Movies & TV Pop Culture

12 Celebrities Who Didn't Get Famous Young

Age before beauty.

I like my celebrities like I like my fine red wine: aged. Sure, some early bloomers turn out to be okay (Jodie Foster, I’m looking at you) but others only serve to make you feel like sh*t when you try to compare your life’s timeline to theirs. If you’re out there suffering from obsessive comparison disorder, than try these gems on for size. 

1. .  Morgan Freeman

Freeman was on Broadway at 30 in an all African-American production of Hello, Dolly!. He worked regularly on a public television kids’ show, went back to Broadway, and got his first role in a feature film Driving Miss Daisy at the age of 50, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Then, at 57 he broke parole and met his friend in a field in Mexico and… oh… wait…

2. .  Kristen Wiig

JK Wiig joined the cast of SNL at 32, which she has translated into a whirlwind of success on all screens big and small. She was an odd-jobber until she started studying at The Groundlings in Los Angeles. There, she climbed the ranks to their mainstage company, which landed her the audition for SNL, et voila. To anyone who’s ever been on that 18 month waiting list to get into The Groundlings Writers’ Lab, trust. It may very well be worth the wait. 

3. .  Sylvester Stallone

Keepin it on the sly! As the old story goes, Stallone was so broke at age 30 that he sold his dog at for 25 bucks because he couldn’t afford to feed it. He then binge-wrote the screenplay for Rocky virtually overnight (twenty hours, as the story goes), sold it, and paid 15k to get his dog back. And to think, he did all of this without pronouncing a single English consonant. P.S., his first role was in a soft core film. 

4. .  Jon Hamm

This beefcake of a man appears on pretty much every list of “stars who got their break later in life” because his story is one of the best. He was dropped by his agent when he was in his 20s, worked here and there in television and in restaurants until he was about 30, landed Don Draper at 36, and now has a tumblr page dedicated to his penis.

5. .  Harrison Ford

From pounding nails to pounding hearts, Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter/actor for Frances Ford Coppola and George Lucas, playing small roles in films while also building sets. That was, until Lucas finally cast him as iconic Han Solo. His first credited role was at 25, then American Graffiti at 31 and Star Wars at 35. 

6. .  Jane Lynch

Lynch had her first big feature film role at 28 in the Fred Savage comedy Vice Versa, but it didn't translate into mainstream success until she happened to work with director Christopher Guest on a cereal commercial. Months later, the pair bumped into each other by happenstance at a Beverly Hills restaurant, and one “swing by my office, I have a project I’m working on that I think you might be right for” later, Lynch was cast as Christy Cummngs in Best In Show. She was 40 at the time. 

7. .  Ricky Gervais

Gervais worked hither and thither, including a brief stint in a band called Seona Dancingwhich was a big deal in The Philippines in 1985. He went from relative obscurity to becoming one of the major players on the global comedy scene with The Office, which he co-created and starred in. He was forty years old at the time. 

8. .  Steve Carell

Carell started making regular television appearances in his early 30s, with notable stints on The Dana Carvey Show. He joined the cast of The Daily Show in 1999 at 37. Then,The Office came stateside, then he landed the titular role in 40 Year Old Virgin at 45. Now, not only is he critically acclaimed and wildly commercially successful, he is my one of my top two favorite comedic male actors in Hollywood. I’m pulling for you in The Big Short, buddy. It takes a lot to be as funny as you are and still have so much heart. 

9. .  Kathy Bates

Bates landed minor roles in B-films and TV until her early 40s when her Academy Award winning performance in Misery parlayed into her leading role in Fried Green Tomatoes. Now, Kathy Bates is a much beloved actress with a much beloved career. 

10..  Bryan Cranston

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Malcom in the Middle came his way at 44, and Breaking Bad didn’t happen until he was in his early 50s. Now he’s a mic-dropping bad boy with a killer career and no regrets. Not bad for a Bryan who spells his name with a y.

11. .  Samuel L. Jackson

Jackson was a social worker for years before he got bit by the acting bug. He had small roles in a couple of big films (Goodfellas, True Romance) until landing Pulp Fiction at age 45 for which he received an Academy Award nomination when that type of thing was still happening for actors of color. 

12. .  Lucile Ball

Our great nation didn’t start loving Lucy until she hit the big 4-0. The rest, my friends, is her-story. Before that, she was working in stage productions and B-movies. Chew on that next time you’re the oldest girl in the chorus line. Alternate plan: push a bitch down the stairs and hope for the best. For the record, chemical peels are the new soft focus black and white film for the 40-year-old lady with a face for the ages and a smile that never gets old. 

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