Harrison Ford, Julie Andrews and the legion of older actors still working in Hollywood

Retirement is simply not on the cards for these stars who are still making movies in their eighties and nineties

Julie Andrews, Harrison Ford and Dick Van Dyke have proved to have enduring careers in famously fickle Hollywood. Photos: AFP, Reuters
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Despite ageism being famously rife in Hollywood, there are some actors that keep on booking roles even as the number of candles on their birthday cake gets bigger.

Screen legends Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren may be 80 and 77 respectively, but they’re currently showing young Hollywood a thing or two about endurance as the stars of popular Yellowstone spin-off 1923.

Having worked on five projects since 2017, and with another five in the pipeline, including this year’s hugely anticipated Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ford isn’t the only star enjoying a long career in Tinseltown. Here are 10 of the oldest working actors in Hollywood.

1. Al Pacino, 82

Al Pacino has portrayed some of cinema's most famous characters. Reuters

Having earned the reputation of one of the most influential actors in the world, the New York-born Oscar winner still shows no signs of slowing down.

After studying method acting under Lee Strasberg at the famous Actors Studio in New York City, Pacino has embodied some of cinema's most enduring roles, including Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Tony Montana in Scarface, Vincent Hanna in Heat and Sonny Wortzik in Dog Day Afternoon.

With no fewer than four projects coming up, including portraying Shakespeare’s King Lear, the actor is just a Grammy away from EGOT.

2. Lily Tomlin, 83

Actress Lily Tomlin started her career as a stand-up comic. Reuters

Six decades on from her big break on US variety TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, comic actress Lily Tomlin is still an in-demand actress.

The Detroit-born star parlayed her stand-up comic beginnings into a movie career with a focus on comedies and dramas.

She won a legion of fans as the wisecracking Violet Newstead in 1980’s 9 to 5 and has appeared in The X-Files and The West Wing.

Boasting a Grammy, six Emmys and two Tonys, she flies the flag for older actresses in Hollywood alongside Jane Fonda, 85, in the Netflix comedy series Frankie and Grace.

3. Ian McKellen, 83

British actor Ian Mckellan was knighted for his services to the performing arts. Getty Images

Still working in his ninth decade, McKellan has tried his hand at everything from Shakespeare to fantasy and from drama to sci-fi during his career.

Most recently treading the boards in pantomime as Mother Goose at the Theatre Royal Brighton, the British actor lamented to the Radio Times, “Age should come with a health warning.”

Famous for playing Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings films and its spin-offs, as well as Magneto in 2000’s X-Men and its sequels, the star, who has won six Laurence Olivier Awards, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts.

4. Anthony Hopkins, 85

In 2021, Anthony Hopkins became the oldest person to win the Best Actor Oscar. AFP

“I’m just grateful I’m alive and they still give me jobs to do. Keeps me out of trouble, eh?” the Welsh actor told The Guardian last year while promoting his most recent film, Armageddon Time.

Winning his second Oscar in 2021 at the age of 83 for his role in The Father — making him the oldest Best Actor Oscar winner to date — Hopkins has created some memorable characters during his career, including the still-terrifying Dr Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.

Refusing to step into retirement, he has three projects coming up, including a turn as the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud.

5. Julie Andrews, 87

Julie Andrews most recently voiced Lady Whistledown in Bridgerton. AFP

Who couldn’t fail to recognise the famously dulcet tones narrating the goings on in the Netflix show Bridgerton, and Julie Andrews’s voiceover work as Lady Whistledown has won the British actress a whole new generation of fans.

Embodying some of the most famous and beloved roles in Hollywood as Mary Poppins in the 1964 film, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Queen Clarisse Renaldi in The Princess Diaries, the British actress boasts one Oscar, six Golden Globes and three Grammys.

6. Donald Sutherland, 87

US actor Donald Sutherland's career has spanned six decades. AFP

While younger generations recognise him as the villainous President Snow in The Hunger Games trilogy, older moviegoers would need more than two hands to count the number of famous roles the Canadian star has made his mark on.

Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet, Matthew Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Baxter in Don’t Look Now are only a few highlights in a resume that spans six decades and counting.

7. Judi Dench, 88

British actress Judi Dench started her career as a Shakespearean actress in London. AFP

Making her professional debut at London’s Old Vic in 1957, the English actress carved out a career as a respected Shakespearean actress as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth.

Most recently starring in 2021’s Oscar-winning Belfast, Dench, who was made a Dame in 1998, was credited with breathing new life into the character M during Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s tenures as James Bond.

She famously won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love despite only being onscreen for eight minutes.

8. Michael Caine, 89

In recent years, Michael Caine has worked with Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. AFP

Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London on March 14, 1933, the British actor has made a career out of playing highly quotable characters.

The two-time Oscar winner has two new films in production, including Now You See Me 3, and has shown off his comedy chops as Victor Melling in Miss Congeniality, his villainous side as Lawrence Jamieson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and unleashed his inner loveable rogue as Charlie Croker in 1969's The Italian Job.

“He makes it look effortless,” said his co-star in The Dark Knight, Christian Bale.

9. Rita Moreno, 91

West Side Story star Rita Moreno is a member of the exclusive EGOT club. AFP

Still busy in her nineties, EGOT winner Rita Moreno hasn’t stopped working since she made her debut in the 1950 film So Young, So Bad.

Starring as the doomed Tuptim in The King and I, it was her turn as Anita in the 1961 classic West Side Story which truly cemented her position in Hollywood, a role for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Recently enjoying something of a career resurgence, the Puerto Rican actress will next appear in the sports comedy 80 for Brady alongside fellow veterans Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Sally Field.

10. Dick Van Dyke, 97

Three years shy of his 100th birthday, Dick Van Dyke is still making movies. Reuters

He’s known for some of the most famous roles in cinema, including Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins and Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and at 97, the Missouri native is still kept busy.

Having recently been introduced to a younger generation of film fans in the Night at the Museum films, his appearance as Mr Dawes Jr in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns proved a “terribly moving” moment for his co-star Emily Blunt who said: “His eyes and the smile are seared into your memory.”

Updated: January 13, 2023, 7:02 AM