By Nicolas Pinzon
1. Jane Lynch: Lynch was a struggling actress until the age of 43. She had appeared in a few commercials and had small secondary roles in the films Vice Versa and The Fugitive, but it wasn’t until director Christopher Guest cast her in his mockumentary, Best in Show, that she finally had her first staring role. Now, Jane Lynch is an Emmy award winning actress who has starred in multiple Hollywood films and on the Broadway stage.
2. Jeremy Renner: Before he was known as the star of blockbuster films like The Bourne Supremacy and The Avengers, Renner was taking small guest roles and working part-time as a make up artist just to get by. At the age of 38, Renner was cast in the small war film the Hurt Locker and things were never the same for him again. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, and the film went on to win best picture. Now, Renner is a two-time Academy Award nominee and a bona fide star.
3. Kristen Wiig: Kristen Wiig had to wait until after her 32nd birthday to land her breakout appearance on SNL, and she had to wait for her 33rd to become a full time member of the show. Before that, Wiig was guest starring in spoof reality television shows and performing at The Empty Stage Comedy Theater. After the success of Bridesmaids, a film she co-wrote and starred in, Wiig is having no problem finding her place on the big screen.
4. John Mahoney: For most of his life Mahoney was an editor for a medical Journal, a job he did not enjoy. In his mid-30s Mahoney quit his job, enrolled in acting classes, and decided to pursue his dreams. Encouraged by veteran actor John Malkovich, Mahoney kept at it and went on to win a Tony award. But it wasn't until the age of 53 that the actor finally got his big break when he was cast as a regular on Frasier, The longest running Sitcom of all time. Mahoney is now also an accomplished theater and voice over artist.
5. Kathy Bates: Bates was working regularly from a relatively early age, guest starring in minor roles both on the stage and on the small screen. But it wasn’t until the actress turned 42 that Hollywood really noticed her. The relatively unknown actress landed a starring role in the thriller Misery and her life was never the same. Bates received the Academy Award that year and went on to star in huge hits like Titanic and American Horror Story.
6. Morgan Freeman: This iconic actor began acting at the age of five, but did not get any recognition until he landed a job on the NBC soap opera, Another World, in his late 30’s. Yet, it wasn’t until his early 50’s when he landed the iconic role in the film Driving Miss Daisy that he became a household name. Morgan Freeman is now an Academy Award winner and one of the world’s biggest movie stars.
7. Melissa McCarthy: Even though this comedic powerhouse had an earlier recurring secondary part in the, The Gilmore Girls, and landed a title role in the sitcom Mike & Molly, McCarthy wasn’t considered a star by any means until she appeared in the comedy phenomenon Bridesmaids (written by Kristen Wiig.) By that time Melissa was in her early 40’s. She has gone on to star in Identity Thief, opposite Jason Bateman and The Heat, opposite Sandra Bullock, and most recently Spy.
8. Samuel L. Jackson: Another case of an actor who was not by any means established. Samuel L. Jackson was cast in forgettable roles in prominent films like Goodfellas and Do the Right Thing. It was a 45-year-old Samuel L. Jackson who eventually got cast in Quentin Tarantino’s low budget classic Pulp Fiction, and went on to become a star. Today Jackson continues to star in Hollywood blockbusters like the Star Wars prequels and The Avengers.
9. Jon Hamm: The Mad Men star didn’t get his break out role until the age of 36. Before that, Hamm was actually a struggling actor waiting tables in LA and living paycheck to paycheck. He was able to become a full time actor when he was cast on the TV drama Providence, but it wasn’t until he got cast in Mad Men a few years later that he really hit it big. Now he is a two time Emmy nominated actor and one of TV’s biggest stars.
10. Lucille Ball: Everybody didn’t always love Lucille Ball. Actually it wasn’t until Ball was 40 that she created and starred in the show that bore her nickname and made her a star, I Love Lucy. Lucy became a four-time Emmy Award winning actress with that show and received 13 nominations in total. Without a doubt, this woman who in her 30’s was relatively unknown, in her 40’s became an icon through the show she created for herself and her husband. After the show ended, Ball continued to act both on film and on stage.
These actors refused to give up on their aspirations and kept pursuing their dreams. That’s something we can all learn from. If one door closes remember another always opens. When all is said and done, determination is the greatest differentiator.
Who is your favorite actor who got a late start?