The Southern-born actor stars opposite Jennifer Lopez in ''An Unfinished Life'' and battles robot planes in ''Stealth''

Age 34

Mustworthiness This Southern-born son of political activists deserves a spot on our list for his work ethic: In the next year, you’ll see the man who out-hotted Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama star in the basketball drama Glory Road, one long-awaited J. Lo flick (An Unfinished Life), and this summer’s evil-robot-fighter-plane blockbuster, Stealth.

He’s So Demanding Exhaling cigarette smoke out the open door of his New York City apartment, the man we named 2003’s It Heartthrob sighs, ”Can I be It Brilliant Actor this time?”

On His Must List Lucas imbues adjectives with an almost whispered vehemence: The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey, is ”magnificent.” Scarlett Johansson is ”spectacularly beautiful and alive.” Benicio Del Toro is just ”brilliant.”

Pump Up the Volume And Christian Slater, with whom he recently starred in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway? ”Fantastic. Absolutely comfortable with himself — it’s a lesson to be around him.”

Next Wolfgang Petersen’s remake of The Poseidon Adventure; plus: ”There’s a pantheon of directors out there that I really want to be pushed by.” Paging Paul Thomas Anderson. . .