As a continuation of our previous post on Alan Rickman, here are several other actors who spent years in bit parts before becoming household names:
It wasn’t until Jane Lynch was 43 that she got her big break in the mockumentary “Best in Show,” where she played a lesbian personal dog handler opposite trophy wife Jennifer Coolidge. Lynch was cast in “Best in Show” because director Christopher Guest remembered her from a “Frosted Flakes” commercial she did in the early 90s. Since then, Lynch went on to take on roles such as the store manager in Judd Apatow’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and as the harsh, whistle-blowing high school teacher Sue Sylvester on “Glee,” which landed her an Emmy. Currently, Lynch is starring on Broadway as the alcoholic orphanage dictator Miss Hannigan in “Annie.”
Jon Hamm spent most of his twenties and thirties in Los Angeles as a struggling actor. He waited tables until he was cast in NBC’s drama “Providence," but it wasn’t until 2007 when “Mad Men” premiered that Jon Hamm gained critical recognition and fame as the suave advertising executive Don Draper. Chosen from a pool of more than 80 actors for the role, Hamm has won a Golden Globe and received eight Emmy Award nominations, for his work on “Mad Men” and “30 Rock.”
Though Connie Britton had secured minor roles on television series like “Spin City” and the political thriller “24,” she didn’t gain fame, critical recognition, and widespread adoration until she was cast in the critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights.” She gained two Emmy nominations for her work on the show, and cultivated a large following of fans throughout the show’s five-season run as Tami Taylor. Since then, she has gone one to portray Vivian Harmon in the first season of “American Horror Story” and is currently playing country western star Rayna James on ABC’s critically acclaimed “Nashville.”
Harrison Ford was hired to build cabinets for director George Lucas, which led to his subsequent casting as the lead in “Star Wars” at the age of 33. Lucas asked Ford to read lines for Han Solo, and was so won over by his portrayal that he offered the role to Ford. Since then, Ford was cast as the lead in the “Indiana Jones” franchise, solidifying his position as a leading man.
It’s hard to imagine Sylvester Stallone as a struggling actor, but early in his life, Stallone was just that. He had $50 to his name when he moved to New York and slept in New York Port Authority because he couldn’t afford rent. Stallone even resorted to shooting pornography because he was so desperate. It wasn’t until he was cast in “Rocky” at the age of 30 that it all changed. Nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa, Stallone skyrocketed to fame, landing notable roles such as John Rambo in “Rambo.”
This is not an exhaustive list of actors who have achieved great things after working hard for a long time! What actor(s) do you like who found success later in life?