Timeless Icons: How older male actors are succeeding in the age of streaming

8 June, 2023

The world of cinema has always been captivated by youthful exuberance, often favoring the fresh faces of emerging talent. However, in recent times, a remarkable shift has taken place, challenging the conventional norms and breathing new life into the careers of seasoned actors who have surpassed the age of 70. 

According to Parrot Analytics' talent demand data, male actors more than 70 years old are responsible for 17.0% of the total demand for male actors in the US market, an impressive share considering how youth and vitality have been traditionally glorified in the movie industry.

The accompanying chart showcases several actors over 70 years old who continue to command exceptional levels of demand in 2023. Topping the list is George Takei, renowned for his role in the original Star Trek series and celebrated for his wit, social activism, and vibrant presence on social media. Following closely is Harrison Ford, globally famous for his iconic portrayal of the Indiana Jones character, who, at the age of 80, recently starred in a new installment of the franchise.

Parrot Analytics' talent demand data shed light on a longstanding dispute between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, frequently acclaimed as the best actors of their generation and subject to numerous comparisons. While a Twitter poll seeking opinions on their looks during their younger years resulted in a tie, the demand data reveals that Pacino holds a significant lead with 35.70 times more demand than the average talent, while De Niro boasts 25.44 times more.

Other actors in the ranking have successfully maintained their popularity by starring in shows available on streaming platforms. For example, Henry Winkler played a significant role in the HBO show Barry, which recently concluded its season, Sylvester Stallone stars in Paramount+'s Tulsa King, Mark Hamill is a prominent figure in multiple Disney+ shows within the Star Wars franchise, and Arnold Schwarzenegger features in the newly released Netflix original Fubar.


Another intriguing question emerges: Are the demands for these actors primarily driven by people of the same age, or have they managed to engage younger generations and rejuvenate their audiences? To explore this, we combine Parrot Analytics' demand data with their demographic data. The ensuing chart depicts the share of young audiences (those under 30 years old) and the demand for the top 20 male actors over 70 years old in the US market.

Notably, George Takei, despite leading the ranking by a significant margin, attracts an audience that is predominantly over 30 years old, with nearly 90% falling into that category. On the other hand, Danny DeVito emerges as a favorite among younger audiences within the talent ranking, likely due to his role in the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which resonates more with the Zennial generation.

The actors who have achieved the remarkable feat of both high demand and significant engagement with younger audiences are represented in the blue area of the chart. Talents such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Sylvester Stallone have succeeded in forging connections with the younger generation, transcending generational gaps and enticing new audiences, even those who were not yet born when their illustrious careers began, while keeping their old fanbase.


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