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Actors Who Started Late

Updated: May 24, 2020

If you are looking for a reason to learn how to become an actor or how to get into acting, you have come to the right place. Becoming an actor may not be the easiest thing to do but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Odds are many people will tell you not to become an actor because it is a risky business when it comes to paying the bills and especially if you’re older. Nevertheless, it is possible to become successful at anything, despite your age.

It’s never too late to become a successful actor. Although some may believe that you must begin acting early to be successful, examples from current famous actors suggest otherwise. Below are some of my favorite actors who started late or achieved success late in their career because they didn’t let except any excuse and they took action embracing the opportunity.

Christopher Plummer – He was 82 when he won an Oscar for "Beginners," and 88 when he was nominated for "All the Money in the World." His career spanned eight decades and includes playing Captain von Trapp in the 1965 movie “The Sound of Music.” He aspired to become a concert pianist.

Betty White – I know she wasn’t a late bloomer, but I must mention her. She is my idol! Who doesn’t know Betty White! She said, “You’re never too old for anything!” and I agree. Born January 1922, she grew up as an only child to an electrical engineer and a homemaker. She has been acting since 1939 and is presently acting in 2020.

It is never too late to pursue a career in acting. Let’s look of some of my favorite late bloomers who didn’t become famous until after 50.

Jessica Tandy, born in 1909, in London, appeared in over 100 staged productions and had more than 60 roles in television and film. She received a Golden Globe Award, a Primetime Emmy Award and an Academy Award. Jessica was 80 years old when she won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in “Driving Miss Daisy”. She appeared in over 100 stage productions in television and film and received numerous awards.

Morgan Freeman - is I 82 years old as I write this and still acting. He too was in “Driving Miss Daisy”. He was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. He is an American actor and film narrator. Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor with Million Dollar Baby and received Oscar nominations for his performances in Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus. These are just some of my favorites.

I must tell you my Morgan Freeman story! I was a National Guardsman in the movie Contact. I didn’t have scripted lines, but I was able to adlib a few. I was really an extra, but I felt like a star. Morgan Freeman was one of the principals in the movie. In fact, he was the president. I was really excited about meeting him and every time I showed up, I never met him. Typical, when they are shooting movies. Well finally, when the movie cam out, I went to see it and low and behold, I saw Morgan Freeman in the scene where my scene was supposed to be. I never saw my part in the movie. I was mad at Morgan Freeman and he didn’t even know me. I laughed all the way home because sometimes that happens in your career and while you can let it discourage you, you must take it with a grain of salt.

Clint Eastwood, 89 years old as I write this. He was the oldest director to win an academy award. Not only is he an actor to this day but he is a filmmaker, musician and is into politics. Clint was also a soldier, as I am, and in the army and served in the Korean War. His career shows you can do anything.

Jack Nicholson is one of my favorite actors too. He was almost 61 years old when he received “best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in “As Good as It Gets. He has got to be one of the best actors to work with when you are an extra in a movie that he is in. I remember being an extra and watching him relate to the extras and the people passing by in Washington, DC. Normally, extras, which are background actors, don’t just strike up a conversation with the principal actors, but Jack didn’t mind striking up a conversation with the extras.

Regis Philbin is 88 years old as I write this. Someone said he is the hardest working man in show business. He is an American actor, singer and media personality hosting talk and game shows since the 1960s. He also served in the military just like I did. He is my inspiration as well. Do you know that he holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera? You may know him from Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee which became Live! With Regis and Kelly starting in 2001. Some of the game shows he hosted were Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Million Dollar Password and the first season of America’s Got Talent. He was from the Bronx, New York just like me.

Meryl Streep -70. Did you know her name was Mary Louise Streep and her Mum gave her the name Meryl. She study opera singing at a young age.

Danny Glover was a hit in Lethal Weapon and The Color purple. Well he worked as a city administrator doing community planning. At thirty-one, he quit his job and decided to become an actor.

Samuel L. Jackson is an actor who don’t age. It’s hard to believe he was once addicted to cocaine and heroin before he starred in Pulp Fiction with John Travolta. He was forty-six.

Billy Bob Thornton was an asphalt layer and a college drop out. He started acting at thirty-one.

Your path is not anybody else’s, and nobody else’s path is yours. Paths can be similar, or even overlap, but they are not identical. You don’t need to ask yourself questions such as, “what actor do I look like?” or “what actor am I inspired by?” or “which actor has been in the most movies?” because you think it will lead you to a career. Actors pursue inspiration, and often it is channeled from within. Importantly, inspiration arises in a collaborative effort between other actors and the audience and it could happen at any time in your life.

Let’s sit age aside and learn what you need to learn how to get into acting at 30, 40, 50 or 60 and up. I am learning a lot as I journey into my second career but more important as you journey with me, remember this. Not all actors start their career fresh out of high school or in their twenties. A little acting advice from me to you is to learn the acting basics. The key is to find out who you are as an actor and be that person in many characters. There are roles for everything, including the role that is your perfect fit, but how do you get started?

What are your thoughts on this?

Who is your favorite older actor/actress?

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