I see actors get depressed about their twenties ending. There seems to be a trend of people who think that with the end of their twenties comes the end of the possibility that they might just get lucky with one of their performances and be catapulted into the spotlight. Actors start trying to find another passion, or they stop taking their art seriously. They start feeling stale, and not trying.
While hopelessness is not strange to any of us in this business, ClaimFame is here to tell you that just because you feel like you’re hitting a mid-life slump doesn’t mean that you should ever give up. This industry embraces you for being you, no matter what you look like or what age you happen to be. Your age is a blessing, so here are twelve stars who made it after 30:
Lupita Nyong’o. Made it at 31.
You know: the internationally sensational, fabulously fashionable, brilliantly beautiful, and phenomenally talented Lupita that just broke into national consciousness? She is 31 years old. It took her 31 years to break into hollywood with one of the most gut wrenching performances we have ever seen in Twelve Years a Slave (2013). Way to go Lupita. You earned that Oscar.
John Hamm. Made it at 35.
John Hamm was a high school teacher until he claimed fame in 2007 with his chillingly good performance as Don Draper in Mad Men. Since coming under the spotlight, Hamm has been featured in multiple roles that show his range as an actor, and has been featured as a sex icon time and time again. John Hamm matured like a fine wine, and his age was his asset in getting him his biggest role.
James Gandolfini. Made it at age 38.
James Gandolfini’s notoriously mindblowing performance as Tony Soprano, the patriarch and lead in HBO’s The Sopranos, put him in the spotlight in 1999, but did you know Gandolfini didn’t really make it as an actor until he got that famous role? He is now immortalized in TV history as one of the greats, but up until 38 he was a virtual unknown.
Lucille Ball. Made it at age 40.
Lucy’s deceivingly youthful looks and demeanor on her show may throw you off, but I Love Lucy only started in 1951 when Lucille Ball was already 40 years old. Up until that point she was still not widely on the public radar. Seeing as reruns of I Love Lucy are still played on TV, Lucille Ball’s mid-life claim of fame has clearly not faded.
Steve Carrell. Made it at age 43.
Steve Carrell was widely known in comedy circuits and had been successful in various smaller roles in feature films, but in 2005 The 40 Year Old Virgin sent him into stardom at 43 years old. Steve Carrell simply did what he loved for decades until it got him exactly where he needed to be.
Samuel L. Jackson. Made it at age 45.
Though Samuel L. Jackson was in many films leading up to his success, he was widely unknown until his terrific performance in 1994 as Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction. At age 45 after having worked in the film industry for decades, his talent and ambition brought him notoriety that has left him one of Hollywood’s hottest stars.
Margo Martindale. Made it at age 52.
Margo Martindale had many smaller roles on TV and on stage before her Tony winning and fame kick-starting performance as Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2004, and has been met with wild success in multiple blockbusters ever since.
Morgan Freeman. Made it at age 57.
Morgan Freeman had numerous supporting roles in feature films where he was typically typecast as the strong, father figure, but in 1994 at age 57 Freeman landed the role of Red in Shawshank Redemption and was catapulted into serious success. Now Freeman is a constant highlight in Hollywood, and his late in life stardom isn’t even on anyone’s radar.
Regis Philbin. Made it at age 57.
Regis Philbin worked behind the scenes for years before becoming a talk show host, and even then it was a slow start until Live With Regis and Kelly came along in 1983 when he was 57. At 57 years old, Philbin found national notoriety and finally made it big after working at what he was best at for decades.
Dame Judi Densch. Made it at age 61.
Dame Judi Densch was widely known in British theater for decades before she shot into cinematic fame, but boy, what a rise to fame it was. Appearing when she was 61 on screen in the 1995 Bond flick Golden Eye, Densch became an instant sensation.
Estelle Getty. Made it at age 62.
While Estelle Getty was well established in various smaller theater and comedy communities, she didn’t find stardom until she was 62 and landed the role of Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls in 1992. Her late in life success is nothing to turn your nose up to – Getty was a seven-time Emmy nominee, a two time Golden Globe nominee, and even won one Golden Globe for her unforgettable performances on The Golden Girls before her death in 2008.
Martha Stewart. Made it at age 64.
Martha Stewart didn’t even think about home improvement until she was 30 years old, and her show, Martha Stewart Living, didn’t even air until 1993 when she was 64. At 64 years old, Stewart became big enough to get her own half hour on international television each week, and a lifetime of work was behind that final push into stardom.