The Flix List: Top Ten Favorite Seasoned Actors

In an industry seemingly obsessed with youth, the world of cinema is actually quite forgiving to those suffering from the inevitable phenomenon called aging. I mean, compared to another lucrative career such as sports, where athletes are forced to retire well before they reach ‘middle aged’ period, there are plenty of opportunities for actors not only to survive in the business but continue to thrive despite their age. In fact, a select few are akin to fine wine… they just get even better with age. Not just in their looks mind you (though indeed some still look smashing in their 60s), but professionally, they’re still relevant and consistently churn out compelling performances. These thespians have the dignity to always do their best, never appear as if they’re ‘phoning it in’ just because they can.

I still think there ought to be far more interesting roles for older actors though, and not just those relegated to supporting categories. There’s a market for it obviously, look at the success for RED and Gran Torino, whose leading cast are all way past AARP eligible age. I for one would love to see more love stories in the vein of Last Chance Harvey than something like oh, I dunno, Something Borrowed.

It’s really tough to whittle it down to just ten as I generally like older actors than the those below 25, my criteria for picking these ten are that they are all over 60 years of age, they’ve done quite a few roles that have become my all-time favorites and they’re still working in the business today (hence my exclusion of Sean Connery, whom I like but unfortunately he’s already retired from acting).

So anyway, here they are in alphabetical order:

1. Michael Caine, 78

It’s Sir Michael to us, folks. The tall, bespectacled English gent is more than just a screen legend, he’s practically an pop culture icon. His distinctive manner of speaking is a popular subject used by impressionists and mimics, but he’s such a good sport about the whole thing which makes me like him more. He’s got over one hundred movies and TV works under his belt, with no signs of slowing down (he’s got four upcoming movies in the next couple of years, five if you’re counting voice work for Cars 2).

Top 3 Fave Michael Caine roles: Alfred in Chris Nolan’s Batman flicks, Cutter in The Prestige, Jasper in Children of Men

2. Timothy Dalton, 65

It would be unthinkable for me to have this kind of list and not include Dalton. Whoever wrote his IMDb page is spot on… “At a consistently lean 6′ 2″, green-eyed Timothy Dalton may very well be one of the last of the dying breed of swashbuckling, classically trained Shakespearean actors…” He’s got the looks, talent, and not to mention that iconic silky, throaty voice.

Sure he may not be the most prolific in his later years, but the dashing Welshman has done so many iconic roles in his career: Bond, Rochester, Julius Caesar, even Rhett Butler in the ill-advised Gone with the Wind follow-up Scarlett. His Bond and Jane Eyre’s Rochester renditions are my absolute favorite from each of the franchise, but his bad boy roles are also memorable: Flash Gordon‘s Prince Barin, Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer and Simon Skinner in Hot Fuzz. With his recent stint in NBC’s Chuck and The Tourist, it proves that he’s still got it. I only hope he’d get a leading role in the future worthy of his charisma and talent!

Top 3 Fave Timothy Dalton roles: Rochester in 1983 BBC Jane Eyre miniseries, Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer, Eddie Myers in Framed.

3. Judi Dench, 77

The grand Dame has sheer screen presence despite her 5’1″ frame that she often plays strong female characters. I first saw her as M in Goldeneye, the first female portraying the 007 character. I love her tough-as-nails performance… who told Bond straight on that he’s a ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur.’ Oh and this quote from Tomorrow Never Dies has got to be my favorite from M in all of the Bond movies:
Admiral Roebuck: With all due respect M, sometimes I don’t think you have the balls for this job.”
M: “Perhaps. But the advantage is that I don’t have to think with them all the time.”

She is of course equally compelling in period dramas, i.e. as Queen Victoria in her Oscar-nominated turn in Mrs. Brown, and who else could nab an Oscar for being on screen for merely 8 minutes!

Top 3 Fave Judi Dench roles: Queen Victoria in Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, M in Bond movies, Eleanor in A Room with a View.

4. Clint Eastwood, 80

There’s no stopping Mr. Eastwood, who despite hitting the big 8-0, there’s no sign of slowing down! He’s got one of the most varied and rich career of any actor that seem to transcend generations. Having been famous for his bad ass roles like Dirty Harry, he’s become more successful as a director, winning 2 Oscars for directing Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, two completely different genres no less. I actually haven’t seen either one of them as they’re not my cup of tea, but I’ve seen enough of his other great work to consider him on this list. Oh, as if he weren’t a triple threat already, the pianist and composer is also a darn good singer, as displayed in Paint Your Wagon and in the credits of Gran Torino.

Top 3 Fave Clint Eastwood’s work: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Director) , Frank Horrigan in In The Line of Fire, Robert Kincaid in The Bridges of Madison County

5. Harrison Ford, 69

Ok so Cowboys & Aliens failed to ignite at the box office this past weekend, but I doubt it’ll make a dent in his amazing Hollywood career. Ford is a cinematic icon, having played so many classic roles, including my all time favorite, Indiana Jones (have you voted in his b’day poll yet?) Btw, I had just seen The Conversation where he had a minor role, that movie was released 37 years ago and it struck me how much Ford ages well. I like Ford in both his action as well as dramatic roles, recently I rewatched Regarding Henry as it was on TV and I was so moved by it — it’s perhaps his most underrated roles as he didn’t garner any awards for that nuanced performance.
,,,The Chicago-native reportedly just signed on to do another cowboy role as an aging gunfighter Wyatt Earp in Black Hats, set in 1920s New York (per THR)

Top 3 Fave Harrison Ford roles: Indiana Jones, Henry Turner in Regarding Henry, Linus Larabee in Sabrina (1995)

6. Morgan Freeman, 74

The first time I saw Mr. Freeman was in Street Smart with Christopher Reeve, this was at the time I was crushing on Superman so I watched everything he’s in. I didn’t like the movie but Freeman gave an Oscar-worthy performance in his first nomination (he went on to garner four more nods in his career). I absolutely adore his role as Lucius in Nolan’s Batman films, a man of gravitas who also provides comic relief effortlessly. His scenes with Bruce Wayne in both Nolan’s Batman movies are always the major highlights as they have such a great rapport. Freeman is perhaps best known for his dramatic performance in Shawshank Redemption and Million Dollar Baby, but the Memphis-born actor also shows he’s got comic skills in Maiden Heist and RED.

Top 3 Fave Morgan Freeman roles: Lucius Fox in Chris Nolan’s Batman flicks, Red in Shawshank Redemption, Nelson Mandela in Invictus.

7. Ed Harris, 61

I don’t know what it is about Ed Harris but I always enjoy seeing him on screen, even when he’s playing an unsympathetic character. Perhaps it’s his soulful eyes or his seemingly unruffled demeanor. Ted just posted the box office misfire article where he mentioned about The Abyss. I really like that film largely because of Harris’ performance, and I could say the same thing about a lot of the movies he’s in. I like the fact that he’s also a family man, having been married to the same woman since 1983.

Top 3 Fave Ed Harris roles: Bud Brigman in The Abyss, Christof in The Truman Show, Mr. Smith in The Way Back

8. Anthony Hopkins, 74

Hopkins first scared the pants out of me when I saw Silence of the Lambs in the theater (what was I thinking?) But the beauty of the Welsh actor is that in the movies that follow, he easily disappeared into his roles that I wasn’t ‘haunted’ by Hannibal Lecter every time he appeared on screen. Apparently Sir Laurence Olivier himself discovered him, who invited him to join The National Theatre in 1965 (per IMDb). I suppose it takes one to know one, as both are über talented Oscar winners who are easily one of the greatest actors in of their respective generation.

Top 3 Fave Anthony Hopkins roles: James Stevens in The Remains of the Day, Ludlow in Legends of the Fall, Don Diego de la Vega in The Mask of Zorro.

9. Helen Mirren, 66

I’ve mentioned her a lot on this blog so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I adore this classy lady. Mirren is one of those rare beauty who doesn’t let age get in the way of her inherent sensuality. My friend Vince recommended Excalibur to me where Mirren played a seductive temptress and seeing her most recently in State of Play, it’s clear she hasn’t lost that twinkle in her eye. She can also play buttoned-up obviously, having won all kinds of awards for playing the title role in The Queen. I haven’t seen Calendar Girls yet but I’ll be sure to get to that soon.

Top 3 Fave Helen Mirren roles: Queen Elizabeth in The Queen, Sofya Tolstoy in The Last Station, Victoria in RED.

10. Alan Rickman, 65

Last but definitely not least. Again, no surprise as I’ve mentioned him a lot… just yesterday I was raving about his performance as Snape in the Harry Potter movies. That accent with that inimitable delivery… like Dalton, one of the best thing about this Londoner is his silky voice. He’s got quite a female following and I’m not at all surprised. His role as Col. Brandon alone earns him a place on this list, but he’s also fantastic in almost everything he’s in. I also think he should do more comedy as he was such a hoot in Galaxy Quest. It’s funny that I actually first saw Rickman in Truly Madly Deeply when my ESL teacher invited her foreign students to her home, and at the time I wasn’t at all interested. Only later on that I realized it was Rickman as the romantic ghost Jamie.

Top 3 Fave Alan Rickman roles: Col. Brandon in Sense & Sensibility, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, Severus Snape in Harry Potter franchise.


  • Jim Broadbent, 62
  • Brian Cox, 65
  • Ian McKellen, 72
  • Vanessa Redgrave, 74
  • Tom Wilkinson, 63

I feel like I could’ve made this into a top 20, but now it’s your turn. Who are your favorite seasoned thespians?

58 thoughts on “The Flix List: Top Ten Favorite Seasoned Actors

        1. Oh man, I’m kicking myself for forgetting the Von Trapp couple! I mean I grew up with The Sound of Music and both of them are still great performers even today. Thanks for the reminder, Sam.

  1. Great list, of course. I’d probably make room for Meryl Streep and Maggie Smith for my own list. They’re both still quite on the top of their game with Streep being Streep and Smith just finishing up with Harry Potter and recently being Emmy-nominated for Downton Abbey.

    1. Oh those two are great indeed Ryan, I kept thinking Meryl is younger than 60 but wow she’s 62, so definitely should be on this list. I really like Maggie too, but not as familiar w/ her work other than in HP and in a dark comedy I saw a while a go with Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeping Mum I think is the name.

      1. Felt like I grew up with Maggie Smith since she appeared in some of my favorite films when I was younger (Secret Garden, both Sister Act films, and Gosford Park). She’s so fierce.

        1. Oh yeah she is in Gosford Park, too. That is an amazing ensemble cast indeed, that’s why it’s on my top five ensemble cast movies 😀

  2. I like pretty much all the choices here, although i will admit i’m not very familiar with Ed Harris. Also, Rickman i’ve only seen from the Harry Potter movies and i’m not very familiar with Daltons work.

    The two season actors i really like aren’t old enough to be on this list(or at least i don’t think they are). They would be Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman

  3. A great list, Ruth. I’d have many of the same on mine. But I really recommend, since you have them at them at the #4 and #6 slots, you see Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. It’s some of the best work by Messrs. Eastwood and Freeman (behind and in front of the camera) which goes beyond the genres those films were listed in. And since you listed Ed Harris for his Bud Brigman, I also suggest the recent look back at The Abyss by author John Kenneth Muir in his cult review. BTW, my fave film romantic couple for 2010 was Helen Mirren and Brian Cox in RED.

    Fun reading. Thanks.

    1. Yeah I really should see both of them, though from what I read about Million Dollar Baby I don’t think I’ll enjoy it. It just sounds so depressing and I don’t like boxing movies in general.

      Oh thanks for that link, I’ll definitely check that out. And props for mentioning Mirren and Cox together, I absolutely adore both of them together. I like RED a lot even though the plot is obviously a bit silly.

  4. I’m surprised to see Alan Rickman so low on your list! 😀 Always been a big Harrison Ford fan. There was no one like him back in the 80’s and 90’s and heck, I even went and saw the last couple movies he’s been in!

    1. Um, it’s in alphabetical order, Castor 😀 I’m beginning to think people don’t read posts and just go straight to the list, ahah. No, he definitely won’t be listed last on my list if it weren’t alphabetically listed, he..he.. And yeah we both share our love for Ford, he’s just awesome. So have you seen ALL of his films Cas?

      1. Ahah but then you should do with the numbered list! 😀

        I have seen most of them, skipped nearly everything between Air Force One and Morning Glory though.

  5. Melissa Bradley

    I love all of these guys and of course I would have to include Maggie Smith as well as Malcolm MacDowell, Pierce Brosnan and Ian McKellan–I see he made your honorable mention list. 🙂

    1. Hi Melissa, is Pierce over 60 now? I thought he’s much younger than fellow Bond Dalton, that’s why I never bother to check. But I’d move Ian to my list first before I add Brosnan though.

  6. PrairieGirl

    This is a perfect list, Ruth! I’d love to see more of all of them in the future, especially Timothy Dalton. The only major omission: Sean Connery.

    Don’t miss Bottle Shock, Rickman was cast perfectly in it. And Mirren is great in Calendar Girls. One movie I wish I HADN’T seen was Million Dollar Baby. The acting was superb by Freeman and Eastwood, but the plot and subject matter I could have certainly done without… what was I thinking? ;-( And I MUST see The Conversation, I’m very intrigued now.

    1. Hey Becky, I know you kept saying Connery so I did mention above that he would’ve been included if he hasn’t already retired 🙂

      Bottle Shock is in my queue, can’t wait to see that. And Calendar Girls, too. As for MDB, I guess I’d feel the same as you.

      The Conversation is good, not overly enjoyable but still a good movie.

  7. Hi, Ruth and company:

    Superb list!

    Ruth has hit all the high marks for the A-Listers. I especially appreciate the inclusion of Ed Harris. An actor who first caught my attention playing a CIA mercenary opposite Nick Nolte in ‘Under Fire’.

    Surprised Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall aren’t mentioned. Both made their marks during the 1970s and have continued to deliver more than they have been asked for.

    Honorable Mention should also include William Forsythe. Powers Booth and Michael Ironside (Extreme Prejudice).

    1. Hi Jack, thanks, glad you approve 🙂 Sorry I left out some key people, but these are ‘favorite’ list, so of course it’s very subjective. I do think those people you mention are great. Oh, interesting you mention Powers Boothe… that guy has an amazingly deep voice. Have you seen Attila The Hun miniseries? It’s one of my guilty pleasure because of the lead actor but I really like Powers’ um, powerful performance as well.

      1. Hi, Ruth:

        Haven’t caught ‘Atilla The Hun’ because I don’t have Showtime. Check with Netflix to see if they have HBO’s old ‘Philip Marlowe, Private Eye’ series on DVD. Powers Boothe owns the role in this well done period piece mini-series from 1983. 🙂

        You could also try HBO’s more recent ‘Deadwood’.

    1. He..he… perhaps I’m a bit generous when I said ‘darn good singer’ but y’know I thought he sounded alright at the end of Gran Torino, and it’s such a hoot seeing him sing in Paint Your Wagon 🙂

  8. Ted S.

    Great list Ruth, those are great actors and their work will be remembered for years to come.

    I’m with Jack, Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall deserves to be on the list too. In fact Gene Hackman’s my all time favorite actor, he’s believable as a good guy or a villain. Too bad he decided to retire from acting.

    Even though they’ve starred in some crappy films in the last decade or so, I still would add Robert De Niro and Al Pacino to the list. They’ve done so many great work in the past.

    1. Well, the fact that Gene has retired is one of the reasons he’s not on this list 🙂 As for Duvall, I’m not too familiar w/ his work.

      Don’t hate me but I’m actually not a huge De Niro or Pacino fan, I like them in some movies but I don’t generally go out of my way to see their movies.

    1. I suppose Jack is still working isn’t he? I’ve only seen a handful of his movies though. I LOVE Oldman, but he’s too ‘young’ to be on this list, I limit it for 60 and up 🙂

      1. that handful better include “The Shining”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Departed,” “Chinatown,” “A Few Good Men,” “As Good As It Gets,” …..whew….too many….you better get busy.

        1. He..he… no, I don’t think I can handle The Shining nor The Departed, but I have seen A Few Good Men and As Good As It Gets. I’m going to check out Chinatown as well.

  9. Michael Caine was also brilliant in THE QUIET AMERICAN.
    Judy (bow immediately) is the best actress of all times. Loved her in AS TIME GOES BY and CRANFORD, which most of you probably haven’t seen, since those are British TV series.
    Jim Broadbent would be my personal favourite when it comes to gents in this list.
    I personally don’t see Timothy Dalton as a thespian, but I won’t say anything in fear of Flixy’s wrath ;P

    1. Hi Dezzy, I really should see The Quiet American, that one has Brendan Fraser right?

      You don’t see Dalton as a thespian??? Wow, you should see more of his work, Dezzy. He might not do a lot of movies lately but he’s quite busy doing theater work which is what he’s most comfortable in.

    1. Thanks Eric. Yep, they all not only look younger than their age but still so robust in their career. Harrison must be drinking from the fountain of youth he found during filming Indiana Jones! 🙂

  10. I can’t believe Alan Rickman is 65. I guess it’s because he was probably already 55 when I even figured out who he was. But then from about 1999 until today, I’ve seen 1/2 of everything he’s done. Gotta love him.

    Tom Wilkinson is a HUGE fave of mine.

    1. Rickman always look a lot younger in his movies for some reason, as Snape he looks about 50. Actually Wilkinson was going to be in my top 10 but I realize I’m more familiar w/ Ed Harris’ work. He’ll be #11 for sure John!

  11. This is a great list. I agree with them…except I’m not the biggest fan of Tim Dalton (sorry, I know you are!) haha

    There are some great additions in the comment section that people have mentioned. To add to the suggestions i would say:

    Donald Sutherland (76), Liam Neeson (61), and Robert Redford (75).

      1. Great suggestions, T, thanks for reading the criteria before submitting, ahah 😀 I feel bad I haven’t watched many Donald Shutterland’s movies but Neeson and Redford definitely would make my top 20. I didn’t know Neeson is already over 60, man that guy still looks amazing!

        1. PrairieGirl

          If you only ever see just one Donald Sutherland movie, see Eye of the Needle. A romantic thriller, one of the best ever.

  12. HAPPY FRIDAY My BFF Blogging buddy!!

    This is a list that is right up my street. With Dench and Mirren firm faves of mine. I do like a strong woman HAHA

    Nice to see Wilkinson get a mention too. Brilliant as always. You are such a clever so and so. Much better than my silly lists!!

    Have a good weekend Ruth!

    1. Happy Friday to you too, matey! Glad you enjoy the list, it’s been sitting on my draft folder too long, ahah, I’m so bad about that.

      Your lists are never silly, Custard… sheesh, you are too self-deprecating, matey. I mean, when I saw your Top 10 Movie Primates list I thought, man this guy is always spot on!

      Enjoy your weekend too, I presume you’ll be doing some packing? So happy that you’ll be going to Empire Big Screen event!

  13. Great list. Agree that Maggie Smith should be on the list – if only for her brilliance as The Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey (or are we not allowed to count TV?) I’m shocked Alan Rickman is 65, I would have guessed at a good 20 years younger, a true silver fox.

    1. Hi Louise, glad to hear another mention for Dame Maggie Smith. I feel bad I didn’t put her on Honorable Mention. Yes, Rickman is definitely a true silver fox! 🙂

  14. Hey Ruth I LOVE the term “seasoned” 🙂

    I second some sentiment about “Dame Meryl”

    Another option (I guess) could be DeNiro or Dustin Hoffman I must admit I am only thinking of them jointly because of the Fockers franhcise, which in some circles, knocks them down a few pegs 🙂

    Another solid performer is Richard Jenkins – he was about the only bright spite in “Eat, Pray, Love” and that is saying something.

    Judi Dench is an (inter)national treasure!

    1. Hi Luv, yeah I didn’t want to use the word ‘old or older’ y’know, I just feel ‘seasoned’ is a complimentary term that suit them well.

      Oh yeah, Richard Jenkins is a good one. Have you seen The Visitor? He’s so good in that one.

  15. Hey Ruth… been busy,

    Great list. Personally I cant stand Harrison Ford. He’s a jerk in real life and he hasn’t been relavant since The Fugitive. Wanna see the last Indiana Jones movie again? I thought not.

    I’ll add some of my favorite that are still relavant at 60 and up:

    John Hurt (71) – In the New Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy movie.
    Robert Duvall (80)
    David Strathairn (62)
    Glenn Close (64) – Even though she’s mostly on TV now she did a great turn on The Shield and of course Damages.
    Kathy Bates (63) – She also is doing TV now – The Office and Harry’s Law. It’s tough for her to get good roles but she’s always memorable.
    Frank Langella (73)
    Jeff Bridges (61)
    Samuel L. Jackson (61)
    Catherine Deneuve (67) – Forgotten because she does mostly French movies.
    Ben Kingsley (67)
    Bill Nighy (61) You can pretty much cherry pick great actors over 40 from the Harry Potter movies.
    Bill Murray (60) – He just gets better with age and has one of the greatest lines of all time: Little Rock: “So do you have any regrets? … Bill Murray: “Garfield, maybe.”

    I tried to think of more great women that were still relavant but couldn’t ie:

    Sally Field – I know she’s on TV but she hasn’t done a lot of work of note lately.
    Susan Sarandon – you’d have to go back to Igby Goes Down in 2002 then Dead Man Walking in 1995 before that to find something notable.
    Jessica Lange – She’s not acting so much anymore.
    Sigourney Weaver – I’ll give her a pass on Avatar but you’d have to go back to Galaxy Quest in 1999 and The Ice Storm in 1997… ok I’ll put Holes in there in 2003.
    Julie Christie – seen Away From Her (2006)? Still got it but unfortunately hasn’t been in much lately.
    Ellen Burstyn – Been 11 years since her amazing turn in Requiem For A Dream.

    BTW Ruth… check out Maggie Smith in the The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie or Murder By Death (great cast: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, James Cromwell, James Coco and Eileen Brennan. Written by Neil Simon). Should I even mention A Room With A View… which I know you’ve had to have seen already.

    As far as Robert Duvall… THX 1138, Godfather 1 & 2, The Great Santini or Apocalypse Now are no brainers. Too intense? Then see To Kill A Mockingbird, Tender Mercies, A Civil Action, Network, Lonesome Dove or The Apostle which he directed.

    Dave W

    1. Well hello Dave, long time no ‘see’ 😀 Wow, shame on me for forgetting all these wonderful names you’ve got here. Too bad that there are more males over 60 who are still working consistently, I guess that speaks volumes about the condition of Hollywood 😦

      I had no idea Frank Langella is over 70!! My goodness that guy still looks good! I think the last film I saw him in was Superman Returns a few years ago and he looked about 60 tops. And Bill Murray, yeah, talk about getting better with age!

      Thanks for your excellent list, and welcome back to FC! 😀

  16. Yeah Hollywood doesn’t have many seasoned roles for women over 60 and what they do have Meryl, Mirren and Dench gobble up… to their credit. Check out this video tribute that Tracey Ullman gives to Meryl at her AFI Tribute. It’s hilarious. I was in tears.

    Yeah great to see Langella and Richard Jenkins getting lead roles after all their great work as character actors all their lives. Have you seen Frost/Nixon? In it stars Michael Sheen as David Frost who’s played British Prime MinisterTony Blair 3 different times on screen. That has to be a record. Talk about typecasting.

    Here’s 3 pretty cool films I highly recommend starring seasoned actors.

    The Australian film “Innocence”
    Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her”
    The British film “Last Orders”
    which stars Hoskins, Mirren, Caine, Winstone, David Hemmings and Tom Courtney.

    Dave W

  17. Victor De Leon

    That was one heck of an amazing list to read through. Kudos, Ruth. Some of my faves on there! Two words: Dalton Rules!

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