The world is fascinated with actors who become extremely successful at a young age. Jennifer Lawrence was only 14 when a scout discovered her during a family trip to NYC. Eight short years later (at 22) she is an Oscar winner (for Silver Linings Playbook) and the star of two movie franchises (The Hunger Games and X-men) which stand to make billions in the next few years. If ever offered the opportunity to switch lives with Jennifer, my undoubted reponse would be:
But we all won't be polishing our mantels to make way for an Oscar by 22. While young successful actors such as Haley Joel Osment, Tatum O'Neal, Dakota Fanning, Anna Paquin, etc. have always been celebrated, the actors who struggle for years and achieve success later in life are seldom paid the respect they deserve. In an article for Cracked, the "5 Famous People Who Succeeded Long After They Should've Quit" were discussed and among them was actor Alan Rickman.
If you are an aspiring movie actor, how long would you plug away at it before deciding it's not for you? Like, if you've made it to your mid-40s without ever appearing in a movie, that's probably a sign that you're never going to have an action figure made from you, right?
The Rock Bottom Moment:
So there was this guy named Alan who had gotten an art degree (because enrolling in drama classes "wasn't considered the sensible thing to do"), and by his late 20s was doing as well as you'd expect anyone with a degree to do. He was running his own graphic design business ... and that's when he decided to drop absolutely everything and sign up for acting classes. He even left his own company to concentrate full-time on acting, which doesn't do a lot for your financial security, it turns out.
While studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Rickman was pushing 30 and supporting himself by working as a dresser for other actors (and we mean literally helping them put their clothes on). He did get to meet stage actors like Sir Nigel Hawthorne, but their interaction at this point was probably limited to "fetch me my leotards, boy."
And this went on for years. Rickman worked in the theater scene for over a decade.
Then finally, at age 42, Rickman was cast as one of the leads in the stage version of the book Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The play was a hit and was soon adapted by Hollywood as Dangerous Liaisons. Boom! Success! Everyone involved in it became internationally famous!
Except Rickman, because they replaced him with John Malkovich.
Everyone knows Alan Rickman is famously terrible at playing creepy, evil characters.
However, Rickman's performance did catch the attention of producer Joel Silver, who two years later asked him to star as the villain in some action movie with some TV actor named Bruce Willis. Something about a bunch of terrorists taking over a skyscraper.
And to think, if Rickman had thrown in the towel before 46 we would have been robbed of classic Snape moments like this:
When your judgemental aunt asks, "When are you going to get a real job and grow up," you can smile and tell her the story of Alan Rickman. So don't fret if you haven't realized your career goals yet. Stay focused on your passion and in time, it will pay off!
(In fact, one of our very own actors at The Avenue Agency was on set with Alan shooting a movie recently, and Alan went out of his way to tell the young man his performance was superb! What an amazing compliment to Jared Carter!)