There are many talented women in the entertainment industry. They come from diverse backgrounds and have many different influences that have helped them rise to the top of the Hollywood tree.
Unforutanley many of these actresses are pushed aside once they reach their 40s. These incredible women who often leading ladies in their 20s and 30s are now sidelined for those up-and-coming actresses.
But as times are changing (slowly) and age is becoming less of a problem, these women are continuing to have successful careers well into their 40s. They are getting more mature roles and able to really showcase their acting talents. Many of these women are doing their best work in their 40s.
To celebrate these incredible actresses and their wonderful careers, here are 20 actresses in their 40s who are still killing it.
20 Famous Actresses in Their 40s
1. Amy Adams (47)
While yet to win one, Amy Adams has been nominated for six Academy Awards during her career thus far. The red-headed American (who was born in Italy) has crafted a wonderfully diverse career since first starring in the black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous. This led to several TV roles and a part in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. But it wasn’t until Junebug that the world took notice.
Films such as The Fighter, American Hustle, The Master, Arrival, and Vice established her as one of the best actresses in Hollywood. Despite her age, Adams has gotten better roles in her 40s and looks like continuing to be one of the best actresses in the business.
2. Kerry Washington (45)
Kerry Washington’s first claim to fame was starring alongside Julia Stiles in the film Save the Last Dance. While the 2001 movie was a hit, it didn’t exactly translate to success for Washington. She was forced to take many smaller roles and bit parts in movies such as Ray, The Last King of Scotland, and Django Unchained until she returned to television for Scandal.
The political thriller elevated Washington and brought her to the attention of the mainstream. She has since gotten the recognition she deserves. This has enabled her to branch out into producing and seen her cast in a recurring role in The Simpsons.
3. Michelle Williams (41)
Although only just hitting her 40s, Michelle Williams is deserved of a spot on this list. The A-list actress is an incredible performer who never fails to impress. She got her big break in everybody’s favorite 90s teen drama Dawson’s Creek before a stand-out role in the surprise hit film Brokeback Mountain alongside male actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal thrust her into the spotlight.
Williams often plays women who are mentally fragile or dealing with loss, something she experienced when her partner Ledger died from an accidental overdose. Films such as Blue Valentine, My Week With Marylin, Manchester by the Sea, and The Greatest Showman are some of her best.
4. Michelle Rodriguez (43)
One of the stalwarts of the Fast and Furious franchise, Michelle Rodrigues is another of the great actresses in their 40s. The tough-talking Texan got her start in the award-winning boxing drama Girlfight before being cast as Letty Ortiz in The Fast and the Furious in 2001.
Since then it’s been all go for Rodriguez, who has carved out an eclectic career in the world of movies. She has featured in seven of the nine Fast and Furious films (and will be seen in the final two) and had juicy parts in the video game adaptation Resident Evil, James Cameron blockbuster Avatar, action franchise Machete, and animated favorite Smurfs: The Lost Village.
5. Cameron Diaz (49)
Just sneaking in at 49, Cameron Diaz has had a wonderful career full of hit movies and delightful performances. While comedies The Mask and There’s Something About Mary put her on the map, it’s her later work where Diaz really shines. Vanilla Sky, Bad Teacher, Being John Malkovich, and the Shrek franchise are all tremendous films that showcase different sides of Diaz.
While she has “retired” from acting, having only made sporadic appearances in films over the past decade, Diaz remains one of the best blonde actresses in her 40s. She is expected to return to acting next year with a role in a new Jamie Foxx Netflix action-comedy.
6. Kate Winslet (46)
Kate Winslet has come a long way since appearing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. The English rose has packed a lot into her 32-year career. While she hasn’t acted as much since hitting the big 4-0, the Best Actress winner has put in some incredible performances.
Mare of Easttown deserves special mention. This drama about a single cop trying to juggle her family with a murder investigation was a smash hit and a great reminder of how talented Winslet is.
7. Zoe Saldana (44)
Imagine starring alongside Britney Spears (when she was arguably at her peak) in your first movie? That’s exactly what Zoe Saldana experienced at the age of 24. Although Crossroads is a terrible movie savaged by critics, it got Saldana noticed and helped her score a role in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Since then Saldana has continued to work consistently and is best known for playing Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and Neytiri in Avatar. Blessed with great genes, Saldana looks about ten years younger than she is and is sure to be enjoying success in the movie industry for many years to come.
8. Reece Witherspoon (46)
It feels like Reece Witherspoon has been on our screens for an eternity. This is kinda true, as she’s been acting for over three decades. Scoring her first role at the age of 15 in the drama The Man in the Moon, it wasn’t until Curel Intentions in 1999 that Witherspoon’s star quality emerged. The Legally Blonde films followed before Walk the Line, Wild, and Inherent Vice really established her credentials.
Recently Witherspoon has turned her attention to producing while also playing one of the leads in the highly praised drama series The Morning Show. She has also been praised for her role in the drama Big Little Lies alongside Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kravitz.
9. Mindy Kaling (43)
Best known for playing Kelly Kapoor in the American version of The Office, Mindy Kaling is now one of the leading writers in Hollywood. As well as writing and starring in her own series, The Mindy Project, Kaling is responsible for creating the Netflix comedy-drama series Never Have I Ever and the HBO Max comedy-drama series The Sex Lives of College Girls.
She has also produced a number of projects and done a lot of voice acting, all while juggling two children as a single mother. Oh yeah, she’s also written two books. Superstar!
10. Drew Barrymore (47)
In the midst of a career resurgence thanks to her talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show, Drew Barrymore is a household name that’s been in the acting game for decades. The childhood actress who starred in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial had a troubled background growing up but managed to put that behind her and become a massive star.
She was everywhere in the 90s and early part of the 00s, with some of her best roles coming in the films Boys on the Side, Scream, The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, Riding in Cars With Boys, and the Charle’s Angels flicks alongside Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu.
She’s been less active in movies of late, instead, focusing on her talk show and starring in the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, which lasted three seasons.
11. Natalie Portman (41)
Natalie Portman began acting at the tender age of 12, with her first role coming in the critically acclaimed Léon: The Professional. She has been on screen for close to three decades. Audiences have seen her grow from playing Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequels to Jane Foster in the Thor films. She’s an absolute superstar with a hefty filmography who is also well known for her activism work.
12. Charlize Theron (46)
When it comes to the highest-paid women actresses, look no further than Charlize Theron. The South African-born talent has been a leading lady for over two decades. Movies such as The Cider House Rules, Monster, The Italian Job, Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, and the Fast and Furious franchise have been celebrated by critics and fans alike.
An Academy Award winner (Best Actress for Monster), Theron has done it all in her career, although of late action films have been her forte. She is one of the most successful blonde actresses in the world.
13. Sofia Vergara (49)
The Modern Family star was the highest-paid actress on television between 2013 to 2020, which is mighty impressive. The former model got her start on the Spanish-language television network Univision before graduating to the big screen with a number of small roles.
Sofia Vergara hit paydirt when cast as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in the American sitcom Modern Family. Since the show ended in 2020 she’s been one of the judges on America’s Got Talent and will be next seen in the upcoming Netflix series Griselda, about Colombian drug baron Griselda Blanco.
14. Jessica Alba (41)
Despite almost three decades in the entertainment business, Jessica Alba hasn’t appeared in as many movies or TV shows as you might think. The Californian is happy to split her time between work and family, looking after her three children.
Often called a sex symbol and topping the list of many “Hottest Women in the World” lists, Alba has no time for these accolades. She wants to be judged on her talent, not her looks. If you’ve seen her on-screen, then you can agree that Alba is talented. Some of her best performances can be viewed in the series Dark Angel, the movies Honey and Sin City, and the Machete franchise. Into the Blue is also worth a watch.
15. Gabrielle Union (49)
Gabrielle Union spent the 90s popping up in various TV series as she tried to break into Hollywood. Her most notable performance was on 7th Heaven. Small roles in She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You helped her secure a part in Bring It On, finally opening the door for Union.
Union has been working consistently over the past two decades, appearing in the likes of Bad Boys II, Girls Trip, and as a judge on season 14 of America’s Got Talent. Married to basketball star Dwyane Wade, Union is living the dream and defying her age as one of the hardest workers in the entertainment industry.
16. Angelina Jolie (47)
When you think of actresses who dominated the early 00s, Angelina Jolie comes to mind. The gorgeous daughter of Jon Voight hit the big time after winning an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as sociopath Lisa Rowe in Girl, Interrupted.
The new it girl, Jolie’s star rose as she starred in a wide range of different films, including the action series Tomb Raider, erotic thriller Original Sin, animated feature Shark Tale, action hit Salt, and action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith with former husband Brad Pitt.
While still active, Jolie has cut down her schedule greatly this past decade, spending more time with her six children. She also dedicates lots of time to charity work and is big on conservation, education, and human rights.
17. Zooey Deschanel (42)
Zooey Deschanel is a double threat. She can act and sing and has made a career out of both. She had small roles in several films during the early 00s before the comedy Elf became a huge success and got her name in lights. She’s worked steadily over the past two decades in both film and TV, starring in the romantic indie 500 Days of Summer and hit comedy New Girl for seven seasons.
Deschanel is also a musician, performing with M. Ward under the name She & Him. Together they have released six studio albums while Deschanel has also performed with other artists and contributed songs to various movies she has been involved in.
18. Jessica Chastain (45)
Keeping her private life under wraps adds a bit of mystique to Jessica Chastain. What we do know is that she lives in New York, has two kids, and is one of the most talented actresses in the world. She has been in more critically acclaimed films that you can point a stick at. Chastain has won an Oscar (Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye), a BAFTA (Best Supporting Actress for The Help), and a Golden Globe Award (Best Actress for Zero Dark Thirty). Incredible.
She’s also an investor in the soccer club Angel City FC which plays in the National Women’s Soccer League and has a big passion for women’s rights and feminist issues.
19. Natalie Dormer (40)
English actresses Natalie Dormer first came to prominence after starring in The Tudors as the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. This was soon followed by her role as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, leading to Dormer being cast in the explosive final two Hunger Games movies.
While her filmography is still rather small (she’s only been acting for 15 years), Dormer is one of the most exciting actresses to hit her 40s. Her best work has been on the small screen, with her recent roles in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels and Picnic at Hanging Rock well received.
20. Rosario Dawson (43)
Discovered by photographer Larry Clark and filmmaker Harmony Korine while hanging out on her doorstep in 1995, Rosario Dawson has come a long. Thrust into the fire in Clark’s controversial hit Kids, Dawson is another American actress whose career covers everything from indie hits to action blockbusters.
Some of the self-confessed Trekkie’s best roles have come in movies such as He Got Game, 25th Hour, Sin City, Death Proof, and Unforgettable with Katherine Heigl. Dawson has also been the voice of Wonder Woman in seven animated features and cameoed in several Marvel TV series as Claire Temple.
Currently, one of the hosts of the Go-Big Show and set to be the lead in the Star Wars series Ahsoka, the New York-born Dawson continues to thrive and is cementing her position as one of the great actresses in their 40s.