Everyone knows that viewers over 50 are flexing new muscle at the movie house: They made huge hits of 80 for Brady, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, Sandra Bullock’s The Lost City, and Julia Roberts’ and George Clooney’s Ticket to Paradise, and they’ll stampede to see the May 2023 sequel to the $104 million hit Book Club, with Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Don Johnson. The numbers don’t lie: Top blockbusters Jurassic World: Dominion and Avatar: The Way of Water both had stars whose average age was 52.5.
But in an even more unexpected development, grownup actors are invading TV, too — and you could probably improve your odds of watching a good episode by confining your viewing to shows boasting A-list actors over 50.
The rocket fuel behind TV’s grownup renaissance? Yellowstone!
Much of the credit for the upsurge in famous aging faces on the small screen goes to the best friend Kevin Costner ever had, Taylor Sheridan (52), the cowboy and screenwriter from Cranfills Gap, Texas, whose own 260,000-acre ranch supplies the horses for Yellowstone, the hit show he created in 2018 starring Costner (68).
Its spinoffs, featuring forebears of Yellowstone’s Dutton clan, showcase more great grownup actors. Sam Elliott (78), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (both 55) star in 1883. Harrison Ford (80) and Helen Mirren (77) are lighting up the small screen in 1923. Next, Dennis Quaid (68) will play a U.S. marshal in 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, a limited series slated to arrive in late 2023. Also in the works: a possible new Yellowstone show starring Matthew McConaughey (53), because Costner may be leaving the series, and two other possible spinoffs about the Yellowstone ranch in the 1940s and the 1960s.
Sylvester Stallone and Dana Delany beat out the GOT sequel
Sheridan, along with 62-year-old writer Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos), also created Tulsa King, the perfect vehicle for the TV lead debut of Sylvester Stallone (76), as a genial, bookish New York mafioso released from prison after 25 years and making a new life for himself in Oklahoma. It’s an appealing Rip Van Winkle-ish comic drama, as the character copes with newfangled Ubers and life in a time when “GM’s gone electric, Dylan’s gone public, a phone is a camera and coffee — five bucks a cup! And the Stones, bless their hearts, are still on tour.” China Beach’s Dana Delany (66), who plays a rich Tulsa horse-farm owner, tells AARP, “Sly is in almost every scene and he’s having a ball. I’ve been telling people for years that TV is the place to be.” No kidding: Tulsa King beat the Game of Thrones sequel House of the Dragon as the highest rated series debut of 2022, breaking the one-day record for new signups to Paramount+.