Life & Culture

Seniors gain ground for Oscar gold

“When you’ve been working as long as I have, you bring a certain amount of experience to the job,” Al Pacino, 79, tells Senior Planet with a twinkle when we spoke him recently after he presented his new Amazon TV drama, Hunters, at the bi-annual TCA (Television Critics Association) in Pasadena, California.

With no signs of slowing down, he compares Hunters – a ten-part hour-long series about a diverse band of Nazi hunters in 1977 New York – to making a “ten hour movie.” Removing his John Lennon-style circular shades to empathize his point, Pacino says “I just keep on learning. Everything I’ve done in the past, brings me to this point.”

Seniors gain ground for Oscar Gold

This year’s Oscar nominations defy conventional wisdom among studios that box office success relies on young talent:  more than a quarter of nods have been granted to actors 60 and older.

Case in point: A staggering four out of five Best Supporting Actor nominations went to older actors:  Tom Hanks, 63; Anthony Hopkins, 82; Joe Pesci, 76 and Pacino. Kathy Bates, 71, features in the Best Supporting Actress category while Jonathan Pryce, 72, and Antonio Banderas – who turns 60 in August – received a Best Lead Actor nod.

“We are enjoying the confluence of Baby Boomers coming of age and all-time great artists like Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jane Fonda, Judy Dench, and Maggie Smith still performing at the top of their game,” notes legendary Hollywood producer Fred Bernstein. “These great talents appear to be aging out at a slower pace – and so is the audience,” Bernstein argues; Bernstein just completed a romantic comedy, Never Too Late, with Ellen Burstyn, James Caan and Ann-Margret.

“We are committed to riding this wave,’ he continues. “We believe Baby Boomers will remain an active audience longer than their predecessors, and younger audiences will recognize and appreciate the increased shelf life of great talent,” says Bernstein. (He’s also producing Here Today, a May-September romantic comedy – without the romance – starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish).

Tech steps in

These acting legends not only continue their brilliant careers as seniors; Martin Scorsese has even found a way to keep them young, using visual effects artist Pablo Helman to “de-age” his The Irishman stars de Niro, Pesci and Pacino, wiping more than 50 years off their faces in the process. 

“The achievement here is allowing the actors to do what they do without the technology being in the middle of it,” Helman recently told The Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s just going to keep going and we’re just going to keep trying to make this better and better.”

With his mobster drama, The Irishman, up for 10 Oscars, De Niro certainly feels younger than his age. “Most of the time, I feel younger than 76. But then, sometimes, you look at yourself in the mirror and you say, ‘Oh, geez,’,” the actor recently told The Envelope, a Los Angeles Times supplement. The actor also plays a talk show host in this year’s Joker, up for 11 Oscars.

While the whodunnit Knives Out is among this year’s Best Film award favorites, is it just coincidence that its cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, 61, Don Johnson, 70, and Christopher Plummer, 90?

Refusing to play the Botox game, an unapologetic Jamie Lee Curtis told Senior Planet that she has little patience for colleagues refusing to own up to their age. “Its ridiculous. I mean I’m not going to name someone because that would be really mean of me but there is somebody that I know pretty well who dyes his hair. And you go, ‘What are you doing?!’ Because its that weird burnt umbre colour. Where in nature?! What human being has hair that colour?! I think men look super handsome with grey-white hair,” says the actress – who proudly parades her own silver locks.

“The term, ‘anti-ageing’ is to deny the very reality,” she says.

Seniors in streaming programming

Certainly there’s a big appetite for senior programming on streaming services.  Grace and Frankie – starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin – will wrap up after seven seasons, while The Kominsky Method – featuring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin – is poised for an announcement of Season Three.

There’s plenty more to look forward to: Julianne Moore, Kenneth Branagh, Hugh Grant, David Duchovny, Colin Firth, Jane Lynch, Sean Penn, Kristin Scott Thomas and Stanley Tucci are among our most beloved actors who will turn 60 this year.

Photo: The Irishman:  Teamster lawyer Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) and Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) escort Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) to court. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise. © 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

COMMENTS

5 responses to “Seniors gain ground for Oscar gold

  1. What a great summation of who we are – Boomers Ok! Hearing from these actors who have been present through film in my life, feeling that we are all bound together by life experiences, and one of those experiences is aging. Thank you Senior Planet, and a shout-out to our Colorado SP space, which is doing great programming.

  2. Robert DeNiro saying “Most of the time, I feel younger than 76. ” He is 76 so he feels like 76. Our language is so ageist…. ” I guess he could say I just don’t feel like my concept of what 76 should feel like.”

    1. I agree w/Blair. The age we are is how that age feels, and that can cover a big range. And maybe we can stop saying”still”, e.g., Maggie Smith & company are at the top of their game — period.

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