30 People Who Only Became Famous After 30

Published 5 years ago

In our fast-paced modern society, everyone’s expected to succeed in life at an early age – a career, a house, a family – all of that before your thirties. These high standards often leave many young people feeling like failures. But don’t worry – there are countless examples of people who achieved success later in life, proving that it’s not important when you do it, as long as you do it.

Bored Panda has compiled a list of successful famous people who ‘made it’ later in life and their stories will inspire you to never give up. Check them out in the gallery below!

h/t: Bored Panda

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#1 Stan Lee, 39

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Even though Stan Lee started working with comic books since he was just 17 years old, it took him over twenty years to achieve success. He began working for a company called Timely Publications as an assistant and slowly rose up the ranks until he published his first comic book in 1961 – Lee was 39 at the time.

#2 Alan Rickman, 42

Image source: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Alan Rickman, the famous actor who played Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series, used to be a graphic designer and even had his own studio. But at the age of 26, he started attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art with hopes of becoming an actor. However, he only achieved his first major role in 1988, when he got the role of Hans Gruber in the movie Die Hard – Rickman was 42 at the time. After the movie, Rickman’s acting career quickly took off and he landed the role of Severus Snape in 2001, at the age of 55.

#3 Bob Ross, 41

Image source: unknown

Bob Ross only taught himself to paint after serving 20 years in the US Air Force, at the age of 41.

#4 Morgan Freeman, 50

Image source: Georges Biard

Even though Morgan Freeman loved acting since he was young, instead of becoming an actor, he joined the Air Force after finishing school. However, the actor never gave up on his dream and got his first major role in the movie Street Smart at age 50.

#5 Samuel L. Jackson, 46

Image source: pinguino k

Samuel L. Jackson was interested in drama since his early 20’s but only achieved worldwide success at age 46, for his role of Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit Pulp Fiction.

#6 Steve Carell, 43

Believe it or not, The Office was Steve Carell’s first big break – the actor was 43 years old at the time.

#7 Harrison Ford, 35

Image source: Gage Skidmore

When Harrison Ford began his acting career, he wasn’t happy about the roles he kept receiving – so he became a carpenter instead. However, someone noticed Ford’s acting and he was eventually offered the role of Han Solo in the 1977 Star Wars film at the age of 35.

#8 Christoph Waltz, 53

Image source: Zadi Diaz

This Austrian-German actor only achieved international success at the age of 53 for his role of Col. Hans Landa in the 2009 movie Inglorious Basterds.

#9 Colonel Sanders, 62

Image source: unknown

Throughout his career, Colonel Sanders tried many professions: he was a fireman, a steam engine stoker, an insurance salesman and even tried practicing law. He eventually opened his own roadside restaurant in the 1930s and opened the first franchise restaurant in 1952 – he was 62 at the time.

#10 Liam Neeson, 40

Image source: unknown

Liam Neeson tried many different professions as well, including a forklift operator and truck driver. And even though he got his first acting role at the age of 25, he only achieved his big break in the movie Schindler’s List at the age of 40.

#11 J.K. Rowling, 32

Image source: Daniel Ogren

Before writing the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling had to go through many struggles: a bad divorce, poverty, depression. However, all of these things did not stop her from writing and the first book of the highly successful Harry Potter series was published in 1997 when Rowling was 32.

#12 Susan Boyle, 47

Image source: Wasforgas

Susan Boyle’s talent went unnoticed for a long time – it was only at the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent competition that her singing talent was finally recognized – she was 47 at the time.

#13 Bryan Cranston, 44

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Bryan Cranston had many single-appearance TV roles before but only landed his first major role when he was 44 by playing Hal in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. 8 years later, he got the role of Walter White in the critically-acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad.

#14 Viola Davis, 43

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Even though Viola Davis had many small roles in different movies before, her first big break only happened in 2008, when she got a role in the movie Doubt at the age of 43.

#15 Ken Jeong, 38

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Ken Jeong was 38 when he landed his first major role in the movie Knocked Up. Before that he used to be a successful physician.

#16 Danny Trejo, 41

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Even though Danny Trejo struggled with drug addiction and even spent time in jail when he was young, that did not stop him from achieving acting success. He got offered a role in the movie Runaway Train at the age of 41 and that kickstarted his career.

#17 Julia Child, 50

Image source: unknown

Julia Child, known by many for her TV show and cookbooks, wasn’t initially even that good at cooking. She attended the Cordon Bleu cooking school in 1948 and wrote her first book in 1961 at the age of 50.

#18 Jonathan Daniel Hamm, 37

Image source: unknown

Back in the 90s when Jon Hamm was still waiting tables and trying to succeed as an actor, he promised himself that he would quit trying if he didn’t succeed until he’s 30. However, that changed after he got some roles to keep him going. But it was only when the actor was 37 that he got his first big role as Don Draper in the TV series Mad Men.

#19 Oprah Winfrey, 32

Image source: Lawrence Jackson

When she was in her 20’s, Oprah Winfrey had a job as a news anchor but was fired for being too emotional about the stories. However, it was her empathy that led to the creation of one of the most popular talk shows ever, The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986, when she Winfrey was 32.

#20 Billy Bob Thornton, 41

Image source: kubacheck

Even though Billy Bob Thornton struggled with his acting career in the 1980s, it all changed when the actor wrote, directed and starred in the movie Sling Blade in 1996 – he was 41 at the time.

#21 James Gandolfini, 38

Image source: Diariocritico de Venezuela

Before becoming the Tony Soprano that we all know, Gandolfini used to be a bartender and a club manager and only got the role at the age of 38.

#22 Sylvester Stallone, 30

Image source: Michael Schilling

At the beginning of his career, Stallon struggled with finding jobs and was even homeless at one point. However, things turned around when he got the main part in the movie Rocky when he was 30 years old.

#23 Kathryn Joosten, 60

Image source: unknown

Kathryn Joosten joined her community theater when she was 42. Before that, she used to work as a psychiatric nurse. The actress eventually landed the role in “The West Wing” at the age of 60.

#24 Jane Lynch, 49

Image source: Peterb1234

After many small roles in various different films, Jane Lynch got her first major role in the TV series Glee when she was 49.

#25 Toni Morrison, 39

Image source: Laurel Maryland

Toni Morrison, one of the most famous American novelists, worked as an editor for many years and only got her first book published in 1970, at the age of 39.

#26 Jessica Chastain, 34

Image source: Bill Ingalls

After graduating from school, Juilliard Jessica Chastain had little success with her acting career. It was only in 2011 that the actor received international success for her role in The Help – she was 34 at the time.

#27 Ray Kroc, 52

Image source: unknown

Ray Kroc only started his $600 million restaurant chain at the age of 52.

#28 Martha Stewart, 41

Image source: David Shankbone

Before the beginning of her career as an entrepreneur and media personality, Martha Stewart was working as a stockbroker in Wall Street. However, she quit to start a catering business and eventually published her first cookbook in 1982 at the age of 41.

#29 Kerry Washington, 35

Image source: David Shankbone

Kerry Washington only achieved her first major role at the age of 35 in the drama series Scandal.

#30 Donald Fisher, 41

Image source: wikipedia

Donald Fisher and his wife Doris tried many ventures throughout their lives but it was only at the age of 41 that Donald founded The Gap – a $16 billion company with over 3,000 stores worldwide.

Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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actors, celebrities, fame, older, success, work
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