An acting career typically begins at a young age, and loads of celebrities scour through different roles just so they can one day make it big in the industry. Child actors like Jacob Tremblay and Quvenzhané Wallis have proven that show business is constantly looking for that next megastar to bank on. But what is often overlooked is the fact that there are still a lot of celebrities that actually achieve success when they are well over thirty.
The actors you’ll find on this list prove that success will eventually be granted to those who never lose sight of their dreams and aspirations. From starting out with B-Rated movies to eventually finding mainstream success, here are the top Hollywood celebrities who achieved fame later in life.
1. Jon Hamm
Age during breakout role: 36
You might recognize Jon Hamm as Don Draper from the hit television series Mad Men. This iconic role cemented Hamm as a household name and granted him even more opportunities in Hollywood. Way before this casting ever happened, all Hamm had in his resume were small roles in Kissing Jessica Stein and Gilmore Girls.
2. Kathy Bates
Age during breakout role: 43
Kathy Bates may have won an Emmy award for her role in American Horror Story: Coven, but this was not her first brush with the horror genre. Bates started her stellar acting career as Annie Wilkes, a retired nurse who holds a man captive in the film adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel Misery. Bates rightfully gained an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance.
3. Lupita Nyong’o
Age during breakout role: 30
Before Lupita Nyong’o became a red carpet darling and Oscar winner, she was pursuing a master’s degree in acting at Yale School of Drama. Her acting experience included being a part of a short film project called East River, and the 2009 Kenyan television show Shuga. It was not until she was cast in 30 Years a Slave when she finally got the recognition she truly deserved.
4. Samuel L. Jackson
Age during breakout role: 46
Samuel L. Jackson is just one of those rare celebrities who appeal to countless generations, and maybe that is the reason behind his remarkable career as an actor. But would you believe that Jackson was not fully recognized for his acting skills until 1994’s Pulp Fiction? Before being cast as the hitman Jules Winnfield in the black comedy, Jackson had already more than 30 films listed on his acting resume. Since then, he has always been recognized as one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood with a net worth of more than $150 million.
5. Jane Lynch
Age during breakout role: 43
There truly isn’t a Hollywood story as inspiring as Jane Lynch, who went through so much just so she can get to where she is today.
Lynch started her career doing a series of commercials as well as a couple of extra roles in movies. The younger generation may know her now as the tough talking gym teacher Sue Sylvester from Glee, but Lynch’s breakout role was actually in the 2000 mockumentary Best in Show.
6. Morgan Freeman
Age during breakout role: 52
Morgan Freeman is one of the finest actors of his generation, but it may be hard to believe that he was not famous for the majority of his career. Freeman started acting with small roles in Another World and a television series named The Electric Company. It wasn’t until Driving Miss Daisy where Freeman was finally recognized, and it was with that role that he got his first Oscar nomination.
7. Harrison Ford
Age during breakout role: 33
Actor, producer, and Hollywood icon Harrison Ford went through a lot before he bagged the roles of Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Clearly, all his hard work and perseverance paid off, as he is now one of the highest paid celebrities of all time.
8. Tina Fey
Age during breakout role:34
Tina Fey proves that being a celebrity means more than just looking good in front of the camera. Before she took on her breakout movie role in Mean Girls, she was a writer and improv actor for Saturday Night Live. Fey’s continued success over the years was not limited to just being in front of the camera, though, as she later rose to become the first female head writer for SNL.