Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

OMG! Look What Happened To….

Social media exploded this week when a Hollywood star stepped out on the red carpet for the first time in a while. I’m talking, of course, about Tony Sirico. Here he is in his most famous role, as Paul Gualtieri, aka “Paulie Walnuts,” in The Sopranos:

Can peel paint from a house at distances up to 20 yards

I don’t think anyone on that show could threaten with a ‘look’ as much as he could. Yikes. And here is Mr. Sirico recent–


Well, since we’re on the subject of mobster types, we ran into another guy who was especially famous for playing mobsters. Look, it’s Ray Liotta, star of that film I just can’t get enough of, Goodfellas! Remember him?


Okay, okay, maybe that’s not fair–those pictures were taken some 20 years apart, so we’ll just let him pass by. Hey, wait…I think I see David Duchovny! Duchovny’s great. I was a big fan of his back in his X-Files days, and I loved the first few seasons of Californication. I’m not crazy about the last few, but Duchovny was always entertaining as Hank Moody. Here he is back in season 1, just seven years ago (you know, around the same time we last saw Renee Zellweger in public). I can hear the heart’s a-thumping all across the land.

And here he is this year:


Okay. Chill. Take a deep breath. Here’s the thing: these people? They’re PEOPLE. Like me, like you. And one thing I’ve noticed about people as I get older is they age at different rates, and age faster at some parts of their lives than others. Go to a high school reunion and you’ll see some folks who look like they did the day they grabbed their diplomas and walked off into the sunset. You’ll also see some who look ten or twenty years older than everyone. And maybe ten or fifteen years down the road, those prematurely-aging types will look exactly the same, and Mr. Youthful will look about 108. As for Renee Zellweger? It really has been a few years since she’s been out in the public eye–it’s natural that we’d notice a difference (especially because it looks like she went out without a super-thick layer of makeup). Did she have work done? Maybe yes, maybe no, but who cares? It’s her body, her choice, right? And aside from Bruce Jenner, why aren’t we howling over male celebrities who have had work done–or haven’t had it done?

The shame of it is, Renee Zellweger is a fine actress who has a new movie coming out next year and is in pre-production on another. Rather than wonder about whether she had work done or not, we should be celebrating her return to the screen (first film since 2010). And the question we should be asking is, why is it so hard for women in their 40s to get good roles in Hollywood?

That’s all I’ve got to say about that–what say you? Thanks for reading, and have a nice weekend!

8 Responses

  1. That's why the nature of roles can and should change as people get older. Look what a great job Maggie Smith has done since she got too old to play leading lady roles. Harrison Ford hung on a little too long. I just wish he'd choose something besides grumpy old men now.

  2. I don't think it's women in their 40s that aren't getting good roles. I think it's women in their 40s that still want to play a woman in their 30s! Cher said at the concert we attended, her best roles were the ones she had in her 40s. If they embrace their age, I'm sure the parts will appear.

  3. I couldn't believe how different Renee Zellweger looked. Definitely a 'double-glance' moment. And speaking of people aging, check out Billy Boyd who played Pipin in the Lord of the Rings? I saw him at London Comic Con this past weekend. Not what I expected, but not a bad thing either…and you're right. They're people just like us who age like us too. And I agree with Stacy above. If you embrace your age the parts will come 🙂

  4. So funny! Honestly, it's so easy to have work done, and for actors, their looks are very important – it's their "brand." I'm always surprised when I see celebrities aging badly and obviously *not* having work done, like Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow (in fact half of the "Friends" cast aged badly – but maybe they have enough money and don't need to work ever again…) But then there are miracle ones like Alyson Hannigan and Emily Deschanel who still look great. Very interesting topic! 🙂

  5. David's looking good and everyone ages in some way. So far I seem to be aging okay. But I'm twenty-nine so maybe I'll see how that works in another twenty years. Yeah I think Renee had some form of surgery but I wish her all the best.

  6. Women usually get scrutinized more harshly than men in the media when things don't look "perfect", so I appreciate your point here. We are such a youth and beauty obsessed nation.

  7. Well, it's quite possible that within a couple of decades that we'll be able to "reset" our ages. Seriously. They've already accomplished it in certain worms.

  8. -Donna–I remember an interview with Meryl Streep from a couple of years ago–she said right after she turned 40, she got offered three different roles to play 3 different witches. I do think things are getting better (Ms. Streep turned 40 twenty-five years ago, but I think even a lot of the roles that should go to women in the 35-45 range still go to 'young beauties'.

    -Stacy–see above. I'll also add I think they're forced to compete with younger actresses because there just aren't that many roles out there for women.

    -DRC–one of the problems is that we view these people in those frozen moments. My wife and I just started watching The Sopranos last year, so that first shot of Sirico is from 10+ years ago–and what has he been in since then? Same with Billy Boyd–the enduring image we have of him is from a movie that's 11 years old. I think that's part of the issue with Ms. Zellweger; we're basing what we think she should look like on something like Jerry McGuire or Bridget Jones.

    -Lexa–A friend of mine made the 'brand' argument about Ms. Zellweger on Facebook. I'm not sure I agree. The face and the look may be part of what draws attention to them in the first place, but it's the substance that keeps them at the top. I think there are very few actors or actresses whose face is truly their brand. I'm willing to be proven wrong.

    -Sheena-kay: men can generally get away with aging much more in Hollywood than women. Sad, but true. I hope you continue to age well!

    -L.G:That they do. There was a very good article about this in The Guardian the other day:

    -Andrew–between that and 3-D printing replacement body parts, I'm going to live forever!

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