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13 Men of Action Still Doing It After 60

February 26th 2009 07:53

Sylvester Stallone at 62
The movie tough guy seems to be a dying breed.

Last year I wrote about the lack of new action stars making an impact on Hollywood. Christian Bale is an obvious stand-out in this generation and he is cementing his position as the number one hard man with roles in The Dark Knight and the upcoming Terminator Salvation.

Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, Jason Statham and Gerard Butler have put in some great ass-kicking performances in recent times, while Sam Worthington and maybe Channing Tatum are the next breed to give the position a decent crack.

But, where are the next Clint Eastwoods, Harrison Fords, Arnold Schwarzeneggers, Steve McQueens and Charles Bronsons. Certainly not in the form of the Hayden Christensens, Paul Walkers and Shia LeBoeufs of the world. It probably means the older generation of action star is having to work longer, well into their senior citizen years.

Take old Sly Stallone for instance. There he was with the boxing gloves and machine gun both hung for good, or so it seemed. But, he's back and, as the photo above testifies, has been hitting the gym, and no doubt other forms of assistance, in order to get back on the front line where he is needed. He is shown, in all his vein-popping glory, as he will look in The Expendables, to be released next year.

But, he's certainly not the only actor who has dealt in cinematic action well beyond the retirement age ...

Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun

13. Leslie Nielsen
BORN: 1927

68 in SPY HARD (1996)
66 in THE NAKED 33 1/3 (1994)
63 in THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2 (1991)
60 in THE NAKED GUN (1988)

Nielsen probably hasn't been everyones' cup of tea in recent years, appearing in almost every spoof movie that has been released including the good, The Naked Gun (1988), the bad, Superhero Movie (2008), and the just plain ugly, 2001: A Space Travesty (2000), but he must get some credit for getting out there and having a go, even into his 80s.

His performance, which sparked his comeback, as the bumbling Lt Frank Drebin in the original Naked Gun should not be downplayed as it, along with the actual film, was comedy gold. Released well before the likes of Meet the Spartans, Date Movie and all that other crap, which clogged up up the parody pipes, The Naked Gun, in my opinion, is right up there with Airplane (aka Flying High), which he also starred in and delivered the famous line, "And don't call me Shirley".

Before entering the world of the movie spoof full-time, Nielsen was probably best known for playing Commander JJ Adams in sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956) and if you were a fan of the Stephen King-penned Creepshow (1980), playing the guy who drowns his wife and her lover by burrying them in the sand before the tide comes in.


Sylvester Stallone as Rambo

12. Sylvester Stallone
BORN: 1947

63 in THE EXPENDABLES (2010)
61 in RAMBO (2008)

Only just reached 60, but Sly seems to have found a new lease of life in recent times after a number of years in the wilderness. He hit rock-bottom after a string of flops including Get Carter (2000) Driven (2001) and D-Tox (2002), but he and his career have been reinvigorated after reprising the parts that made him famous.

He got back in the ring to play an elderly Rocky Balboa, 16 years after he last portrayed the boxer, and then saddled up for another shot at John Rambo, 19 years after his last battle. Despite his age, JB showed he'd lost none of his killer instinct, as he came out of self-imposed exile to rescue a group of Christian aid workers in war-torn Burma. Gory, the film had the highest body count of any Rambo movie (236).

While Stallone probably won't back for a seventh installment in the Rocky series, chances are he will return for a fifth Rambo movie sometime in the near future. Before then though, a a newly streamlined Stallone is gearing up for the action extravanganza The Expendables (2010), which he will also direct, and co-star Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Ben Kingsley, Eric Roberts and now possibly Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Sidney Poitier as Oscar Winner

11. Sidney Poitier
BORN: 1927

69 in THE JACKAL (1997)
64 in SNEAKERS (1992)
60 in LITTLE NIKITA (1988)
60 in SHOOT TO KILL (1988)

One of the great actors of all-time in any genre (well, in my opinion anyway) who was equally adept at action as he was drama or comedy. He was of course the first black man to win an Academy Award when he received the gong in 1963 for his performance in Lillies of the Field. It came five years after his first nomination for The Defiant Ones.

Poitier reached his peak in 1967 with a trio of hits dealing with racism including To Sir With Love, as a black school teacher in a white-dominated school, In The Heat of the Night as a black detective in a white-dominated community, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? as a black doctor who becomes involved romantically with a white-dominated woman and her white-dominated family.

I remember him best in one of my favorite action movies of the '80s, Shoot to Kill (or Deadly Pursuit as it was known in Australia and the UK when released) as a 'city boy' FBI agent Warren Stanton who must team with Tom Berenger's 'mountain man' to track down a murderous jewel thief in the wildneress of North America. It was somewhatof a comeback for Poitier after 10 years in the movie wilderness.

It was one of a number action-based parts Poitier played before he retired in 2001. There was also Little Nikita (1988) with River Phoenix, the highly enjoyable Sneakers (1992) with Robert Redford, and the mediocre The Jackal (1997) with Richard Gere and Bruce Willis.


Al Pacino in Righteous Kill

10. Al Pacino
BORN: 1940

67 in RIGHTEOUS KILL (2008)
62 in THE RECRUIT (2003)
61 in INSOMNIA (2001)

Has there been an Al Pacino movie in which his character has not had a gun in his hand at some point? Yeah, maybe Scent of a Woman (1992) in which he played a blind guy, though he was still ex-military. But my point is the guy is nearly always playing some genuine badass, usually associated with the mob but sometimes on the other side of the law.

There has been fewer better badasses than young Michael Corleone who inherits the 'family' business in The Godfather (1972), one of Big Al's first movies. He even does away with his own brother in the celebrated sequel (1974). Even when he's playing a homosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that) he's wielding a rifle, in Dog Day Afternoon (1975).

The badasses have just kept coming over the next three and a half decades - Scarface (1983) and Heat (1995) just to name a couple - right up to the recent Righteous Kill alongside old pal Robert De Niro in which they play a couple of seasoned New York detectives on the trail of a serial killer. The film was not that well received however, with Big Al nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for his performance as David Fisk.


Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

9. Harrison Ford
BORN: 1943

65 in CROSSING OVER (2009)
62 in FIREWALL (2006)

The undisputed box-office king of the '80s and early '90s, he brought to life two of the most iconic action figures of all-time in Star Wars' captain of the Millenium Falcon Han Solo and that whip-wielding archaeologist Indiana Jones, not to mention other memorable big screen roles such as a fugitive doctor hunting a one-armed man and a cop pretending to be Amish who doesn't like ice-cream.

I actually doubted we'd ever see another Indy adventure after The Last Crusade in 1989 when Ford was in his 40s and in his prime, but after two decades he made his big comeback. While the film had its share of critics, Ford looked amazing for someone in his mid-60s, still doing alot of his own stunts. Also, he apparently kept himself in such good shape that his costuming measurements for this film had not changed from those in The Last Crusade.

Ford works spasmodiaclly these days, appearing in about six movies in the last 10 years, including actioners Hollywood Homicide (2003) and Firewall (2006) and the paranormal What Lies Beneath (2000). We may see him in yet another Indiana Jones movie, but until then he'll be starring as a border control officer in this year's Crossing Over, earring and all.


Burt Lancaster

8. Burt Lancaster
BORN: 1913

72 in TOUGH GUYS (1986)
65 in ZULU DAWN (1979)
60 in THE MIDNIGHT MAN (1974)

The six-foot-one former circus acrobat got into acting after being in the army during World War II. Lancaster's most famous role would that of Sgt. Milton Warden who gets to roll around on the beach with Deborah Kerr as the tide comes in during From Here to Eternity (1953). It's one of the most famous scenes in movie history.

It opened the floodgates so to speak to numerous hits in numerous genres for Lancaster, including many a western such as Apache (1954) in which he played an Indian; Vera Cruz (1954) with Garry Cooper; and Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), playing Wyatt Earp alongside Kirk Douglas' Doc Holliday.

Always a strong character whether he was playing a doctor, lawyer, soldier, cowboy or cop - five parts pay the course for him - Lancaster continued to work consistently right up until his death in 1994. He took to the battlefield in the late 70's in Go Tell the Spartans (no, not those Spartans) and Zulu Dawn and won a Best Actor Oscar for Atlantic City (1980).


Gene Hackman in Unforgiven

7. Gene Hackman
BORN: 1930

70 in HEIST (2001)
67 in ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998)
61 in UNFORGIVEN (1991)

It seems a shame this great, often imposing actor rode off into the sunset with nothing more than a whimper, with his last film Welcome To Moosesport (2003), a lame political comedy co-starring dead-pan funnyman Ray Romano. Hackman, who won the 1974 Best Actor Oscar for playing a cop in The French Connection (1971), could be as tough as they come on screen, whether it be as the good guy or the bad.

Some of his greatest performances have come with a light-hearted tone, such as the scheming Lex Luthor in the original Superman series (1978-87) and as the equally scheming but more pathetic Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums (2003), but Hackman could be just plain scary in his later years, and it doesn't surprise that he was in fact the first choice to play Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs (1989)

A big man at six-foot-two, Hackman won another Oscar (for best supporting actor) in Clint Eastwood's modern classic western Unforgiven, in which plays a heavy-handed sherrif, Little Bill Dagget who kicks the absolute shit out of Richard Harris and then Eastwood himself. Hackman went on to star in another three westerns and a number of crime and war movies right up until Behind Enemy Lines (2001) when he was 71.


Kirk Douglas in Saturn 3

6. Kirk Douglas
BORN: 1916

69 in TOUGH GUYS (1986)
63 in SATURN 3 (1980)
62 in THE VILLAIN (1979)

One of the last living superstars of the '50s, the dimple-chinned Douglas just turned 93. Suffice to say he doesn't bother much with movies these days, apart from when he appears with son Michael in It Runs in the Family (2003).

The five-foot-nine Douglas made his name in films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), The Vikiings (1958) and Spartacus (1960) so he knows what action is all about in all kinds of different forms - on the land and on the sea.

Continued to work in the genre well beyond his 60th birthday, but in more abscure offerings such as starring as a government agent in paranormal-filled The Fury (1978), appearing with Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh from Austria, in the oddball western The Villain (1979) and coming Down Under to make the big screen adaptation of Banjo Patterson's legendary poem The Man From Snowy River (1982).

He also ventured to outer space for the sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, in which he gets to frolick with a young Farrah Fawcett and then do battle with a deranged man (Harvey Keitel) and a deranged machine (Hector). Then there the team-up with old mate Burt Lancaster in Tough Guys (1986), which sees a couple of old-time gangsters released after many years in jail.


Christopher Lee in Star Wars

5. Christopher Lee
BORN: 1922

82 in REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
79 in THE TWO TOWERS (2002
62 in THE HOWLING 2 (1985)

So a stunt double featuring his super-imposed face was used in most of Lee's fight scenes in his two Star Wars prequel appearances as Sith Lord Count Dooku, but let's not spoil the fun. Seeing this old man go head-to-head with not only Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, but also Jedi master Yoda at the end of Attack of the Clones (2002) was one of the highlights of the entire trilogy. He backed up for Revenge of the Sith, but bit off more than his old chompers could chew.

At six-foot-five and with his deep voice, Lee is an icon in the horror genre, having made the role of Dracula his own in the '50s and '60s, often appearing alongside Peter Cushing's van Helsing. Interestingly, Lee was offered, but turned down the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in the orginal Star Wars film and replaced by Cushing. He also turned down the role of Dr Sam Loomis in John Carpenter's original Halloween, which he apprently regretted.

A true master of playing villains, Lee was also memorable as Saruman the evil white wizard from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, giving Ian McKellan's Gandalf the Grey an old fashioned Middle Earth ass-whipping, but then finding himself 'rooted' by a bunch of trees.


Sean Connery in The Rock

4. Sean Connery
BORN: 1930

68 in ENTRAPMENT (1999)
65 in THE ROCK (1996)
64 in FIRST KNIGHT (1995)
60 in THE HIGHLANDER 2 (1991)

Your typical 'man who men wanted to be and women just wanted'. The dashing, suave action hero who will be forever remembered as the original - and best - James Bond. The Daniel Craigs of the world will come and go, but there will only be one Connery. First played 007 in 1962 in Dr No and for the final time in 1983 in Never Say Never Again.

Personally, I liked Connery best as the tough-as-nails veteran street cop Jim Malone in The Untouchables (1987) who didn't mind pounding a criminal or two with his bare fists, even when they were dead for a couple of hours, and as Indiana Jones' dear old dad, the umbrella-waving book worm Henry Jones in The Last Crusade (1989).

Before retiring from the acting game in 2003, brought on after appearing as adventurer Allan Quartermain in the lacklustre adventure flick The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (at 73), Connery showed he still had some fight left in him in Michael Bay's action thrillride The Rock with Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris. His character, John Mason, the last man to escape from Alcatraz, is forced back to the disused prison island to stop a team of renegade marines.


Charles Bronson in Death Wish V

3. Charles Bronson
BORN: 1921

72 in DEATH WISH V (1994)
71 in THE SEA WOLF (1993)
65 in DEATH WISH IV (1987)
63 in DEATH WISH III (1985)

Famous for his manly moustache, Bronson was the consumate movie tough guy, made from a mould long extinct. He learnt his trade either shootin' up the bad guys guys of WWII, in The Great Escape (1963) and The Dirty Dozen (1967), or the old West, in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Once Upon A Time in the West (1968). Though only five-foot-ten, he could certainly pack a punch too.

He was considered for the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981), but director John Carpenter felt Bronson, at 60, was not only too old but just too damn tough, and so cast Kurt Russell instead. He also tested for Christopher Reeve's role in Superman (1978), despite being in his late 50s. I just can't see Chuck in red undies.

In his final theatrical film before his death in 2003 aged 82, Bronson reprised the role he was most famous for, the original urban vigilante Paul Kersey. Despite his advancing years the character is still taking no shit, this time out for justice when his new fiance is threatened by mobsters of the fashion world. It was 20 years after Bronson first starred as Kersey and went looking for street scum after a young Jeff Goldblum famously raped his then wife and daughter.


Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino

2. Clint Eastwood
BORN: 1930

77 in GRAN TORINO (2008)
71 in BLOOD WORK (2002)
69 in SPACE COWBOYS (2000)
62 in IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993)
61 in UNFORGIVEN (1992)

He conquered the spaghetti west as a gunslinger in films such as A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1968), cleaned up the mean city streets as a cop in five Dirty Harry movies, photographed some bridges over in Madison County while having an affair with Meryl Streep, and is now taking on suburban scum from his rocking chair.

The Village People probably had the six-foot-two Clint in mind when they were poncing about singing 'Macho, Macho Man'. He is the ultimate man's man who has been churning out hit after hit for the last 50 years with full force, whether it be in front or behind the camera - or in the bedroom. He does have seven children afterall.

In Gran Torino he is at his grissly best when he plays Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski who's constantly pissed off, and with good reason. Not only has he just lost his wife, he's got his inconsiderate, disrespectful pain in the arse sons and their families trying to ship him off to a retirement village, while at the same time becoming a target of an Asian gang because he stopped the theft of his prized 1972 Gran Torino sports automobile, an inititation for the kid next door.


1. John Wayne
BORN: 1907

68 in THE SHOOTIST (1976)
64 in THE COWBOYS (1972)
62 in BIG JAKE (1971)
61 in TRUE GRIT (1979)

If he didn't die from lung cancer in 1979 at the tender age of 72, there is little doubt 'The Duke' would've been up to his armpits in action throughout his 70s and 80s. That said, Wayne's last film role was playing a dying gunfighter, JB Books aka The Shootist, who spends his last days looking for a way to pass away with a "minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity".

Apparently, Wayne greatly admired The Shootist director Don Siegel and had said he would like to have played Clint Eastwood's role in Dirty Harry (1971), which was helmed by Siegel. Wayne was never actually offered the part however because of his age, although he later made two cop movies of his own, McQ (1974) and Brannigan (1975).

In 1973 Clint Eastwood wrote to Wayne, suggesting they star in a western together. Wayne wrote back an angry response criticizing the revisionist style and violence of Eastwood's latest western, High Plains Drifter (1973). Consequently Eastwood did not reply and no film was made.

He was of course the go-to guy in many a war and western movie in the '50s and '60s, winning an Oscar in 1969 for his performance as the eye-patch wearing US Marshall Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969) and reprised the role in Rooster Cogburn (1975), his second last movie.


NOTE: Ages are roughly based on when filming for each film took place, on average one year before release.

4 Honorable mentions

Michael Douglas
MOVIE: The Sentinel (2007)
AGE: 61

Alec Guiness
MOVIE: Star Wars: Episide VI - A New Hope (1977)
AGE: 61

Robert De Niro
MOVIE: Righteous Kill (2008)
AGE: 65

Robert Redford
MOVIES: Spy Game (2001) The Last Castle (2001)
AGE: 65

Any more?

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8 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Morgan Bell

February 26th 2009 09:04
good old Gene Hackman, he must have one of the most solid and consistant acting careers of anyone to grace the silver screen

Comment by Jarrah

February 26th 2009 22:37
John Wayne's not dead, hes frozen, and as soon as we find a cure for cancer we're gonna thaw out the duke and hes gonna be pretty pissed off.
You know why?
Have you ever taken a cold shower?
Well multiply that by 15 million times -- that's how pissed off the dukes gonna be.

Comment by James Rickard

February 26th 2009 22:38
If they had a movie award higher than an Oscar John Wayne should have gotten it for The Shootist.

Comment by Bryn

February 27th 2009 01:24
I've never been a fan of Marion, er, John Wayne.

You missed Roger Moore! He was 58 when he played James Bond in A View To A Kill. Not even Sean got to that age playing Bond. Will Daniel Craig? I doubt it very much. Perhaps Pierce Brosnan will return to the role in a few years ... he's 55 now.

Comment by Lilla

February 27th 2009 02:07

I guess we will have to wait another 20 or 40 years to see if the Orlando Blooms, Christian Bales, Johnny Depps and Wil Smiths of this generation stand up against this impressive list.

I did see a doco once on Clint Eastwood taking trials runs of about 80 health pills a day to see if it offers him logevity beyond the others?

Ooh and THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for the delicious eye candy..mmmm ..some of my favourites here.. did miss seeing De Niro though, I think I like him most of all *lol* although I have no idea how old he or Robin Williams are?

Lilla ...

Comment by Lilla

February 27th 2009 02:09
Hahahah Bryn,

Pierce would do well to stick to acting, *ROFL* his singing wont get him there, thats for sure Mamma Mia! *still cringing*


Comment by Anonymous

March 18th 2009 06:53
Oh that pic of Sylvester Stallone just made me vomit a litltle in my mouth.

Comment by Anonymous

May 10th 2012 15:10
und welche Frauen gibt es?

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