It’s a sad reality that one of the biggest signs you’re getting old is seeing your favourite entertainer move into the twilights of their careers. This is always particularly painful with athletes, as watching a sportsman who, in their prime, was practically a superhero, slowly lose their magic and appear human. It is often difficult for fans to reconcile with and reminds us of our own mortality. However, the world of film and television often isn’t so harsh to the ageing star and ageing can often provide an opportunity for long-time big screen stalwarts to reinvent themselves. In fact, many of Hollywood biggest names seem to hit their primes in their golden years, using their experience in taking on more complex roles and putting out more nuanced performances. With Anthony Hopkins breaking the record for oldest ever winner of Best Actor at the 93rd Oscars last week, we thought it might be a good time to put a spotlight on some senior actors still putting out some outstanding work in their later years. After all, they won’t be around forever, so let’s appreciate them while we can. Here’s three of Hollywood’s most ‘experienced’ leading men who are shining late into their 70’s and 80’s.
There may be no finer example of an actor hitting some incredible late career highs than the great Anthony Hopkins. As mentioned above, the Welshman just made a piece of history last week, winning his second Academy Award for Best Actor at the age of 83, becoming the oldest winner in the 93-year history of the award. His victory came on the back his stunning performance in The Father, playing an ageing man struggling with dementia, in an almost universally acclaimed performance. Beyond his recent big win, Hopkins has been a popular fixture in the MCU since 2011 in the role of Norse God Odin and took home a Primetime Emmy in 2017 for his captivating recurring role as the intimidating creator Robert Ford in HBO’s Westworld. With no major appearances currently on the horizon, we hope we haven’t seen the last of the screen legend, as his turn in The Father shows he still has plenty left to offer.
Samuel L. Jackson
That’s right. I know it might be hard to believe, maybe because it doesn’t look like he’s aged a day in the past 20 years, but the one-time highest paid actor in the world is now at the ripe age of 72. Despite that, his output is still totally absurd. Many of Jackson’s recent credits come from repeatedly being called up for cameo appearances as Nick Fury in MCU movies, but in the last two years, Jackson has also reprised two of his most unappreciated badass characters, returning as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable sequel Glass, and as the titular character in the 2019 reboot of Shaft. As for what’s to come, he isset once again to don some serious weaponry again in another sequel this year in The Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard. While the output will have to slow down eventually, we’re grateful that SLJ seems to be busting out as many stone-cold killer performances as he can before his ageing exterior starts making the big screen badassery a bit farfetched.
Robert De Niro
One of the most decorated actors of his generation, Robert De Niro doesn’t seem to be done shooting for the big accolades just yet. After a rather light-hearted stretch in the mid 2010’s seeing him take on a lot of fun but mostly forgettable comedies (no ones putting Last Vegas or Bad Grandpa on their all-time list), the 77-year-old icon got back to his roots in 2019 with some terrific dramatic performances in Joker and The Irishman. Despite a quiet 2020, De Niro has several intriguing credits on the horizon, including a project titled Killers of the Flower Moon, which is being directed by De Niro’s longtime collaborative partner, Martin Scorsese. With both men in their late 70’s, who wouldn’t love to see one more masterpiece from the dynamic duo in the next 12 months? Based on his last few performances, we know De Niro still has it in him.
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