BootLeg Betty

Aging On Screen For Your Role….The Good And Bad!

Tampa Bay Times
Meryl Streep‘s ‘Iron Lady‘ makeup works, but not every actor’s aging goes smoothly
By Steve Persall, Times Movie Critic
Friday, January 13, 2012

Hollywood is a scary place for actors growing old. Just ask Junie Hoang, an actor currently suing the Internet Movie Database and its owner Amazon for $1 million.

Hoang claims her chance of landing roles was severely compromised when the database published her age without permission. Statistics show women her age and older do have tougher times being hired as actors.

How old is Hoang? Hold onto your birth certificate. She’s 40.

No doubt that Hollywood is a youthful industry. But aging on screen is considered an acting stretch, leading some actors to age gracelessly through unconvincing makeup tricks. For every Brad Pitt going perfectly Benjamin Button there are enough poorly aged performances to fill an AARP shuttle bus.

Even Meryl Streep — who’s no spring chicken but she’s Meryl Streep — layers on the latex in The Iron Lady (opening today), playing former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in her later years. Pretty realistic but, at age 62, Streep has a head start.

The Iron Lady got us thinking about Streep’s acting peers who didn’t pull off the aging charade as successfully. Actors who buried their real ages under hours of cosmetic craftsmanship without fooling anyone. Here are a few of Hollywood’s most laughable aging make-unders:

* Armie Hammer, J. Edgar: The guy has a face so nice he showed it twice in The Social Network, playing both Winklevoss twins. Hammer’s handsomeness carried over for most of his Golden Globe-nominated performance as J. Edgar Hoover‘s closeted companion Clyde Tolson. Then Tolson ages and Hammer’s slathered makeup resembles a melting butterscotch sundae with gray hair sprinkles.

* The entire cast, Back to the Future II: Michael J. Fox is 50 with Parkinson’s disease and still looks healthier than this movie projected he would at that age. Fox’s Play-Doh facial features fared better than Lea Thompson, whose white fright wig and Shar Pei wrinkles were insulting to all. And both actors can watch the age-spotted bloat job performed on Thomas F. Wilson as Biff to know they got off easily.

* James Dean, Giant: Slicked-back hair, a pencil-thin mustache and fake bags under his eyes couldn’t make this icon of youth into a convincing old man. Dean was only 24 at the time, so perhaps the idea was doomed from the start. Or maybe if he had lived Dean would now be 80 and as unnaturally youthful.

* Winona Ryder, Star Trek: You think Ryder would’ve learned her lesson about excessive latex after her kitchen-witch look in Edward Scissorhands. No, she plays Mr. Spock’s mother despite being only five years older than Zachary Quinto playing her son.

* Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night: Most makeup is applied with brushes and pads. Crystal must have used a trowel, creating a visage resembling those old coot masks Ben Affleck used to rob banks in The Town. Look into the slits left for Crystal’s eyes and you can see a panicked man struggling to breathe. Not mah-velous.

* Bette Midler and James Caan, For the Boys: Each turbulently romantic moment in the characters’ 40-year love affair is spackled onto their heads with a complete absence of subtlety. When Midler and Caan kiss, their faces smush together like someone clapping hands holding mashed potatoes.

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