Magazine article Variety

Seniors Grab Center Stage

Magazine article Variety

Seniors Grab Center Stage

Article excerpt

Don't accuse Billy Connolly of having a senior moment when talking about "Quartet."

"But I was the youngest one on the set, and I'm almost 70!," he protests. "I was the baby!"

The movie about a home for retired opera singers, which also stars Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, was directed by Dustin Hoffman and written by Oscar winner Ronald Harwood. It is one of a series of movies featuring actors eligible for their AARP cards this year.

Filmgoers have seen older thesps reclaim a fading career (Clint Eastwood in "Trouble With the Curve"); concoct and execute a hostage rescue scheme (Alan Arkin and John Goodman in "Argo"); and retrieve five tons of weapons-grade plutonium (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris in "The Expendables 2"). "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" also centers on retirees (personified by Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Smith), while Michael Haneke's "Amour" stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as an octogenarian caring for his ailing wife (Emmanuelle Riva).

Harwood can remember a time when a film like "Quartet" would not have gotten the green light.

"They'd say, 'Nobody wants to see films about old people,'" he recalls. "And now it seems to be changing."

Where once they were relegated to cameo roles, now older thesps are moving back to center stage, he notes with approval.

"Old age can be talked about," stresses Harwood, who won an Oscar for "The Pianist" and just turned 78. "It's not a subject that's forbidden. We all get old, we've all got to face it, and it's now acceptable. …

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