Great things always take time. There are several people in the world who became famous only after 40. So, patience is one of the keys to success. Here are the list 20 people who became famous after 40.


1. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson got his big breakthrough in Crime movie Pulp Fiction. His acting as Winnfield was widely recognized.

Samuel L. Jackson career took a peak during his 40s. He starred in numerous hit movies including ‘A Time to Kill’ and ‘Snakes on a plane’. He didn’t strike something big until his 40s and performed a minor role in the movies like ‘Coming America’ and 'Do the Right Thing’.

At the age of 46, he got his big breakthrough in Crime movie Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino. His performance as Winnfield was critically acclaimed. He became the iconic figure in the Hollywood industry.

Leading his own line, he then appeared in numerous famous movies including The Avengers, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight and Star Wars prequel trilogy. Till date, the 69-years-old Jackson has won twenty-one awards for his critically acclaimed performance.

2. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart career came to fame after her 40s. She also worked as a Wall Street stockbroker.

Martha Stewart gets fame only after her 40s. At the age of 25, she worked as a full-time model. Even though she found some more modeling jobs but that didn’t work at all. She then worked as a Wall Street stockbroker for five years.

 During her 40s, she turned her love to cooking and creative presentation.  Since then, the 76-years-old triumphed through her several bestselling books. She achieved success through multiple business ventures, broadcasting merchandise and e-commerce.  

3. Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones is an American comedian and actress. She is active in the industry since 1987.

Leslie Jones wasn’t known to the world until his 40s. She began her career as a standup comedian. Her career came to fame when she became the cast member and writer on Saturday Night Live.

She also performed at Aspen Comedy Festival and Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. She also appeared in several famous movies including Ghostbusters, We are Family, House Arrest.


4. Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch was cast as Sue Sylvester in the TV series Glee. Her role in the movie was widely acclaimed.

Jane Lynch didn’t come to fame until her 40s. She is active in the industry since 1988 playing minor roles in the movies like ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ and ‘Role Model’. Her life-changing role came out when she cast in the TV series Glee as Sue Sylvester.

Her role was critically acclaimed. For portraying of Sue, she was awarded an Emmy Award at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy. The following year, she was appointed as to host the awards for the first time in her career.

In addition to that, she also hosted NBC sports show Hollywood Game Night, for which she won Emmy Award twice.

5. Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman was cast in his movie ‘Die Hard.’ Prior to that, he worked for show business.

Alan Rickman was an English actor as well as director. His career rose only after his 40s. For several years, he worked for show business. And then, Joel Silver recognized his inside talent while performing in a stage play version of ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses.’

His career took a huge turn when Joel Silver cast in his movie ‘Die Hard’ against the star cast Bruce Willis. His role was widely acclaimed. He then acted in numerous famous movies including ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Harry Potter’ series.

6. Connie Britton

Connie Britton appeared as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights. She won Emmy Award for two times.

Connie Britton is an American actress, singer, and producer. She has consistently worked in Hollywood for many decades. During her early days, she cast in a minor on The West Wing and Spin City but was never the star.

However, her career lit up when she appeared on Friday Night Lights as Tami Taylor. She worked on this drama series from 2006 – 2011. For her outstanding performance, she was acclaimed and was nominated twice for Emmy Awards. In 2013, she won New York Women in Film & Television Award. 


7. Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy was cast in a minor role in the comedy movie ‘Go.’ She is active in the industry since 1997.

Melissa McCarthy is an American actress, fashion designer, and producer. She began her career during the late 90s in the NBC comedy series Jenny. She then cast in a minor role in the comedy movie ‘Go’. She featured in numerous movies and TV series for more than a decade. However, she was not the star until her 40s.

In 2000, she earned the nationwide recognition playing in the TV series Gilmore Girls as Sookie St. James. A decade later, she was cast in the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly in a leading role. For that role, she won Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a comedy series.

8. Ang Lee

Ang Lee used to work as a house husband. He has directed the movies like The Ice Strom.

Ang Lee was unknown to the world until his 40s. Following his graduation in Masters of Fine Arts in Film Production from NYU film school, he used to stay at home, doing household work, look after his children and pick them from the school while his wife is a molecular biologist and went to work.

He didn’t get into the industry, so decided to be a computer engineer. However, with the support of his loving wife, he directed his first movie at the age of 38.

Since then, his incredible run began and he directed several movies including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and The Ice Strom. He won the best director award for ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain.’

9. Steve Carell

Steve Carell quit the jobs for acting. He was cast in the TV series ‘The Office.’

Steve Carell is an American comedian, producer, and director. In his early days, he worked as a mail carrier. However, it didn’t work out. So, he quit the jobs and started to perform the minor role on the stage.

At the age of 42, he got his career breakthrough in the comedy movie ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ as Brick Tamland.

The following year, he signed a deal with NBC to cast in the TV series ‘The Office. The same year, the Concord-born Carell starred in the movie ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ as a protagonist.


10. Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates began her career during the early 70s. She appeared as Molly Brown in the movie ‘Titanic.’

Kathy Bates is an American actress and director. She began her career as a stage actor in 1971. She then cast in the play night, Mother. For that role, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in 1983. Until that time, she didn’t rose to fame.

The Memphis-born Bates career took a huge turn playing in Misery in 1990. For that, she was awarded Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Since then, she appeared in numerous major roles in Fried Green Tomatoes and Dolores Claiborne. In 1997, she cast infamous movie Titanic as Molly Brown.

11. Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman career took a turn when he was 52. He was nominated for Oscar Award.

Morgan Freeman wasn’t famous until his 40s. In the 60s, he appeared in several minor roles in the movie. However, it didn’t work out. In 1989, his career took a huge turn when he appeared in the movies like Glory, Lean on Me and Driving Miss Daisy. At that time, he was 52-years-old.

In addition to that, he also appeared in the several famous movies The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, Million Dollar Baby and Invictus.

Since then, he is recognized as one of the most decorated actors in Hollywood history.  In 2005, the 80-years-old also earned Oscar nomination for his performance in the film.

12. Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston is active in the industry since 1980. He was cast in the movie Breaking Bad.

Bryan Cranston started his career playing a minor role at the Granada Theater. However, his hard work didn’t pay off during the late 80s and early 90s. In 1994, he appeared on the series Seinfeld as Dr. Tim Whatley.

His career came to fame when he appeared in the series Malcolm in the Middle as Hal. Following the successful performance, he played on crime drama series Breaking Bad as Walter White. For his role in breaking bad, he received Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.


13. Dame Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench didn’t come to fame until her 60s. She also appeared in the movie Jane Eyre.

Dame Judi Dench made her acting debut in 1957. Even though she acted in numerous Shakespeare plays, she didn’t earn recognition until her 60s. However, her career breakthrough came in the 1995’s movie GoldenEye.

Since then, she played in James Bond movies until 2015. She has won an Oscar and nominated for another six times. Since then, she has appeared in numerous famous movies including Shakespeare in Love, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Spectre, and Tulip Fever.

14. Betty White

Betty White is one of the longest-serving actresses. She has earned eight Emmy Awards.

Betty White career didn’t come to fame until his 40s. Following his appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore as Sue Ann Nivens, she came into fame. For that role, she has won an Emmy Award at the age of 51. She is one of the longest-serving actresses in the Hollywood history.

The Oak-born White is widely known as the first woman to produce a sitcom. Since then, she has received eight Emmy Awards in several categories including American Comedy Award, Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Grammy Award.

15. Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais came to fame only after his 40s. He has co-written and co-directed the series ‘The Office.’

Ricky Gervais began his acting career during the late 80s. He made his television debut in Comedy Lab. Until that time, he didn’t come into fame. At that time, he was in his late 30s. When he turned 40, he achieves a greater mainstream with his TV series ‘The Office.’

He then co-wrote and co-directed the series ‘Extra’ in 2005. The English actor also appeared in a leading role as David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. He even reenacted his role David in the comedy movie ‘Life on the Road.’


16. Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart came to fame during his 40s. He has appeared in numerous movies.

Patrick Stewart is an English actor who came to fame only after his 40s. In 1967, he made his television debut as Fire officer on Coronation Street. Since then, he played numerous minor roles in the films. But his didn’t get much recognition.

The UK-born actor career took a huge turn when he played in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Following the success of Star Trek, he was cast as Professor Charles Xavier in the film series X-Men.

17. Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones began his career as a supporting actor. He is active in the industry in 1969.

Tommy Lee Jones is an American actor and Filmmaker. The 71-years-old Jones moved to New York to pursue his acting career. During his early days, he appeared in numerous supporting roles. However, it didn’t pay off.

He earned his first leading role in the TV movie The Amazing Howard Hughes. Since then, he has given numerous hit in the movies like Men in Black series, No Country for Old Men, and Batman Forever.

The Texas-born Jones has won Best Supporting Actor Award for his marvelous performance in the movie ‘The Fugitive.'

18. NeNe Leakes

NeNe Leakes played the role of Rocky Rhoades in the series The New Normal. In 2011, she participated on The Celebrity Apprentice.

NeNe Leakes' career lit up at the age of 41. In 2008, she made her debut on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. At present, the Queens-born actress is one of the most recognized figures in reality TV series. She is widely known for her recurring role on the Fox sitcom ‘Glee.’

Additionally, she appeared in the NBC sitcom The New Normal as Rocky Rhoades. She also participated in The Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars in 2011 and 2014 respectively. The 50-years-old Leakes launched her own clothing line known as Home Shopping Network.


19. Stan Lee

Stan Lee is an American Comic-book writer. He has co-created numerous superheroes including 'Ironman.'

Stan Lee didn’t earn recognizable fame until his 40s. At the beginning of his career, he worked as an Assistant in Timely Comics. Even though he has no intention to upsurge his career as a writer but he received an opportunity in 1940, when two of his editors were fired from the job.

His career lit up when began to work for Marvel comics. His and artist Kirby worked together and their first superhero team was fantastic four. Since then, the two together created several other superheroes like Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and X-Men. They also brought their fictional character together into the team title ‘The Avengers’.

20. Billy Bob Thornton

Billy Bob Thornton career took a huge turn during the 80s. He also appeared in the movie U-Turn.

Billy Bob Thorton began his career as a musician. However, it didn’t work well. So, he moved to pursue his acting career during the 80s. He first played a minor role in as a counterman in South of Reno. But it wasn’t easy in the beginning.

A year later, his career took a huge turn when he wrote, directed and starred in the movie Sling Blade. For that, he received Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Following the success of Sling Blade, he appeared in numerous famous movies including U-Turn, Political Colors, Armageddon and A Simple Plan.