There are a lot of people who achieve success before their 30s or 40s, but building a career can take a long time. In fact, working hard and believing in yourself for years often pays off, even if you can’t see it at the time. Having the courage to try something new when you are older is another level of inspiration and proves to us that it’s never too late to try something new.
That’s why we, at Bright Side, have collected this list of actors who made it big later in life — to show that age really is just a number and success can happen at any age.
1. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman was 52 when he got his big break in movies. The first was Lean On Me, and the second was Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was nominated for (and won!) a Golden Globe. He continued his streak of incredible performances with his role in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe, Oscar, and Screen Actors’ Guild Award.
2. Betty White
Born in 1922, Betty White produced and starred in her first TV show, Life with Elizabeth, in 1949. But she shot to fame in the 1970s when she was in her 50s, with her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. From 1985 to 1992 she starred as Rose on Golden Girls. As she got older, she just kept working and was a beloved film and TV star throughout her life. She earned a total of 17 Emmy nominations in her career and won 7.
3. Rainn Wilson
Rainn Wilson had a lot of minor roles in film and TV after moving to L.A. But his big break didn’t come until he was 39 years old. This is when he was cast as Dwight Schrute in The Office. The TV show was incredibly popular and ran for a total of 10 seasons.
4. Alan Rickman
Best known for movies like the Harry Potter series and Love Actually, Alan Rickman wasn’t always a movie star. He started working in theater with the Royal Shakespeare Company in his 30s. But it wasn’t until 1988, in his 40s, when he was nominated for a Tony Award for Les Liasons Dangereuses on Broadway, and his first film role, as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, came out in America.
5. Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren began her successful acting career in the theater in London. But she didn’t shoot to fame until she was in her 50s, when she was cast in 2 movies, Gosford Park and Calendar Girls. She earned her first Oscar nomination when she was 61, for her performance in The Queen.
6. Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur started her career in theater, on Broadway. But she didn’t make it to TV until she was 50. She starred in the TV show Maude, which was a huge success. She went on to enjoy further success on the hit show Golden Girls, which she starred in with Betty White.
7. Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer was pretty much unknown before age 39, when she starred in The Help. Since then, she has starred in films like Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water. She has even earned 3 Oscar nominations for her work and won one Oscar.
8. Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper had some small roles in television as a young actor. But his big break wasn’t until the age of 36, when he got the role in The Hangover. He went on to star in huge commercial successes like 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, for which he earned Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors’ Guild Award nominations. He also moved into directing, with his first project being A Star Is Born, where he starred opposite Lady Gaga.
9. Larry David
Larry David began his career writing for the comedy show Saturday Night Live. But he didn’t make it big until he co-created the successful TV show Seinfeld, with Jerry Seinfeld, when he was 42. After Seinfeld ended, he created and starred in the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm. This was the beginning of an acting career for David too.
Which of these actors is your favorite? What career advice would you give to your younger self?