As the saying goes, “time waits for no one.” The inevitability of aging is nature’s way of slowing us down. But for some Hollywood stars, crossing the big 5-0 is just one more candle on the cake. While it may only be a projection of their cinematic alter egos, more than one member of the 50+ club has proven to still have the chops to kick ass. In fact, there’s a few who seemed to be just warming up at the half century mark.
Here’s our list of the 10 Actors Over 50 Who Still Kick Ass.
10. Kurt Russell (age 62)
He may be a long removed from his days as the New York-escaping Snake Plissken, but as he displayed in The Hateful Eight, age has made Kurt Russell a mean old cuss. Ok, not really. But he certainly can pull it off on-screen, and if you cross this member of the senior club, you’re likely to be on the wrong end of a pistol whip.
In his youthful days, he was a darling of Disney films (long before Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez). Every way in which Russell was able to pull off the adorable all-American kid serves him in reverse in his more seasoned years. He’s proof that being a cinematic badass isn’t all about physical stature: it’s his glare and snarl that makes Russell truly intimidating. Look for his crusty old coder persona to be on full display in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next year.
9. Jet Li (age 52)
The Chinese martial arts star has shown no signs of aging since starting his film career over 30 years ago. A performer at an early age, Li won five gold medals in the Chinese championships of his country’s most famous sport – Wushu (performance based mix of many martial arts). He was already a big star in Asia as part of the “Hong Kong” film revival of the late ’80s and early ’90s before splashing in Hollywood as the main foe to Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4.
He went later went head-to-head with the likes of DMX and Jason Statham before becoming a fixture in the Expendables franchise. He may be a man of few words, but with those lightning fast fists who needs to talk? He may not be starring in the third installment of the xXx franchise (having been replaced by fellow over-50 badass Donnie Yen), but surely, the 52 year old Li has a few more displays of sheer awesomeness left in him.
8. Dolph Lundgren (age 58)
Another member of the Expendables team, and Sweden’s most famous action hero, is currently on the back half of his fifties. Lundgren was also a world-class martial arts competitor in his younger days, and on film today, he’s still apt to showing off his skills.
His Hollywood career started as a thug in the 1985 James Bond film, A View to a Kill, but it completely exploded a year later after starring as the notorious Apollo Creed-killing Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. More often cast as the villain than the hero, he’s held his own against Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Steve Austin just to name a few. Anyone dumb enough to cross this blond giant is likely to find out why he once promised Rocky, “I will break you.”
7. Michael Chiklis (age 52)
Chiklis was a guy who had a lot of bit parts and guest appearances on television shows, including Miami Vice, Wiseguy, and Seinfeld, before finding the role that would define him. From 1991-1995, he was The Commish (aka Tony Scali) a small town police commission in an ABC crime drama from the creator of the A-Team. It was in that role that Chiklis became familiar to millions as a no-nonsense hard ass. He later starred on the hit FX drama The Shield playing, you guessed it, a hardened police officer.
Today, he continues to play that role to perfection as Captain Nathaniel Barnes on Fox’s Gotham. You know if Chiklis is the boss, his office is one place you don’t want to get called into. He’s just as quick to eat your lunch as he is to put a foot up your backside.
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger (age 68)
It’s good to have Arnold out of the statehouse and back on the big screen where he belongs. While the restart of his film career has had a few notable setbacks of late, there’s no denying the man who embodied the Terminator remains a larger than life screen persona.
In so many ways, it’s a shame that Terminator Genysis wasn’t more of a success. For one thing, that nickname “Pops” was actually working for Arnold. Unlike some of his contemporaries, the one-time action icon seems to be actively seeking out roles that are somewhat nontraditional for him. He did this with the under appreciated Maggie (2015) and has another serious drama coming later this year in 478. But have no illusions, Arnold is still at his best when he is at his biggest. Strapped equally with guns and muscles, even as he’s now pushing 70, the former Governator is not someone to be messed with.
5. Bruce Willis (age 60)
For the one-time action movie star, age has redefined his film persona. One might contend that Willis’ time of single-handedly dispatching hordes of thugs with his quick trigger and even quicker wit are behind him. However, he continues to project a physical presence on-screen. Willis today looks less like the average Joe that everyone wants to route for and more like the menacing dad between you and your dream girl, and his roles are starting to reflect it.
He’s been taking a lot of small parts in direct-to-video films lately, cashing in on his fame and former action hero glory. Look for Willis to put his seasoned tough guy bit to work again soon enough in the upcoming remake of the Charles Bronson classic, Death Wish.
4. Sylvester Stallone (age 69)
Coming off his Oscar nominated performance in Creed, one might believe that Sly could be transitioning into a purely dramatic actor. No one would fault him for looking for roles that require the exactness of dialogue over the precision of stunt work.
Of course, that wouldn’t be Stallone at all. While he is lending his voice to two upcoming animated projects (Animal Crackers and Rachet and Clank), he’s also attached to two potential action films. He’s set to appear in the Guardians of the Galaxay sequel, as well as a film called Scarpa (the story of a Columbian enforcer), though Rambo: Last Blood is apparently off the table for now.
Whatever we can expect of him in the next of couple of years, chances are he’ll continue on as the badass we know and love. Even as he’s knocking on the door of his ’70s, Sly is still a guy who packs a punch.
3. Liam Neeson (age 63)
The man with “a particular set of skills” is not one to be trifled with. One of the more interesting elements of Liam Nesson’s career is that his rise as a bonafide action star didn’t happen until after he turned 50. He had plenty of film and TV credits to his name during his younger years, albeit mostly in minor and supporting roles. The 1990 cult classic Darkman served as an early foray into the comic realm for Neeson. However, he spent most of the next decade in dramatic roles in films like Rob Roy, Michael Collins, and Schindler’s List.
When George Lucas cast him to play veteran Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, however, Neeson’s career path seemed to take an important turn. Over the next fifteen years he began taking more physical, action-oriented roles. His signature role of course came in 2008’s Taken, where he plays a retired intelligence operative named Bryan Mills. The rest became cinematic history, as the Irish-born actor set a new trend in Hollywood for older actors starring in action films.
Even now at 63, Neeson is more than happy to flex his action muscles. He has several upcoming films and projects in development, including a film with director Antoine Fuqua that will have him playing a U.S. spy chasing down nuclear weapons. He really does have a special set of skills that he’s built up over a lifetime of work; here’s hoping he gets more opportunities to show them off.
2. Denzel Washington (age 61)
Don’t let this former winner of People’s Sexist Man Alive award fool you. He’s got a bit of temper. Well, at least on-screen he does. Whether it’s as Robert McCall in The Equalizer or John Creasy in Man on Fire, Denzel Washington has shown time and time again that you don’t want to be on his bad side.
The two-time Oscar winner is no slouch in the department of dramatic acting either, of course, but he’s easily one of the most entertaining actors on the big screen today when the going gets tough. Over the last few years, Denzel’s been paired up with several younger actors. But whether it’s Mark Wahlberg (2 Guns), Ryan Reynolds (Safe House), or Chris Pine (Unstoppable), Denzel seems to not only hold his own, but he often steals the show. One of the most popular stars in Hollywood today, we’re still hoping he finds his way into a comic book film sometime soon, though he may have missed his window at playing a superhero by a hair or two.
1. Keanu Reeves (age 51)
There’s no underestimating the shock of finding out that Keanu Reeves is in his ’50s, if you didn’t already know. And for the guy who made “whoa” a hip catch phrase, getting older might be the best thing that ever happened to him. In the past few years, the one-time alter-ego of the most excellent “Ted Logan/Johnny Utah” finally started to step out of the stereotype he’d been shoehorned into. Finally the putting the California surfer cliché behind him, Keanu has found a new identity as a marketable action star.
The success of the Matrix trilogy didn’t land Keanu as many action oriented roles as one might have been expected. However, in the past few years he’s found his new niche, with films like 47 Ronin and Man of Tai Chi. But it was the 2014 surprise hit about a retired hitman that has become his new signature role. Audiences everywhere applauded his starring role as all-American badass John Wick, rewarding the stellar action flick with a $86 million worldwide gross. Not a bad take for an film made on the relatively frugal budget of $20 million. It was enough to warrant a sequel and mint Keanu Reeves as our top actor over 50 who can still kick ass.
Hollywood is filled with aging action stars these days. Did we leave off any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.