Resisting Ageism in Hollywood: Stars Coming Into Their Own Later in Their Careers

When you think of actors coming into their own, who comes to mind? Florence Pugh? Timothée Chalamet? Saoirse Ronan? Zendaya? Many people will envision the faces of young Hollywood actors and actresses, at the start of their careers, who seem to be everywhere. They seem to be in every film and awards show, on the cover of magazines and talked about across the internet. Hollywood loves them and so does the media, praising them for their early success and writing article upon article about the accolades they’re receiving. But what about the actors who are experiencing huge recognition at a later age and stage in their career?

Here are four figures currently dominating conversations, being recognised for their talents and experiencing a surge of popularity, especially with a younger generation, who just so happen to be over the age of fifty! It’s no secret Hollywood has an ageism problem, but these actors (and director – hi Bong Joon Ho!) are truly at the top of their game right now.

Laura Dern

Is there anyone doing it quite like Laura Dern? No? I thought not. From her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in Marriage Story to her claim that she “saw” Baby Yoda at a basketball game (if that sentence doesn’t make sense, you clearly haven’t been spending enough time online), she’s all the internet can talk about. It’s official: Dern-mania is in full swing. At this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards, directors Greta Gerwig (Little Women) and Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) did a pair of tributes emphasising just how much they love Laura Dern, whilst wearing matching jumpers with her face on them (we can also assume they spend their off time fighting over who’s directing her next). But it doesn’t stop at matching Laura-Dern-emblazoned jumpers, oh no! At February’s Independent Spirit Awards, where Dern picked up yet another prize, the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir took to the stage to sing about the gayest moments in film and it descended into a song about – you’ve guessed it – Laura Dern! She’s even got a burgeoning TikTok career in the works – in the now viral video, Dern shoves her daughter over and proceeds to dance to ‘Say So’ by Doja Cat. Is there anything this woman can’t do?

Jeff Goldblum

I’m not exaggerating when I say the internet is obsessed with Jeff Goldblum. He’s everywhere – posing with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, carrying a puppy on the red carpet, playing Glastonbury Festival with his jazz band as Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra … the list goes on. He’s also become something of a style icon as of late, with journalists and fans alike marvelling at his penchant for clashing prints and colourful suits.  On top of all this, Jurassic Park 3 has just started shooting, bringing back Goldblum and its other original stars, Laura Dern (nice to see you again, Laura!) and Sam Neill. It seems like the revival of Goldblum is set to continue, along with his dazzling Instagram photos of his outfits.

Bong Joon Ho

Bong Joon Ho is definitely making waves in Hollywood. Parasite, directed and written by Bong Joon Ho, made history at the Oscars and took home a staggering four awards, including best picture and best director. It’s the first foreign language film to EVER be awarded best picture, marking a truly historic win. Despite having previously directed the excellent Snowpiercer and Netflix’s Okja, Parasite has finally afforded Bong the international recognition he’s deserved for so long. After Parasite’s Golden Globes win, in his now infamous speech, Bong said, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. Hopefully the success of Parasite is enough to show Hollywood (and audiences) that subtitles aren’t obstacles, they’re keys to doors we wouldn’t otherwise be able to open. And after all this success, what did Bong do? He did what I like to think we all would upon receiving piles of Oscars – he made them kiss.

Gillian Anderson

Whilst many will forever see Gillian Anderson as FBI Special Agent Dana Scully from The X-Files, a younger generation best know her as Dr. Jean Milburn, the shameless but well-meaning sex therapist from Netflix’s hit show Sex Education. Aside from being great entertainment, Sex Education also does one very important thing: it reminds us how GREAT Gillian Anderson is! Jean embarrassing Otis? Amazing. Jean getting high and giving Adam sex advice? Iconic. Jean’s outfits? Incredible – the woman’s a fashion icon! From one wildly popular Netflix show to another, Anderson was recently cast as Margaret Thatcher in season four of The Crown in what will undoubtedly be another great showcase for her talent. From Moordale High School to meeting with Her Majesty … long may her reign continue!

– Miranda Parkinson





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