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Career Achievement Hall of Fame

A look at the honorees of our prestigious award

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    High Achievers

    A highlight of AARP The Magazine’s annual Movies for Grownups Awards gala in Beverly Hills has long been the career achievement award, honoring veteran stars for their continuing pursuit of excellence in filmmaking for the 50-plus audience.

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    2017: Helen Mirren

    "I didn't want to be famous,” Mirren once told AARP The Magazine, “but I wanted to be a really good actress." So she spent years honing her craft in the Royal Shakespeare Company and in art films until the BBC crime show Prime Suspect made her world-famous at 46. Then came $1.5 billion worth of hits that won her three Golden Globes, an Oscar for The Queen, and at last, total artistic respect. Since then, Mirren’s movies have amassed $1.5 billion worldwide, and she has won three Golden Globes, an Oscar for The Queen and, at last, total artistic respect.  “It’s good to be queen,” she says. “Everything changes as we get older, and we have to applaud that fact, don't we? I am greatly honored by this award."

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    2016: Morgan Freeman

    “I started my movie career at 50, and some of the best years happened since then,” says Freeman, a five-time Oscar nominee (and 2005 winner for Million Dollar Baby). Whether he's portraying the president of the United States (Deep Impact), a paternal prison inmate (The Shawshank Redemption) or God himself (Bruce Almighty), Freeman brings instinctive authority to every role thanks to his distinguished demeanor and rolling voice. “At a certain point in life, if you’ve had some success, awards start to fall from the sky. But this one’s more than fun. It’s priceless.”  

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    2015: Michael Douglas

    “I never made a conscious decision to make grownup movies,” Douglas said while accepting his Career Achievement Award. Yet from his earliest days, beginning with the searing drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), the two-time Oscar-winning actor/producer has challenged audiences to leave a movie theater with more than gum on their shoes. “I’ve always gone for the script, the story, rather than worrying too much about my part,” he said. “My biggest responsibility…is to try to do films that provide a little food for thought.”

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    2014: Kevin Costner

    “I don’t run from the things I make,” said this year’s career achievement award winner at the Movies for Grownups Film Showcase in Los Angeles last fall. “Look, man, I’ve had a chance to ride with buffaloes [in Dances With Wolves]. I’ve pitched a perfect game at Yankee Stadium [in For the Love of the Game]. The movies have given me so much, and people around the world have treated me great because of them. These are the things I’ll take with me.”

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    2013: Susan Sarandon

    “We’re all experiencing the tyranny of time,” said the Oscar-winning star of Dead Man Walking and nominee for Thelma and Louise. “And it’s so fabulous when you can just carve out the present. I’m very grateful. I’m very lucky now to have officially achieved my lifetime.”

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    2012: Sharon Stone

    “I am so grateful for this day because I have had challenges that made this day a question,” the actress said tearfully after accepting her award from friend and mentor Martin Scorsese, who directed her to an Oscar nomination in Casino. “It is because I have had failures, not just successes, that I have made it to this day.”

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    2011: Robert Redford

    “I’m not retiring,” the Oscar-winning star insisted while accepting his award from longtime friend Sally Field. “I may drop, but I’m not gonna retire. There’s too much work to do.” Two years later Redford stunned movie audiences with his explosive one-man movie, All Is Lost.

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    2010: Robert De Niro

    “I’ve always made movies for grownups, including the comedies,” the two-time Oscar winner (Raging Bull and The Godfather Part II) insisted. “What are they gonna give me 40 years from now? The ‘He Lived Too Long’ award?” De Niro’s award was presented by his longtime friend Sean Penn.

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    2008: Hal Holbrook

    “This is one of the greatest moments of my life!” the veteran star said, ranking it right up there with his Oscar nomination that year — his first — for Into the Wild. Holbrook’s speech included a moving tribute to his wife, Designing Women star Dixie Carter, whom he called “the most beautiful girl in the world.” She died two years later.

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    2007: Alan Arkin

    Accepting his Movies for Grownups Award just weeks before winning his Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, the star said, “My first reaction when hearing about this award was ‘I’m a fraud! I haven’t done anything to earn it.’ It is impossible not to be creative. Creativity is our natural state.”

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