Join the Club
Their ages range from 65 to 80, but the stars of the new romantic comedy "Book Club" remain A-list actors with a captivating screen presence. Click through for more on them and other actresses over 50 who are doing some of their best work ever.
Diane Keaton, 72
Her days as the Oscar-winning "Annie Hall" are more than 40 years past, and at 72 she concedes that when under the movie lights, "The dimmer is your friend." Still, Diane Keaton—who refuses to submit to cosmetic surgery—remains a captivating presence on screens both big and small, co-starring in HBO's "The Young Pope" as well as "Book Club." In her 2014 autobiography, Keaton wrote: "Major corporate boards require us to resign at 65. Yet 42 percent of us are delaying retirement. Some 25 percent of us claim we'll never retire, and all of us refuse to acknowledge our coming demise. Who cares if the U.S. government has proclaimed us old? We're not letting go."
Frances McDormand, 60
One of the few performers who have won "the Triple Crown of Acting" (an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony), Frances McDormand seems to just be hitting her stride, having recently received an Academy Award—her second—for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." And an essential part of that film is McDormand's face, which she refuses to tamper with. "No one is supposed to age past 45—sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally," she says. "Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face. But your face is the map. It's the roadmap."
Helen Mirren, 72
"You either die young or you get older. That's the reality," says Helen Mirren. And few performers have aged more gracefully on screen than the 72-year-old Oscar winner. With a film career that began in 1968, Mirren now has more than 100 movies to her credit, with eight projects in 2018 alone, and she just keeps getting better. Still, Mirren has been outspoken on the subject of ageism in Hollywood, particularly with what she sees as a double-standard when it comes to casting women. "It's ridiculous " she says. "And 'twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It's so annoying."
Salma Hayek, 51
With her own production company and the success of her 2002 Oscar-nominated film "Frida," Hayek became a player in Hollywood with control over her career, and now the Mexican-born star looks forward to its maturing phase. "Sometimes with age, you get better characters," she says. "I love to play the mother, and I'll be excited to play the grandmother. How boring to play that sexy part for the rest of my life. I think I'd shoot myself."
Lily Tomlin, 78
Lily Tomlin got her big break on the 1960s TV show "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" and has worked steadily and memorably ever since. But she didn't land her first solo starring role until the 2015 film "Grandma," for which she received some of the best reviews of her life. More recently, Tomlin has faced the subject of aging head-on in the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie," which co-stars her "9 to 5" pal Jane Fonda. "As time goes, you're so aware of time," says Tomlin. "When you're 30 or even 40, you're aware. But as I've gotten older and time is definitely whittling out, I'm certainly not so terrified of it or stricken by it."
Jane Fonda, 80
In films ranging from "Cat Ballou" to "Klute" to "Coming Home," Jane Fonda has long lived up to her famous last name. And even after a decade-long retirement from the screen in the 1990s, the two-time Oscar winner was able to jump back into the game in the new millennium. Now co-starring with Lily Tomlin in "Book Club" as well as "Grace and Frankie," Fonda sees a need to rethink our attitude toward aging: "The old paradigm was, You're born, you peak at midlife, and then you decline into decrepitude. Looking at aging as ascending a staircase, you gain well-being, spirit, soul, wisdom, the ability to be truly intimate, living life with intention."
Sandra Bullock, 53
Oscar winner Sandra Bullock remains one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses and biggest box office stars. And aging in movies has been relatively easy for her, as she tells it. "I've never been a great beauty," Bullock says. "I've never been the bombshell that was coveted. In an odd way, that has made growing older a lot easier in this business. I guess I'm doing it on my own terms, and that is my wish for everyone."
Viola Davis, 52
She's been an actress for over 30 years and won both an Oscar and a Tony, but it's Viola Davis' Emmy-winning portrayal of law professor Annalise Keating on ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder" that prompted the Los Angeles Times to recently say, "All eyes are on Davis." It's the kind of under-the-magnifying-glass attention she's well prepared for. "What's released me most from the fear of aging is self-awareness," Davis says. "I've never determined my value based on my looks or anything physical. I've been through a lot in life, and what has gotten me through is strength of character and faith."
Candice Bergen, 72
With "Murphy Brown" returning to CBS this fall and her co-starring role in "Book Club," Candice Bergen is set for a career revival at the age of 72. Her secret to aging gracefully? Not giving a damn. "People complain about parts for women, people complain about getting old, but it's a privilege to get old," she says. "The reality is that I don't look like I used to look. And I just don't care."
Meryl Streep, 68
Meryl Streep has worked almost non-stop since her film debut in 1978's "Julia," most recently playing Washington Post owner Katherine Graham in Steven Spielberg's "The Post." ("Streep is superb," wrote one critic. "What else is new?") Both leading lady and character actress, she has been nominated for a record 21 Academy Awards, and the roles keep coming—despite her earlier expectations. "I remember as I was hovering around 40, I thought each movie would be my last, really," said Streep. "And all the evidence of other 40-year-old women at that time ... would lead you to believe it was over." But not for Streep. Not by a long shot.
Maggie Smith, 83
"When you're getting into the granny era, you're lucky to get anything," Dame Maggie Smith once said. Yet at 83 she remains one the busiest and most recognized actresses of any age. Since her 1958 screen debut, Smith has appeared in more than 50 films—including, in recent years, eight Harry Potter and two Marigold Hotel movies—and for many PBS viewers, she was the most compelling reason to watch "Downton Abbey." The two-time Oscar winner readily admits that not being a product of Hollywood helps: "I think if I went to Los Angeles, I'd frighten people. They don't see older people there."
Halle Berry, 51
At 17, Halle Berry won the Miss Teen All-American Pageant. At 35, she received an Best Actress Oscar for "Monster's Ball." And now, at 52, she remains one of Hollywood's great beauties. Maybe that's part of the reason she's able to be philosophical about aging.:"We have to stop wanting to look like that decade before," Berry says. "We have to stop coveting that. Let it go and embrace it now and really be okay. "
Helena Bonham Carter, 51
Due to star in the all-female "Ocean's 8," Helena Bonham Carter sees her resistance to cosmetic surgery as a professional asset. "I can still move all my face muscles!" she says. "There aren't many who can still do that." In her view, "Age is underrated. I think what's happening is that directors and the studios want actresses who have natural looks, who haven't had any work done. Look, you have two choices. You can have the word done and look weirder, or have nothing done and look older. I think the only way I'll continue to get work is if I don't get anything done."
Judi Dench, 83
Dame Judi Dench sometimes plays younger women, as when she portrayed 81-year-old Queen Victoria in 2017's "Victoria & Abdul," and when she's on screen you can't take your eyes off her. Her presence owes nothing to cosmetic surgery, though Dench admits she has sometimes considered it. "But I'm too old now," she says. "Though every time I go to America I wonder if there is some process where it could be all sucked out and I could still be in time for dinner."
Robin Wright, 52
She was resplendent as "Buttercup" in the 1987's "The Princess Bride," but Robin Wright made an even stronger impact as the ruthless Claire Underwood on the Netflix series "House of Cards." Seen here in 2017's "Wonder Woman"—three decades after her breakthrough role—Wright is determined to play by her own rules. "In Hollywood the pressure's there," she says. "You better lift that face and pump those lips and hike those boobs! And I'm like, 'I'm not going to do that. I'm going to get older. I'm going to have wrinkles.'"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 57
"I've been in showbiz for so long. From the first time people saw me on "Saturday Night Live" until now, it's no secret I've gotten older," says Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But in going from one of the "Seinfeld" gang to the title role in "Veep," she has hardly run out of steam. And Louis-Dreyfus is determined never to undergo plastic surgery—she doesn't even like hearing about "anti-aging" products. "I hate that word!" she says. "It should be something positive, like 'pro-aging,'"
Angela Bassett, 59
With co-starring roles in the superhero movie "Black Panther, TV's "9-1-1" and the upcoming entry in the "Mission Impossible" franchise, Angela Bassett is as commanding on screen as ever. And, with her recent move into directing, she has no intention of slowing down. "This business is very youth driven," she says. "But there is an absolute value in experience and wisdom."
Nicole Kidman, 50
As she turned 50 in 2017, Kidman also celebrated a banner year as an actress, receiving an Emmy for her role in HBO's "Big Little Lies" and an Oscar nomination for 2016's "The Lion." And, as she anticipates another birthday in June, Kidman feels optimistic about changing attitudes in Hollywood. "When you look at the Emmys ... so many of the nominees were women over 40," she said last year. "That's unbelievable. I think it's women supporting other women. Now, let's go and let's shift the needle on everything."
Michelle Pfeiffer, 60
After a career haitus in the 2000s to raise her children, Michelle Pfeiffer has recently experienced a resurgence, receiving acclaim for her roles in HBO's "Wizard of Lies" as well as "Mother!" and "Murder on the Orient Express." "Having to watch yourself age on a giant movie screen is simply not natural," Pfeiffer says. "It can wreak havoc on your psyche. But once you get over a certain hump, there actually is less pressure. You can begin to look great for your age. You don't have to look young anymore. I've moved over to that other side."
Mary Steenburgen, 65
Mary Steenburgen started her film career in 1978's "Goin' South," directed by Jack Nicholson, and four decades later she continues her lengthy run in "Book Club." "I used to worry about this time in my life," Steenburgen says. "But, actually, I'm working more than I ever worked. A big part of it is just not letting expectations be your master in any way and not making that rule your life."
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