People like to accuse Hollywood of ageism, and maybe that’s true to a certain extent with regard to leading man/leading lady roles. But then studios take demographic tastes into account, and do college kids want to watch action movies starring a bunch of arthritic old geasers (here’s looking at you Untouchables).
In find there’s a lot of employment opportunity for senior citizens in the film industry. Nearly every movie calls for the grandpa, the wise mentor, the sage.
There’s actually a whole roster of actors whose bread and butter is to routinely fill these roles. The funny thing is these stars seem to have practically been born into old age. It’s like they decided early on they wanted to secure a steady stream of acting work by making themselves the go-to elderly man.
Here are my favorite actors who have always been old:
#1. Sean Connery
Sean Connery is a strange beast. I almost feel like there are two Sean Conneries-two very different men competing for the same name (and they both happen to have an iconic Scottish accent).
To visualize what I mean, here’s Mr. Connery in his last outing as James Bond in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever (until his return as Old Bond in Never Say Never Again).
Granted, he’s definitely gotten older since he first assumed the role in 1962, but he at least looks middle-aged at most.
Now here’s that same (?) Sean Connery just three years later in 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express.
As you can see, by then he’d already become the “Old Man Connery” we all know and love in films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
What’s even more intriguing is that after getting into his old stage, Connery has aged very well. He’s gotten a little balder, a little more wrinkled, but he’s still looking pretty good.
Maybe he’s as immortal as his Highlander character Juan Sanchez Villalobos Ramirez.
#2. Ian McKellan
Sir Ian McKellan is one of the most able and respected actors out there. It’s funny that despite decades’ worth of laudable dramatic, Shakespearean performances (for which he was knighted in 1991), he’s pretty much known popularly today thanks to his roles in X-Men and Lord of the Rings.
McKellan has always had the air of an old soul. And a matching appearance. Just look at this pic of him when he was 30.
He was pretty much already Gandalf, just clean-shaven.
#3. Anthony Hopkins
Whenever a role calls for someone who’s smooth, sophisticated, British, and a little of his rocker, Sir Anthony is the guy to call. The Hannibal actor has an unparalleled persona. And part of it is his aged face.
Here’s Anthony Hopkins in 1971’s When Eight Bells Toll (he was about 33).
That looks like old Anthony Hopkins trying to look young. You could take him today, paint his hair dark and you’d have that picture.
#4. Morgan Freeman
No one beats that voice. Seriously, they should just get Moran Freeman to narrate everything. You could make a documentary about grass growing interesting by having Moran Freeman narrate it. In face, Morgan Freeman’s voice is the last thing I want to hear before I die. Just play me his closing monologue from The Shawshank Redemption as I go toward the light.
Freeman is another beloved actor who’s always looked older. Look at the guy when he was a kid.
Seriously, he must have been seducing middle-aged cougars in middle school. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he already had that iconic voice before hitting puberty.
These actors are perpetually gray and advanced in years–and that’s why we love them! Whenever they appear onscreen, they leave us a little better off with their wisdom.