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The Dansville Online
  • 14 Actors Who Got Their Big Break Later In Life

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    Not everyone is born a star. For some celebrities, it takes years of hard work, small roles, and persistence to make it in show business.
    This was the case for Jeremy Renner, who didn't get his big break until "The Hurt Locker" in 2008 when he was 37 years old.
    He went on to become Hawkeye in 2012's $1.5 billion hit "The Avengers" and is now a household name.
    Yet, Renner isn't the only late-bloomer when it comes to fame and success in Hollywood.Jon Hamm almost gave up acting at age 36.
    Hamm spent years trying to become an actor starring in minor roles, and according to his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, he almost gave it all up.
    "He would just say, I’m going to hang it up, it’s not going to work out," Westfeldt told The Huffington Post.
    However, Hamm landed the "Mad Men" role in 2007 even though he felt he was at "the bottom of the list" and created one of the most interesting characters in the history of television.
    Susan Boyle became a singer at age 47.
    The story of how Susan Boyle became famous is now somewhat legend. 
    In 2008, a 47-year-old Boyle auditioned on "Britain's Got Talent" singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from "Les Miserables."
    As judges like Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan scoffed at the looks of Boyle, she went on to surprisingly belt out the song, which led to one of the most-watched YouTube videos of all time.
    Even though she ultimately lost in the finals, the exposure online led Boyle to get her own album, go on tour, and to live her dream in real life.
    Harrison Ford was a full-time carpenter until 35.
    For the first half of his life, Ford he was nothing more than a carpenter.
    Page 2 of 6 - It wasn't until director George Lucas saw Ford doing some wood-working at a studio while having auditions for a space film he was shooting called "Star Wars" that things changed.
    According to Lucas, he knew Ford from working with him on a small role in his previous film, "American Graffiti" and asked Ford to read scenes in the role of Han Solo
    The rest became history in a galaxy far, far away. 
    Jessica Chastain had trouble getting parts until she was 34 because of her hair color.
    In the last three years, Jessica Chastain's career has shot into the stratosphere with award-winning performances in films like "Zero Dark Thirty," but early on she had trouble getting roles. 
    "Being a redhead and not having very conventionally modern looks, it was confusing for people and they didn't know exactly where to put me," she told the Huffington Post about her early career struggles.
    That changed when Chastain landed her breakout role in 2011's "The Help." Next, she'll be in Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" with Matthew McConaughey.
    Andrea Bocelli sang in piano bars until he was 34.
    Andrea Bocelli has one of the most beautiful voices in the world, but it wasn't until until he was 34 when Italian rock star Zucchero Fornaciari discovered him that he became a star. 
    Before then, Bocelli studied law and was a court-appointed lawyer and sang in piano bars.
    “I always knew, even before I played in piano bars about the effect of my voice,” Bocelli told the Independent.
    Since then, he has gone on to be one of the most popular acts in opera, selling millions of albums.
    Page 3 of 6 -  
    Alan Rickman starred in "Die Hard" when he was 42.
    Rickman was a trained actor who pursued a career in show business for years, but it wasn't until producer Joel Silver saw the actor in a stage play version of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" that his career took off.
    After Silver cast him as the villain against Bruce Willis, "Die Hard" bacame a classic and Rickman went on to have a great career starring in movies from "Sweeney Todd" to the "Harry Potter" series.
    Ken Jeong was known as Dr. Ken Jeong until he was 40.
    The man who would go on to become Mr. Chow in the "The Hangover" series could have been known as Dr. Chow.
    Comedian Ken Jeong spent nearly 20 years trying to break into the business doing stand-up, and while crafting his comedy he also practiced medicine as a physician.
    While Jeong had small roles in films like "Knocked Up" (in which he played a doctor), it wasn't until 2009's "The Hangover" that Jeong transitioned away from medicine and fully embraced the fame of celebrity.
    Kathryn Joosten was a nurse and didn't get her big break until she was 60.
    Joosten was a mother and psychiatric nurse for years, but after hearing her mother on her deathbed confess that she "regretted not having pursued her dreams" Joosten signed up for acting classes at age 42 in order to pursue her own.
    After more than a decade, she ventually landed the role of lovable secretary Mrs. Landingham on "The West Wing" at age 60. Joosten went on to win an Emmy for "Desperate Housewives" before her death in 2012.
    Page 4 of 6 - Ang Lee was a stay-at-home dad before becoming a director at 38.
    Before Ang Lee won awards for directing he could have won "World's Greatest Dad" for being a stay-at-home dad.
    After graudating from NYU film school with a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production, Lee stayed home "cooking, picking up [the] kids from school, and doing housework” while his wife, a molecular biologist, went to work.
    Lee nearly became a computer engineer after years of not being able to get into movie-making. With support from his wife to keep at it, Lee directed his first movie "Pushing Hands" at 38. 
    This began an amazing career with Lee winning the best director Academy Award for "Brokeback Mountain" and "Life of Pi."
    Lucille Ball starred in "I Love Lucy" at the age of 40.
    Lucille Ball was a pioneer for both female comedians and for comedy after creating one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, "I Love Lucy" in 1951. 
    However, she didn't become Lucy Ricardo until she was 40.
    Before "I Love Lucy," Ball went from role to role in filmsHowever, once television became a prominent medium she (along with her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz) tried to sell her vaudeville act to networks. That act became the prototype for "I Love Lucy."
    "I Love Lucy" was a huge success, and would go on to help create the modern sitcom (the show was one of the first sitcoms in history to use the three camera filming format which is standard in sitcoms today) while also making Ball a star.
    Gene Hackman's legendary career began at age 37.
    Page 5 of 6 - Before a role in 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde," Hackman worked odd jobs like field radio operator in the Marine Corps.
    Once discharged in 1951, he moved to New York to follow a career in radio, but then won some roles on Broadway. After his big break, Hackman went on to win two Academy Awards.
    Jane Lynch had many minor roles before hitting it big at 49.
    Jane Lynch had been in Hollywood for decades taking small roles on TV and in films like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Role Models" but it wasn't until a role on a Fox show that she hit the big time.
    In 2009, Lynch joined the cast of "Glee" as the gym teacher everyone loves to hate, Sue Slyvester.
    This role helped Lynch become famous while also winning her a Emmy at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmys. The next year, she went on to host the awards for her first and only time.
    Samuel L. Jackson's first big role was in "Pulp Fiction" at the age 45.
    Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood, starring in movies like "A Time To Kill" and "Snakes on a Plane." 
    For most of his career, however, he played minor roles in films like "Coming to America" and "Do The Right Thing." Then, in 1994, Jackson landed the part of Jules Winnfield in a small independent film titled, "Pulp Fiction" (a role which director Quentin Tarantino wrote directly with Jackson in mind).
    Jackson's role in the film became almost immediately iconic which led to Jackson starring in other popular films like "The Avengers," and the "Star Wars" prequels leading to one of the coolest careers in Hollywood.
    Page 6 of 6 - Regis Philbin wasn't a household name until he was 57.
    Regis Philbin started out as a NBC page and worked on "The Joey Bishop Show," but he was never widely known.
    That changed in 1988 when the morning show Philbin was working on became the nationally syndicated "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee." After almost 20 years of working on TV, Philbin's chemistry with Kathie Lee made the show a success and gave him national exposure.
    At 57, it was the first time the name Regis was in the nation's lexicon. He's been a part of pop culture ever since, most notably for hosting game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"
    Those were the stars that didn't get their big breaks until later in life. Now, see who changed their name ...
    The Surprising Real Names Of 30 Celebrities >
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