Actors Who Made It Later In Life

7 mins read

Here is just a fun article to make some of us feel better about where we currently are in our careers! We as actors are always hard on ourselves. Our passion and desire to “make it” can drive us crazy and often does. We look at others peoples success and can’t help but think why not me? We must always understand that our pursuit is a marathon not a sprint and we must try to enjoy the journey. Not everyone will have the same path, in fact we all will most certainly have many different paths. There is nothing wrong with finding success later in life. There are plenty of actors who made it later on in years, and many have proven to have as much celebrated success as actors that got an earlier start. We thought this article could help put in perspective different paths that many actors took who made it later in their journey.

These actors are proof that so often, the struggle is worth it. Take a look through this list and maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with one of the actors on it!

Danny Burstein

Danny burstein

As a performer on and off Broadway since the 1990’s, Danny Burstein didn’t make it big until 2006, when he had aged into his early 40’s. His big break came in the form of “The Drowsy Chaperone” earning him his first Tony Award nomination. Burstein is a seven-time Tony Award nominee. He continues to wow audiences both on and off stage.

Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch

Many of us are well aware of Jane Lynch nowadays, but she didn’t get her big break until she was 43, starring in Eugene Levy’s mockumentary “Best in Show”. Since then, she’s taken on major roles in both television, Broadway, and motion pictures.

Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm

When it comes to actors with late success, Jon Hamm comes to mind for many people. He spent his 20’s and 30’s in LA, struggling to make it big. Finally, he landed a role on the NBC drama Providence, and gained critical recognition with his role on Mad Men. He currently has one Golden Globe and 8 Emmy nominations.

Margo Martindale

Margo Martindale

Margo Martindale has proven herself over the years with small roles in films since the 90’s, but she didn’t get her big Broadway debut until 2004 in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. With plenty of award nominations to go along with the role, she has gone on to star in television dramas as well.

Connie Britton

Connie Briton

Connie Britton is well known for her role in “Friday Night Lights”, Connie Britton didn’t secure success until she was well into her career, starring in minor roles on television series such as “24” and “Spin City”.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

He may not have made it as late in life as a few of the others, but Harrison Ford did not secure a lead role until he was 33. Yes, that role was “Star Wars”, and it only got better from there, but he did have to put in the work to get there, proving that you shouldn’t give up!

Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad

While Phylicia Rashad found great success performing off-Broadway, she didn’t make it big until she landed the role of Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” when she was 35. After 2 Emmy Award nominations for her work on the show, she moved on to wonderful things, making a name for herself in the industry.

Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman

Landing his big break at the age of 37, Gene Hackman played the role of Buck Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde”. He found wonderful subsequent success in the film industry after that, including an Academy Award nomination for “Bonnie and Clyde”.

Kristin Wiig

Most people know Kristin Wiig from Saturday Night Live, but before she made it big she was taking odd jobs to support herself in NYC. Kristin made her film debut (Knocked Up) in 2007 when she was 34 years old. She has since done films like “Bridesmaids”, earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Tim Allen

Tim allen

Tim Allen found fame with his hit TV show “Home Improvement”, but that didn’t come until after he spent years working as a struggling comedian performing on the late-night circuit. Movies like “The Santa Clause” and “Toy Story” would soon follow.

Samuel L. Jackson

It may seem that Samuel Jackson is in almost every movie you watch, but the truth is, he didn’t make it big until he turned 45, starring with John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction”. It wasn’t until then that he began to accumulate quite the motion picture resume.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball didn’t find success, though she tried for many years, until the creation of “I Love Lucy”. It might not appear so, but Lucille was 40 when the iconic sitcom first aired!

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates

Bates is an amazing actress, that’s plain to see, but she didn’t come across her big break until she turned 42, starring as the antagonist in the thriller “Misery”. She was terrifying, and moved on to amazing things.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy

Many of us remember her as Sooki on “Gilmore Girls”, but it really wasn’t until she took the comedic role in Kristin Wiig’s “Bridesmaids” that McCarthy made it big. Living proof that your first, long-running role doesn’t always define your career!


If you feel like you have been struggling for a while, you’re clearly in good company. Keep your head up. This industry is a grind and sometimes we need to be reminded of that. Work hard and keep pushing forward. You never know who is watching.

Mershad Torabi is an Iranian/Canadian, New York based actor. Mershad first discovered his love for acting in high school after being sent out on auditions by his drama teacher Paul Batten. In 2005 Mershad packed his bags and left Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue his dreams in Los Angeles.

Since moving to Los Angeles Mershad has trained at some of the top schools under Iris Klein and Larry Moss.

Mershad's latest film, The Summerland Project is a Sci Fi thriller whose cast includes Ed Begley Jr., Eddie Jemison, Kate Vernon, Chris Ellis and Debra Wilson.

Mershad is a Sag/Aftra member and also speaks Farsi and Arabic.

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