Seasoned to Perfection: Veteran Stars Thrill with New Projects

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The old Hollywood cliché is that audiences love their stars young. But during a time in which 50 is the new 30, 70 has become the new 50 as evidenced by the growing number of veteran (make that extremely veteran) actors and actresses who are not only working, but thriving in exciting new projects. After all, what would Downton Abbey be without Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess? What would the X-Men be without the leadership of Sir Patrick Stewart’s Professor X leading the team against Sir Ian McKellan’s Magneto?

So if, like us, you believe that the legends of our greatest performers loom larger with age, you’ll be thrilled to see all the great works coming from these beloved stars:

Sir Ian McKellan

If you were coming off a year that saw you put a bow on your renowned roles of Gandalf the Wizard in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films and Magneto in the X-Men franchise (not to mention a turn on Broadway in No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot), you’d probably take a break, right? Wrong. At age 76, Sir Ian is not only starring as a 93-year-old Sherlock in the recently released Mr. Holmes, but he’s also in his second season starring opposite Derek Jacobi in the hilarious British TV comedy Vicious.


Sir Patrick Stewart

After helming the U.S.S. Enterprise for so many years on Star Trek: the Next Generation, Captain Picard didn’t simply take a desk job and fade away. The 75-year-old Sir Patrick shared the stage with BFF Sir Ian in No Man’s Land and Godot, the screen in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and is now set to star in Blunt Talk, the story of a bombastic British newscaster who moves to America to become a sanctimonious talk show host. Blunt Talk will premiere next month on the Starz network.


Meryl Streep

Streep, at 66, is still young for our veteran’s list—and yet the performer considered by many to be our greatest living actress has been nominated for a remarkable 19 Academy Awards and has won three. She will light up the screen next month as the title character in Ricki and the Flash, the story of a hard-rocking singer/guitarist trying to reconcile with her family.


Dame Helen Mirren

Mirren, who turns 70 this month, won the Oscar in 2006 for her turn in The Queen. Most recently, this monarch of the stage and screen starred in this year’s indie film Woman in Gold as an octogenarian Jewish refugee who takes on the Austrian government in an effort to recover artwork that had been plundered from her family by the Nazis. She has two movies in the works including Trumbo where she plays legendary gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.


Michael Douglas

Two-time Academy Award winner Douglas (who turns 71 in September) isn’t resting on his laurels, either. After beating a bout of oral cancer, the one-time star of Wall Street, Basic Instinct and The American President is currently appearing in the super-hero heist flick Ant-Man, and will star in the upcoming spy thriller Unlocked.


Sir Ben Kingsley

Does it seem like decades ago that Sir Ben, now 71, won an Academy Award for his performance in Gandhi? That’s because it was—three of them, to be exact. He’s keeping busy, though—Kingsley’s attached to no less than nine projects in 2015, including the mini-series Tut, now playing on the Spike television network.


Dame Judi Dench

This living legend of the stage and screen shows no sign of slowing down. At age 80, she appeared in this year’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and is currently working on Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.


Dame Maggie Smith

She won the first of her two Oscars in 1969 for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but she is perhaps best known today for her delectably snooty turn in the internationally acclaimed television series Downton Abbey. Dame Maggie, now 80, also appeared with Dame Judi in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.


Donald Sutherland

He’s not just Keifer’s father—back in the day Donald Sutherland was one of the film industry’s most active and distinctive performers. And his day isn’t over yet. The 80-year-old Sutherland is making himself known to younger movie-goers through his role as the notorious President Snow in The Hunger Games saga. The series’ last chapter, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is set for release in November.


Recommended Reading:

The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older by Robert L. Weber, Ph.D., and Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. (Park Street Press, 2015)

Book CoverAs more and more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, authors Weber and Orsborn offer a view of aging as a spiritual journey during which we shouldn’t avoid the challenges of aging, but work through them. By researching the latest in both psychological and spiritual research, they show readers how to transition from fear of aging into a rich, full appreciation of this vital phase of our lives.

Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.

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