Sometimes when turning on the TV or opening up an entertainment magazine, it seems like all celebrities these days hit their peaks when they’re between 22 and 25. It’s hard to believe Jennifer Lawrence is only 27 considering she has an Oscar already and numerous nominations. But while it might seem like all stars are either former child stars or have famous parents to give them a leg-up, there are a surprising number of actors who started late with their careers, sometimes not pursuing the entertainment industry seriously until they were over 30.
For example, Danny Glover, star of massive hits like Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple, wasn’t some struggling theatre kid like so many other stars. Instead, he worked as a city administrator doing community planning. The job wasn’t exactly glamorous, but he was satisfied enough with it to keep it for several years. However, in 1979, he quit his job and decided to make a daring career move — to become an actor full time. Considering he was already 31 at the time, his friends and family probably thought he was crazy. After all, that’s the age people normally slow down and raise families. However, Danny said the transition wasn’t as hard as it appeared.
“I didn’t think it was a difficult transition,” he told Ability Magazine in 2002. “Acting is a platform that can become a conveyor for ideas. Art is a way of understanding, of confronting issues and confronting your own feelings—all within that realm of the capacity it represents. It may have been a leap of faith for me, given not only my learning disability but also the fact that I felt awkward… Whether it’s art, acting, or theater that I’ve devoted myself to I put more passion and more energy into it.”
Check out the gallery below to see more actors who didn’t seriously pursue their acting careers until they were 30 or older.
Harrison Ford Actors Started Late
Although he started acting in 1966, he was so unsuccessful he took up carpentry to support his then-wife and two sons. It wasn't until he was cast in Star Wars in 1980 that he became a full-time actor — he was 38.
Danny Glover Actors Started Late
Before becoming a Hollywood star, he worked an average job doing community development. However, in 1979 he decided to quit his job and pursue acting full time. He was 33. Eight years later he was cast in his breakout role in Lethal Weapon.
Billy Bob Thornton Actors Started Late
Billy Bob Thornton
Sure he's an Oscar-nominated actor today, but before finding fame with Sling Blade, he instead laid asphalt for a transportation company. After dropping out of college, he decided to seriously pursue acting in the mid-80s. He was 31.
Bill Pullman Actors Started Late
Before he beat up aliens in Independence Day and starred alongside Jessica Biel in the TV show The Sinner, Bill was a little-known theatre professor at SUNY Delhi and Montana State University. His students persuaded him to pursue acting, which he did in 1986 when he was 33.
Ricky Gervais Actors Started Late
Although the comedian is known for the hit show The Office, before fame he dabbled in many areas. He first played in a new wave pop band in his early '20s and then later worked as an assistant events manager for the University of London Union. His last career segue was in radio where we worked as the head of speech at XFM. Somewhere between all this he started writing sketch comedy, and he made his TV debut in 1998. He was 37.
Jason Statham Actors Who Started Late
The handsome action movie star, who appears in The Transporter and The Expendables, found acting somewhat accidentally. For most of his 20s he was a trained diver for Britain's National Diving Squad. Although a talent scout got him a job as a model for French Connection, he still sold counterfeit perfume and jewelry on the street to make money. When he ran into director Guy Richie, who was looking for a black market salesman-type actor to appear in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, he was cast on the spot. He was 31.
Michael Emerson Actors Who Started Late
The Lost and Person of Interest star worked for years as a freelance illustrator before graduating with a Master's from the prestigious University of Alabama acting program in 1995 when he was 41, nearly 15 years older than his fellow graduates. He landed his first on-screen gig two years later.
The Modern Family star is on one of the most popular sitcoms today, but while in his 20s he lived in his car while finishing up graduate school. It's unclear why he waited to pursue his career late, but he didn't get his first acting job until 1999, when he was 32.