Actors who became famous after 40

They say that if you want to become famous you need to do it before you hit 30. And while we have been witnessing the rise of stars who find fame at very young age, there are those that can be called late bloomers in the movie business. These people became household names after turning 40.

Samuel L. Jackson








Samuel L. Jackson has starred in over 100 movies and most of them have been after the actor hit the age of 40. Jackson had a few small parts in several movies, including Coming to America and Goodfellas, but it was his portrayal of a crack addict in Spike Lee’s 1991 film Jungle Fever that finally got him noticed.

Jane Lynch








It wasn’t until Jane Lynch was 43 that she got her big break in Best in Show, where she played a lesbian personal dog handler. Lynch was cast in Best in Show because director Christopher Guest remembered her from a “Frosted Flakes” commercial she did in the early 90s. Since then, Lynch went on to take on roles such as the store manager in Judd Apatow’s A 40-Year-Old Virgin and as the harsh high school teacher Sue Sylvester on Glee, which landed her an Emmy.

Betty White

Betty White - Interview







Even though Betty White began her career in the 1940s on radio, and later appeared on late night talk shows and game shows in the 50s and 60s, she wasn’t a household name until, at the age of 51, she began playing Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973-1977). She continued her rise to fame on The Golden Girls from 1985 to 1992. Now, at 92, Betty plays  Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland.

Alan Rickman








Before becoming famous, Alan Rickman ran his own graphic design company with his friends, until he decided he wanted to pursue acting. He began working with various British theater companies, and in 1985, was cast as the Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. His career really took off after his portrayal of Hans Gruber in Die Hard, which led to a varied career of stage and screen work, such as Severus Snape, a professor in Harry Potter.

Morgan Freeman

ca. 2001 --- Morgan Freeman --- Image by © Patrick Swirc/CORBIS OUTLINE







Today he is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, but Morgan Freeman found real fame at the age of 52, playing chauffeur Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy. His film career continued on the fast tract as he starred in many other movies. He won an Oscar for his role in Million Dollar Baby as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from the American Film Institute.

Kathy Bates








Kathy Bates worked steadily both on stage and on screen early in her life, but it was only when she was cast in the thriller Misery at age 42 did she gained prominence as one of the most impressive actors in her generation. Winning the Academy Award for Best Actress, Bates’ career took off, landing her the role in Titanic, Primary Colors, and Disney’s remake of Annie.

John Mahoney








John Mahoney worked as an editor of a medical journal until he decided to pursue acting, joining Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. He won a Tony Award for his performance in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves and landed his breakout role as Martin Crane on Frasier at the age of 53. He received countless Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations for his work on the long-running series. Since then, Mahoney has gone on to do countless films and voice work.


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One response to “Actors who became famous after 40”

  1. Bill says:

    This article once again shows that there is no age for becoming successful, prosperous and popular. When you have a goal and move forward it, the universe will reply you with the positive answer! When there is a will – there is a way as we usually hear! These are bright examples that we should give up on our dreams due to the number in our passports only.