Unfortunately, Juliette Binoche (whom I adore) and Johnny Depp are already past 40.
Juliette Lewis and Leo DiCaprio are not.
I’m amazed to find that Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Hanks are 55, and Meg Ryan is 50!
Matt Damon is already 41.
Sandra Bullock is 47.
Angelina Jolie, thank God, is only 36!
Colin Farrell is only 35.
And Daniel Craig is 44.
Sorry, I just can’t think of any others right off the top of my head. It’s kind of depressing to find that so many of the actors I considered to be “of the current generation” (i.e., under 40) are actually over the hill, so to speak…
I’ll nominate Kate Winslet (36), who has done some amazing work. She’s turning out to be something of an Oscar darling like Streep, with 6 nominations and one win in the past 10 years or so. I agree her Titanic buddy Leo DiCaprio is a good choice as well.
Winslet, Jolie, DiCaprio, Farrell and Bale, definitely. I’d also say:
Idris Elba (39)
Neil Patrick Harris (39)
Jude Law (39)
Gwyneth Paltrow (39)
Jim Parsons (39)
Penelope Sanchez (38)
James McAvoy (33)
Natalie Portman (30)
Emily Blunt (29)
Anne Hathaway (29)
Anna Paquin (29)
Jamie Bell (26)
Evan Rachel Wood (24)
Saoirse Ronan (18)
I was going to include Jeremy Renner, but was shocked that he’s 41. If we expanded the age range to 45 my list would be more than twice as long. (Renner, Audra McDonald, Renee Zellweger, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Amy Poehler, Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, and so on.)
I think a lot of the actors/tresses that have been listed lack that distinctiveness and inimitability that the OP was looking for. Collin Farrell and Gwyneth Paltrow have certainly turned in some great performances, but for the most part, they could be replaced by another performer without me blinking an eye. I do agree with Christian Bale, Christina Ricci, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. And definitely Juliette Lewis, though I haven’t seen here around much lately. The rest seem either too fresh/narrow (as in: not having portrayed a wide enough variety of roles or been around long enough to judge, though I admit it may merely be that I haven’t seen them enough). Unfortunately, I can’t think of any to add. All my ideas are over 40, as it turns out! (I’d really love to been able to add Peter Dinklage, though!)
You’ve described my attitude pretty well, tadtooornamental, since I’m from a generation that grew up admiring the Star System that was groomed and managed by the studios, even after independent films became more the norm.
The Paul Newmans and Steve McQueens were on the fading end of that system but had already built their credentials by the time studios faded in power and control over an actor’s life.
I can’t honestly look at the under-50 crowd with much hope for their longevity and old-age status. Eastwood may be the oldest hangover from that era and he has had to diversify to stay viable.
Well, since Zeldar is now expanding it to actors in their forties, I figure the path of least resistance involves noting that the movie currently breaking all those records is built around a guy who keeps working the knack for self-assured sarcasm that’s been his trademark for decades: he’s got the range to rack up Oscar nominations by doing something else altogether, but always comes back to his signature audience-winning approach.
So, okay, I don’t know how much longer Tom Cruise can keep playing a good-looking action hero – but Robert Downey Jr can presumably keep deadpan snarking so long as he keeps mixing it up with other roles in between: writers aren’t going to stop coming up with great quips, and someone has to deliver 'em.
As an aside, not as a hijack, it might be informative and a bit of fun to make a list of all the actors who have been dubbed “the next James Dean” since 1955! Has to be at least 20 of them, and almost one a decade minimum. Who else has been that much of a comparator as “the next _____”?
As a further aside, we finally saw Moneyball this week and I couldn’t help seeing two faces in Brad Pitt’s: Robert Redford and Benicio Del Toro!
Despite the long list of excellent actors in my previous post, I will say that America just doesn’t seem to produce the quantity and quality of leading men we once did. These days, it seems like a lot of the best leading men are imports. Anyone have any ideas as to why? (Or am I imagining it?)
I don’t think it’s all imagined. Maybe it has to do with the willingness of so many younger American actors to get over-exposed in lightweight roles. Then there’s the seriousness with which the imports take their work. But in there somewhere is the slurpy media hype that follows American actors around. Used to be actors (both genders) had a little more privacy and respect than these people get. Maybe my memory is jaded, but I don’t remember the paparazzi hounding those older folks as much. Sure, there were scandals and misdeeds, but it wasn’t quite as in your face as Twitter, YouTube and the rumor rags make it these days.
When I think back on the roles from the last 10 to 15 years that called for a macho leading man (playing the part of an American), well, it seems like damned few of the actors were actually American. What American in the under-40 set would you cast as a manly leading man? Because I can’t think of many. Casey Affleck? Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Not exactly classic leading men.