'I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whisky and you. What else do you need to know?" This is Johnny Depp as serial bank robber and sometime murderer John Dillinger, who ran rings around a fledgling FBI in 1930s America and became something of a folk hero.
I re-watched the film about his life, Public Enemies, for about the fourth time when it was on ITV last week and I may have rewound (several times) the scene where he delivers that speech to his soon to be 'girl', (the ravishing) Marion Cotillard.
The kicker to the scene, post-speech, is Dillinger holding aloft her red coat, such is his confidence that she will leave with him. A very souped-up version of "Get your coat, love, you've pulled".
Now I'm sure various tweeting thumbs will be itching as they read this but... you've got to love a bad boy. The interesting question, though, is why? For me, it's the charm that's the killer. The killer charm. I know that Public Enemies is a movie; I also know that Johnny Depp is significantly more handsome than John Dillinger ever was; I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to go out with a bank robber who has a sideline in shooting innocent people, BUT I'm a sucker for a man who can give a charismatic speech. So shoot me.
Take my bad boy. He's more of a Britpop shoe-gazer than your classic James Dean type. And, beyond the usual, I'm pretty sure he's law-abiding and non-violent. But – and it's a big but – he has that killer charm. And wit. And a dazzling ability to disappear for days on end without a single word of warning. What he isn't is dull. Where he's concerned, there will always be adventure and he has this unrivalled ability to send me silly with a well-delivered piece of prose. The modern-day bad boy: he might not be robbing banks, but he's a bitch to pin down over email. Erm, hot.
I read an interview with Anjelica Huston recently and her comments on her 17-year relationship with Jack Nicholson were illuminating in this sense. It wasn't his wild side that attracted her, but his charm. "Charm is the worst," she said. "You can't deny it, and you can't pretend that it's not there... it's a dangerous element, charm."
So what to do? I say, embrace it, be charming and dangerous yourself, and bring the good times on. Failing that, press rewind on your favourite bad boy movie scenes and take a cold shower.