Golden oldies! More roles for mature actors

Producers are scrambling to make 'gran-coms' for older audiences

They are the celluloid crinklies, long since resigned to playing character parts. But a new crop of films starring more mature actors is giving the likes of Vanessa Redgrave and Diane Keaton a new lease of life in Hollywood.

Film producers are scrambling to produce movies featuring septuagenarian stars in an attempt to lure sixty- and seventysomething audiences to cinemas. Redgrave leads a strong cast in Song for Marion, a British drama out next month, while Maggie Smith plays a retired opera singer in Quartet, the Dustin Hoffman-directed retirement comedy that opened across Britain last week.

The so-called "gran-coms" follow last year's break-out success The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, also starring Maggie Smith, which took more than $134m (£83m) at the box office, as well as the French language hit Amour and Clint Eastwood's Trouble with the Curve.

Emma Soames, editor-at-large of Saga magazine, yesterday said Best Exotic had "proved that there was an audience that film-makers weren't previously reaching out to, green-lighting the industry for others". She added: "These 'pensioner-pound' films are indicative that subjects pertaining to old age are no longer regarded as unsexy."

Cinema audiences are getting older, with younger viewers often choosing to download films or watch movies online instead of visiting their local Odeon. Soames said: "Hollywood has been cut off at its knees. Older people love going to the movies, and they love the experience. There's also a wealth of talent among older directors and fabulous older actors. It's a ripe apple tree with a lot of fruit on it at the moment."

Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, which made Quartet, denied being influenced by Best Exotic. "It's probably a coincidence that they've occurred at similar times because it indicated a changing taste and desire."

She said "senior dramas" often had stronger plots than traditional romantic comedies, adding: "Stories are given time to develop and the films are given 'classic' themes. It's refreshing to see something other than the adrenalised action films of Hollywood, and we're excited that people want to see drama.

"Film exhibitors have found that older audiences are really enjoying the experience of cinema, so they're acting as curators. Hopefully what this shows is that our baby-boomers are fit, healthy and affluent. Being in your sixties and seventies doesn't exactly mean you're homebound. Sixty is the new fifty."

The trend isn't confined to leading women: 69-year-old Robert De Niro has a bumper 2013 in store with roles in three big films. His performance as Bradley Cooper's sports-obsessed father in Silver Linings Playbook is already being tipped for a third Academy Award before the Oscar nominations are even released. He plays alongside such veterans as Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman in the last-blast Last Vegas, out later this year.

The impact of the big screen is also influencing other genres, such as television, theatre and publishing. Hilary Boyd, the Marian Keyes of the over-sixties world, is causing a storm with her Thursdays in the Park, along with Fanny Blake's Women of a Dangerous Age and Elizabeth Buchan's Daughters. Meanwhile, Vanessa Redgrave will be back in the West End this summer, playing Beatrice in the Old Vic's Much Ado about Nothing, opposite James Earl Jones's Benedick.

Hyde Park on Hudson

UK release date 01/02/2013

Roger Michell's biographical comedy-drama tells the story of the love affair between Franklin D Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, set in 1939 when King George VI visited New York. Bill Murray, 62, is as strong as ever in the lead role alongside Laura Linney.

Last Vegas

UK release date 20/12/13

What better motley crew of actors with a combined age of 277 to star in an old-age-pensioners-meets-The Hangover flick, Last Vegas, than Robert De Niro, with Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline? The foursome play best friends who decide to throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them to remain single.

Quartet

UK release date 01/01/2013

The stalwart septuagenarian cast of Tom Courtenay, Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon star in Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, which sees a home for retired opera singers disrupted by the arrival of Jean, a diva and ex-wife of one of the residents. Comparisons have been with last year's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Song for Marion

UK release date 08/02/2013

Terence Stamp plays Arthur, the grumpy old man to Vanessa Redgrave's enthusiastic-but-dying Marion, in this British quasi-musical comedy-drama. In order to please his wife, Arthur joins the choir and, in doing so, loses some of his bitterness. Some critics said songs such as Motorhead's drown out what could be a poignant family drama.

Stand Up Guys

UK release date 04/01/2013

The male counterpart to any chick-flick rom-com must be a good old-fashioned comedy-crime, which Fisher Steven's Stand Up Guys delivers in spades. Hollywood veterans Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino play aging con men who try to get their old gang back together for one last hurrah. With its slick cast and plot, it looks promising.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests