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His Royal Hiney
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Oddball's comment that some actors just don't get getter with age in the "Scent of the Woman, got me to thinking about the corollary: who are the actors that got better with age?

My immediate thought was Gene Hackman. I've heard of him from The French Connection which I haven't seen. But I've seen him in Superman (1978), Unforgiven, Enemy of the State, and Hoosiers.

One quote from Superman which I still remember is Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor saying, "Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it's a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe."

Hoosiers was where I was impressed with his acting ability because it was more than halfway through the movie when I figured out who he was. To me, a good actor is someone who can play a character and "hides" to some extent who they are.

Who are your nominations for actors who got better with age and why?

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Morgan Freeman
Jeff Bridges
J.K. Simmons
Helen Mirren
Julianne Moore
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Fines Nihil
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DiCaprio immediately came to mind.
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Two who starred in the same movie:

Josh Brolin
Ryan Gosling

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Clint Eastwood. He really got it going in his 60’s.

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Sean Connery. The more distance he put between himself and Bond, the better he gets.

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Easily Christopher Walken. No doubt.

Christian Bale too. And Arnold. See "Killing Gunther" if you doubt it.
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Robert Duvall, Jon Voight.

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Still relatively young but Joseph Gordon-Levitt has generally improved over time.

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This thread title should be changed to, "Actors who get better past age 60."

As an actor, you hope to make it big - big enough to headline major movies and have have that earning power and clout that comes with that. If you're lucky, you'll make the A-list before age 40, and after that, you'll have 15-20 years where you can afford to be picky about your roles and cement your status as a great actor. A minority will continue to challenge themselves and turn in great work. Most 60-something A-listers reach a point of, 'What left do I have to prove?'

At this point, they can coast on their name recognition, reputations, and phone-in their performances for easy paychecks. Laurence Olivier? One of his last roles was Zeus in Clash of the Titans. Who can forget one of Marlon Brando's last roles in The Island of Dr Moreau? Do you think Orson Welles would want to be remembered for his role in Transformers: the Movie?

Gene Hackman (born 1930) made a name for himself in the early 1970s with The French Connection and The Conversation (his favorite performance). By then he was in his early 40s. In 1992, he turned in another career-making performance in Unforgiven. For the next ten or so years after that, he phoned it in. When you wanted someone to play a stubborn, gruff, acerbic attorney, politician, military XO, or sports coach, you'd call Hackman's agent. 2001, he turned in one more great performance in The Royal Tenenbaums, and shortly after that, he retired.

Al Pacino did The Godfather in 1972 and Scent of a Woman in 1992. You look at his work between those years, and it's one star-making performance after another. In Pacino's case his descent starts about ten years early. In 1992, he was 52, and as most will concede, he's been playing a caricature of his role in Scent since then.

Think about the work other actors turned in past age 60.

Harrison Ford: Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Richard Kimball - most actors would kill for just one of those star-making turns. He's 75 now. Are their any of his movies you think of fondly that he's done in the past 10-15 years?

Dustin Hoffman is 80, and I think he's been phoning it in since Rain Man.

Sean Connery is retired, but when you think of all the films he did past age 60, all it required of him was to 'be Sean Connery'.

De Niro's last great role was maybe Ronin or Heat. Like Pacino, he has settled into playing a caricature of himself. The same can be said for The Deer Hunter co-star, Christopher Walken.

The last 20-30 years of Jack Nicholson's career have been him playing Jack Nicholson.

Daniel Day-Lewis is considered the actor's actor. He turned 60 this year, and announced his retirement.

Meryl Streep is still turning in A+ work. Dame Judi Dench too, although she also tends to be typecast.

Morgan Freeman is on Hollywood speed dial #1 when you need a Magical Negro. He was Academy Award nominated for his role as a pimp in Street Smart (1987). It's interesting to see how his roles took a 180 from then.

I agree Clint Eastwood is someone whose work got a lot better past age 60. Tom Hanks is only 61, so I think he remains to be seen.

Others like DiCaprio and Gosling are still in their primes, even though they've been in the business since they were children. I don't think it's fair to say they got better with age, given their relative youth. That's like saying a pro athlete got better with age when he reached his mid-20s.
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Robert Downey Junior

Anthony Hopkins.


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For me, I think Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Gene Hackman and John Wayne became better after their "prime". Gary Oldman is still a valid, talented actor after decades in the business. IMO, Bruce Willis became a better "actor" as he aged.

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Iron chef, I pretty much disagree with everything you wrote.

BTW, DiCaprio is 43

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Liam Neeson. He was awesome in Battleship (yeah, I know, major cheesefest).

Been Afleck seemed to mature from a major douche actor into a decent Bruce Wayne. . .

Matt Damon was excellent in The Martian.

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The Unknown
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Gary Oldman
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Originally posted by bionic218:
Gary Oldman

The best.

I can't imagine:

...from anyone else.

And while some of his more recent stuff isn't quite so dramatic, he draws you in.
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Originally posted by TMats:
Iron chef, I pretty much disagree with everything you wrote.

I pretty much agreed with everything he wrote. Pacino, DeNiro... they've all been Big fat Elvis for a long time.

("Big fat Elvis", like William Shatner, meaning just doing a bad impression of themselves)

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Lot of good names have already been mentioned! But, I find myself following Gary Oldman more and more. Just did a bunch of reading on him this past week.

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Gotta mention McConaughey. He still plays versions of himself from Dazed and Confused every now and then but things like True Detective, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, et. Al. Have shown a lot of progression.

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