15 Actresses Who Scored Meaty Roles At Midlife

When it comes to women and aging in Hollywood, there’s still a lot of work to be done. However, it’s become increasingly clear over the last few years that we’re currently living through a sort of renaissance when it comes to older women in film and television finally getting their dues. These leading ladies landed meaty roles while middle-aged, a feat that used to be rare if not unheard of for many women in the entertainment industry. 

Roles Of A Lifetime

For far too long, Hollywood only paid attention to young starlets and left many talented older actresses in the dust. Even when older actresses did get roles, they were often relegated to those of mother or grandmother, where they offered sage advice to the younger stars and served as background characters. 

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A lot has changed in just the last few decades, with older actresses finally getting their due and the complicated roles they were born to play. We compiled a list of 15 actresses who got the chance to play characters we still can’t forget. With their experience and talent, these roles were no match for this unbelievably skilled group of women. 

Kate Winslet

Mare of Easttown, Detective Mare Sheehan

Kate Winslet smiling on red carpet in black gown
(The Image Worx/Shutterstock.com)

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Tracee Ellis Ross

Black-Ish, Rainbow Johnson

Tracee Ellis Ross smiling in red gown against white backdrop
(a katz/Shutterstock.com)

Laura Dern

Big Little Lies, Renata Klein

Laura Dern smiling in black and red strapless gown against teal backdrop
(Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock.com)

Jennifer Aniston

Cake, Claire Bennett

Jennifer Aniston smiles in black gown against white backdrop
(Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com)

Reese Witherspoon

The Morning Show, Bradley Jackson

Reese Witherspoon smiles in bright pink dress against gray backdrop
(lev radin/Shutterstock.com)

Cate Blanchett

Don’t Look Up, Brie Evantree

Cate Blanchett smiling in black sequined dress against blue backdrop
(lev radin/Shutterstock.com)

Gwyneth Paltrow

The Politician, Georgina Hobart

Gwyneth Paltrow smiles in strapless black gown with green necklace against bubblegum pink backdrop
(lev radin/Shutterstock.com)

Sandra Oh

Killing Eve, Eve Polastri

Sandra Oh smiling in rose-gold top against yellow backdrop

Viola Davis

The Woman King, Nanisca

Viola Davis smiling in purple gown against white backdrop
(Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com)

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Sandra Bullock

The Unforgivable, Ruth Slater

Sandra Bullock looking to the side in blazer with pink and purple detail against background of foliage

Taraji P. Henson

Empire, Cookie Lyon

Taraji P. Henson smiling in black glittery gown against bright orange backdrop
(Alex Millauer/Shutterstock.com)

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Pamela Adlon

Better Things, Sam Fox

Pamela Adlon in closeup wearing blue scarf against gray blue backdrop

Regina King

Watchmen, Angela Abar/Sister Night

Regina King in orange gown against bright blue backdrop

Nicole Kidman

Being the Ricardos, Lucille Ball

Nicole Kidman smiling in black top outside
(Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.com)

RELATED: Fans Have Strong Negative Reaction To Nicole Kidman’s Vanity Fair Cover Photo

Octavia Spencer

Hidden Figures, Dorothy Vaughan

Octavia Spencer waving and smiling in black top and black blazer against white backdrop

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