Over 40 and fabulous: Who’s ready to take up the torch?


We’ve been hearing an awful lot about the elder stateswomen of Hollywood taking over the airwaves lately. From Glenn Close in Damages, Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer, Sally Field in Brothers & Sisters to Mary-Louise Parker in Weedsa, Lili Taylor in State of Mind and Holly Hunter in Saving Grace, women of a certain age have been generating a whole lot of buzz. Even Whoopi Goldberg joining The View could be viewed as part of the “trend.”

With all this positivity going on around about these lovely ladies, I’m led to wonder about the future. What I want to know is this: Are any of today’s youngsters going to be ready to step up to the plate when these ladies take their final bows and gracefully exit the stage? Now, I know that’s likely a long way off, but that doesn’t make my curiosity any less. So I decided to don my Carnac the Magnificent-like turban and see if I could find any answers in my crystal ball. Forgive me if said crystal ball provides some somewhat strange replies. The power is on the fritz here due to some nasty thunderstorms last night, and I’m afraid my battery supply is being used elsewhere. (I meant in flashlights, people!)

The ’70s sweethearts: Drew Barrymore, Kate Winslet, Clea Duvall and Charlize Theron

These thirty-somethings (Duvall turns 30 in September) are edging towards 40, and doing it quite gracefully. Barrymore has more life experiences, some of them illegal, than most women her age. She’s been a star, a mess and a star again. Who wouldn’t love to see her on a weekly basis? I’m thinking she’d be grand in an intelligent satirical comedy like her Boys on the Side co-star found in Weeds. Winslet is class. She knows who she is and doesn’t really give a toss about who Hollywood thinks she should be. I can see her coming to a point, like Holly Hunter did, where she chooses TV because that’s where more of the complex, layered characters are found. Duvall is the goddess of independent film. Sound a little like Lili Taylor to you? Me too. Plus, she’s clearly not afraid to do TV. Carnivale and Heroes, anyone? Theron is the actress in the group most likely to remind me of Glenn Close and Meryl Streep. Why? Because she disappears into her characters like only the best can do. Like when I watch Close and Streep, I have to look at least twice to believe that it is Theron inhabiting a role. These ladies have it going on.

The ’80 babies: Julia Stiles, Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley and Evan Rachel Wood

These beautiful ladies are smack in the middle of young starlet central. Stiles has starred opposite Stockard Channing and Julia Roberts. As far as I’m concerned, that’s pedigree enough. But she’s also done dance, romance, and action thriller. She’s got more under her belt than you might expect, and I can’t wait to see where she goes next. Portman’s been in a galaxy far, far away, given birth in a Wal-Mart and gone bald to pursue a Vendetta. She’s got both style and substance. Knightley conquered our little lesbian hearts in Bend It Like Beckham and conquered the high seas with Orlando Bloom. She’s got that indefinable star quality that makes us want to keep watching for a long time to come. Wood (who turns 20 in September) is slated to be a part of the upcoming bio-pic about the Bronte sisters that’s scheduled to start filming in September. She’s played daughter to Michael Douglas, Sela Ward, and Holly Hunter. That should be quite enough to guide her into the land of adult roles and career longevity. These ladies are the kind of stars I want to see last for a very long time.

The teen: Emma Watson

That’s right, gang; little Hermione Granger will one day grow up. She’s already started, and she’s doing it well. Even amid the blinding lights of J.K. Rowling‘s magical kingdom and the glaring flahsbulbs of Hollywood, this teen has kept her cool and her priorities. She wrestled with a way to mesh university with Hogwarts before signing on for the final two installments. Remind you of anyone? Teen stardom. Break for school. I’m having visions of Jodie Foster in my crystal ball. Sure, she’s got a long way to go before she hits that kind of level, but if Watson has half the drive, class and intelligence of Foster, she’ll be just fine. And she’ll be around well into her forties at least. I, for one, am going to have a blast watching her.

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