There is no man in Hollywood as tall, as popular, or as beautiful as Jacob Elordi. The 26-year-old Australian is having a breakout winter: First he played Elvis Presley as a himbo in Sofia Coppola’s vibey dollhouse nightmare Priscilla, and soon his handsomeness will cause everyone around him to lose their minds in Emerald Fennell’s upcoming Saltburn. But there is also no man in Hollywood nearly so babygirl.
How can a man tall enough (6’5”, as we are legally obligated to note) to be a combo guard for the Los Angeles Lakers be a little girl, specifically a baby one? It’s all in his too-adorable-for-words demeanor and disarming interview answers. Even his enormous height gets a babygirl reaction: When the actor says how tall he is out loud in front of an audience, people are moved to clap like it is an achievement.
Elordi says his first celebrity crushes were Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Brad Pitt’s Achilles in Troy. Elordi thinks Kylie Minogue is a national treasure. Elordi loves carrying handbags — the Louis Vuitton Speedy, Bottega Veneta’s Andiamo and smaller Cassette crossbody, Valentino’s Lóco — because he loses things but also because he gets bored and needs things like small books, tiny watches, and little pens with him at all times. The best movie Elordi says he’s seen all year is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. He’s seen it four times.
Altogether this amalgam of qualities and tidbits about Elordi — the teen crush on Legolas, the reverence for Kylie Minogue that falls at the intersection of Australians and gay millennials, the cool-girl collection of handbags, the boyish joy at TMNT, and the security to be able to talk about this all without embarrassment — is a portrait of a 6’5” man as the ultimate babygirl. Elordi is redefining what it means to be a Hollywood hunk.
Think about the hottest Hollywood hunk you know. He’s a babygirl, right?
Jacob Elordi’s apparent ascent to leading man status is a tricky thing, mostly because it’s coming at a time when we’re all reevaluating what a “leading man” even is.
Part of that is tied to an industry, dominated by franchises and streaming, in which movie stars have gone extinct. The age of actors and actresses so charismatic that you’ll buy a ticket to see them in anything is allegedly finished. Most young actors are pushed into the Marvel/Warner Bros./Fast and Furious assembly line, and never really transcend being Spider-Man, Aquaman, or a Toretto “family” member.
At the same time, there’s been a larger cultural reckoning about the kind of men we’ve admired, why we thought so highly of them, and if we should still. The Me Too movement showed that many people we collectively thought were good guys, in Hollywood and beyond, treated the people in their lives, primarily women, in pretty demeaning and abusive ways. We’ve begun to use language like “toxic masculinity” to point out the negative effects — aggression, violence, sexism, homophobia, et al. — of holding onto outdated masculine norms. The biggest movie of the year is about the patriarchy ruining Barbie’s feminist utopia.
Success in Hollywood today means swerving away from the way male stars have traditionally positioned themselves in the recent past. He has to be known, but not oversaturated — if Elordi were to do a Marvel movie already, we’d get sick of him. He has to be sexy, but can’t be sexy in a way that reminds us of how awful some sexy men can be. He has to reject toxic masculinity, but he can’t be too direct about it, lest he come off as a kind of latter-day Matt McGorry. He has to be a good guy, but he can’t be bland.
To do this, he’s leaned into his own babygirlification.
Babygirl, as a term of endearment, has existed long before Elordi and will outlive him. The word has taken on a new meaning in the last couple years, bubbling up in stan/fandom culture as a way of softening male actors and characters into cute, harmless, if not quirky creatures. The process of babygirling infantilizes characters like Kendall Roy from Succession, Cillian Murphy’s Oppenheimer from Oppenheimer, and Breaking Bad’s meth-dealing protagonists, men who do not remotely present as baby or girl. The greater the gulf of contrast between a man, real or fake, and his inner babygirl, the more ironic and funnier the transformation becomes.
There’s a sensitive little sweetie inside of everyone, but especially these guys. Their complicated actions only make them more sympathetic because they’ve suffered in committing them. He’s not just selling meth or creating atomic bombs, he’s babygirl!
Decent guys can be babygirl too, though. At its heart, the term of affection represents the desire to meme grown men into gentle, manageable things. In this way, it’s not much different from the rise of himbos, big dick energy (BDE), daddies, or big muscle soft boys. While the taxonomy of these types vary (e.g., one needs to be a certain age to qualify as daddy), the throughline between all of these cultural categories is the rejection of toxic masculinity and the misogyny that comes with it — part of that greater cultural reckoning about the kind of good men we value.
For any type of New Good Man, being violent or aggressive or emotionally illiterate — i.e., remotely reminiscent of an incel — is an automatic disqualification. Emotional vulnerability and security in your own masculinity are commonalities. The act of identifying a babygirl or saying he’s daddy or that he has BDE is a way of pointing out the good qualities we seek in men.
Elordi’s no-fuss comments about his same-sex crushes or the purses he wears exude this secure masculinity. Adding a disclaimer or clarifying anything would signify some kind of worry or implicit acknowledgment of that outdated mode of manhood.
Elordi has talked about witnessing this kind of toxicity first-hand; in school, he was called gay for wanting to act in plays and musicals. He told GQ in 2021 that in his mind, he saw nothing wrong with being gay, even if his classmates meant it to be an insult. Instead of changing his behavior to avoid torment, he went with it.
“When they said I was gay, I remember leaning into the makeup,” Elordi told GQ, adding that he would wear glitter and dab eyeshadow onto his eyelids. “I was like, if I’m going to be the King of the Fairies, I’m going to be the fucking hottest King of the Fairies you’ve ever seen ... I started welcoming those kinds of characters. I started welcoming the femininity. I started speaking with my hands. I started really playing the thespian.”
Elordi, in other words, actively started being babygirl.
Babygirls aren’t born, they’re made
While Elordi became an overnight success with The Kissing Booth (a movie he has since said isn’t very good), he achieved new levels of cultural relevance thanks to his portrayal of Nate Jacobs in Sam Levinson’s Euphoria. By the time he was playing Elvis in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, he was a bona fide critical hit. Both those men — insecure, manipulative, even abusive — couldn’t be more different than Babygirl Elordi himself.
Elordi will be the first to tell you.
When asked about how it felt to play Elvis Presley during the Priscilla press tour, Elordi responded that he had been unfamiliar with the American legend’s music and only knew of him as a tertiary character in the 2002 animated film Lilo and Stitch.
One of the most difficult things about Elvis, Elordi says, was eating bacon. The actor tried to eat a pound of bacon every day to play the real man. Unfortunately for Elordi, consuming that salty pork fat didn’t actually have much effect because, well, if you haven’t heard, he is tall. “It’s not that noticeable because I’m quite long, but I was the biggest I’ve ever been,” he said.
Eating pounds of bacon and not putting on weight? Life can be so hard for long men.
To fully grasp Elordi’s response requires remembering the turbulent time in which fellow popular young actor Austin Butler reminded us constantly how much work — dialect coaches, two karate senseis, singing experts, a self-made archive of every Elvis performance ever recorded, the actual ghost of the King — went into his own portrayal of the superstar. “In that moment, it really felt as though my life was on the line. Because acting is the core of my life,” Butler told the Academy in 2023.
What Butler makes seem like a grueling, life-altering experience, Elordi demystifies into a children’s movie. A babygirl would never kill himself to play Elvis.
Still, with just a Disney movie in his research file, Elordi’s performance has been lauded as capturing Elvis’s spirit, his voice, his charisma. You half expect Elordi to mutter Reese Witherspoon’s infamous line from Legally Blonde: “What, like it’s [playing Elvis] hard?”
Add to that Elordi’s aforementioned love of tiny purses, appreciation for Kylie Minogue, teenage crushes, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pick for Best Picture of the year, and this man couldn’t be more babygirl if he tried (and he is trying). While these interviews primarily become a way for Elordi to present himself as adorable, they also create a distance between the image of Jacob Elordi, potential movie star, and the acidic, abusive men he’s so good at playing. The latter is an act, and becomes all that much more of a feat when you consider the soft and gentle place he’s coming from.
Elordi’s next big role is playing Felix, the hottest and sweetest rich guy at Oxford, in Emerald Fennell’s wicked movie Saltburn. Felix is a character who is closer to how Elordi presents himself to the public: gentle, affable, so nice and beautiful that everyone basically turns into mush around him. There’s a cutting line in the movie about how everyone puts on their best performance around gorgeous Felix, hoping to get the slightest bit of his attention — but they’re so preoccupied with his beauty and gentleness that they can’t recognize that he’s putting on a performance too. Perhaps, they don’t see that performance because they don’t want to. Perhaps, we all just want to see Jacob Elordi perform, whatever it looks like.