious comedian is just 1.58m tall, making him one of the shortest male entertainers to be working in the public eye. Hart has endured many jokes about his height and has even made a fair few himself, but is actually extremely relaxed about his short stature.
Speaking on Oprah Prime in 2014, Hart said of his height: “I’ve always been comfortable with it, I’m beyond confident. I’m not cocky, I’m so confident. I’m confident in who I am; I’m confident in the person that I am. I think I’m sexy.”
1. Danny DeVito: 1.47m
No actor has gotten as much comedic mileage out of his height as Danny DeVito. Once dubbed “Tinseltown’s Tiny Terror” by Time Magazine, the Matilda and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star has said that his small stature has helped him to remain an enduring force in Hollywood, since, as he put it in an interview with The Guardian: “No casting director is gonna forget the five-foot guy.”
In fact, DeVito is actually closer to four foot 10 (1.47m). His height has been the subject of several comedy sketches, mostly famously his appearance on the hit sitcom Friends, where he played an ageing adult entertainer sent to amuse Pheobe at her bachelorette party.