NEW YORK — Matthew McConaughey has been named the “sexiest man alive” by People magazine.

The actor is pictured on the cover of People’s annual issue, on newsstands Friday. For the 36-year-old McConaughey, it’s a clear sign that his career is in the midst of an upturn — and that his girlfriend, Penelope Cruz, may be rubbing off on him.

“Now I’ve made it,” he told the magazine. “Wait until you see the roles I could take after this. You’re going to see my gut hanging over, plus 22 (pounds). It’ll be a whole new kind of sexy!”

McConaughey is the 20th “sexiest man” for People, who first bequeathed the honor to Mel Gibson in 1985. The magazine credited McConaughey’s “heaping helping of Texas’s finest Southern charm” for the choice.

But he says the part of the title that he’s proud of isn’t “sexiest”: “I like the ‘alive’ part.”

The actor, whose career began with “Dazed and Confused” and “A Time to Kill,” starred this year in the action flick “Sahara” and alongside Al Pacino in “Two for the Money.”

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On the Net:

http://people.aol.com/people

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