Actors don’t retire – they keep on working until the roles dry up.
It’s rare for an actor to officially quit the scene – the great Gene Hackman and Sean Connery are two recent exceptions. And many actors continue to produce fine work in their golden years.
Here’s a salute to five such actors, professionals who not only keep getting gigs but retain the greatness of their youth.
To qualify, the actors must still be actively seeking parts (so Clint Eastwood who is coy about his acting future, doesn’t qualify) and still occasionally giving performances reminiscent of their younger selves.
Note: the list includes only one actress … to me, a reminder that male actors are allowed to age on screen without the stigma actresses often endure.
- Michael Caine – (77) Nobody does it better, or make it look so darn effortless. Caine is working furiously again, like he did back in the 1980s. And with wonderful performances in films like “Is Anybody There?,” “Flawless” and, presumably, “Harry Brown,” Caine’s weathered visage cannot hide his extreme talent.
- Jack Nicholson – (72) Jack remains Jack, a remarkable feat given his body of work. He hasn’t been on the big screen since the mediocre “Bucket List” from 2007, but his acting chops – and presence – endure. He’s set to re-team with James. L. Brooks later this year, a combination which should yield some vintage moments.
- Dustin Hoffman (72) – The erstwhile “Tootsie” is a tough choice here, in part because he hasn’t had many great roles in recent years. But he was terrific in “Last Chance Harvey,” an overlooked gem which showed him, once more, at the peak of his powers.
- Dame Judi Dench (75) – Very few actors could steal scenes from 007, but Dench makes it look like child’s play. Her complex turn in “Notes on a Scandal” showed she could still set off cinematic sparks with a well turned phrase or arched brow.
- Morgan Freeman (72) – This actor got a late start in Hollywood, and he’s still making up for lost time. His recent Oscar nomination for “Invictus” is the latest sign of an actor getting better with age.
(Photo: Sir Michael Caine remains at the top of his profession.)