Actors With the Longest Careers

January 24, 2019 by array

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One of the most popular movies in theaters right now is “Mary Poppins Returns” — a follow-up to the classic musical “Mary Poppins” from 1964. Among the sequel’s cast of rather youthful actors — including Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda — are some familiar, older faces, namely nonagenarians Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury. And while Julie Andrews, the original Mary Poppins, is absent this time around, she continues to act, most recently voicing the role of Karathen in Marvel’s “Aquaman.”

Van Dyke, Lansbury, and Andrews have had long and successful film careers. And they’re not the only ones. The movies are filled with performers who have been active in their craft for 40, 50, and even 60 years. While not all of them have necessarily reached similar fame as Lansbury or Andrews have, they’ve all managed to remain working in the film industry for decades.

24/7 Wall St. has identified the actors with the longest careers. These are the actors with at least 65 years in the business — from their cinematic debuts (sometimes in their infancy or childhood) to their most recent movies.

Some of the actors on the list got an early start in movies as child actors. Jeff Bridges, Patty McCormack, and Dean Stockwell were all “in the business” before reaching 10 years of age.

Others, such as 104 year-old Norman Lloyd, have had long careers thanks largely to their advanced ages. As these entertainers have stuck with it, they’ve amassed many years of acting.

Click here to see the actors with the longest careers.
Click here to see our methodology.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Tim Matheson as 3rd for longest acting career. His earliest movie was in fact 1985’s Fantasia, not 1940’s Fantasia. He has been removed from the list. In addition, we replaced for 8 actors (Terence Hill, John Saxon, Patty McCormack, Piper Laurie, James Fox, Dean Stockwell, Karolyn Grimes, and Leslie Phillips) the name of the earliest film to a film that was released earlier that same year.

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41. Harry Belafonte
> Age: 91
> Film credits: 14
> Most recent movie: “BlacKkKlansman” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Bright Road” (1953)

Calypso singer and activist Harry Belafonte appeared in the Spike Lee-directed “BlacKkKlansman” last year. Belafonte’s long cinematic career includes successes like “Carmen Jones” in 1954 and “Island in the Sun” in 1957.

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40. Peter Strauss
> Age: 71
> Film credits: 15
> Most recent movie: “Operation Finale” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “White Mane” (1953)

Peter Strauss might be better known for his television work in TV films such as “Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy” (1977) and “Joan of Arc” (2005). However, his considerable movie credits include last year’s “Operation Finale,” “Soldier Blue” (1970), “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine” (1972), and “The Last Tycoon” (1976).

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39. Honor Blackman
> Age: 93
> Film credits: 44
> Most recent movie: “Cockneys vs Zombies” (2012)
> Earliest movie: “Fame Is the Spur” (1947)

Fans of 1960s-era James Bond movies will remember the alluring Honor Blackman as the doomed character Pussy Galore in the film “Goldfinger” in 1964. That was one of several characters she played who met an unfortunate end. In her film debut in “Fame Is the Spur” in 1947, Blackman played a character who died from a horse-riding accident.

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38. Gina Lollobrigida
> Age: 91
> Film credits: 58
> Most recent movie: “Box Office 3D: Il film dei film” (2011)
> Earliest movie: “Return of the Black Eagle” (1946)

Gina Lollobrigida, cinematic sex symbol from Italy, starred in many hits in the 1950s and ’60s with some of the biggest stars of the day, including “Come September” (1961) with Rock Hudson, “Trapeze” (1956) with Burt Lancaster, and “Solomon and Sheba” (1959) with Yul Brynner.

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37. Terence Hill
> Age: 79
> Film credits: 71
> Most recent movie: “My Name Is Thomas” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Il viale della speranza” (1953)

Terence Hill, born as Mario Girotti, started his career as a child actor in Europe. He was a mainstay of so-called “Spaghetti Westerns” in the 1960s and ’70s. Among his more notable films were “Lo chiamavano Trinità” (“They Call Me Trinity”) in 1970 and “Il mio nome è Nessuno” (“My Name Is Nobody”) in 1973.

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36. Joss Ackland
> Age: 90
> Film credits: 77
> Most recent movie: “The Portrait” (2014)
> Earliest movie: “Landfall” (1949)

Ninety-year-old English actor Joss Ackland has amassed 196 film and television credits so far. He may have reached the pinnacle of his career in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was around that time that Ackland had prominent roles in action films “Lethal Weapon 2” (1989) and “The Hunt for Red October” (1990).

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35. John Saxon
> Age: 83
> Film credits: 104
> Most recent movie: “After the Thunderstorm” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “It Should Happen to You” (1954)

John Saxon, born Carmine Orrico, is a recognizable and durable actor who has appeared in about 200 roles in film and television. One of his first appearances was an uncredited role in “A Star is Born” in 1954, starring Judy Garland.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

34. James Hong
> Age: 89
> Film credits: 121
> Most recent movie: “Patsy Lee & The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “Dragonfly Squadron” (1954)

American actor James Hong has been highly prolific in his work since the 1950s. In the later years of that decade, he found success with a recurring role in the television series “The New Adventures of Charlie Chan.” Today, he is perhaps best known for his roles in films such as “Chinatown” (1974), “Blade Runner” (1982), and “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986).

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33. Pat Carroll
> Age: 91
> Film credits: 16
> Most recent movie: “BFFs” (2014)
> Earliest movie: “Hometown Girl” (1948)

Comedian Pat Carroll’s chatty persona kept her quite busy on television starting in the 1950s, with roles on many situation comedies. In movies, she’s voiced many animated characters, including the nefarious Ursula in “The Little Mermaid” in 1989.

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32. Nancy Olson
> Age: 90
> Film credits: 19
> Most recent movie: “Dumbbells” (2014)
> Earliest movie: “Portrait of Jennie” (1948)

Nancy Olson appeared frequently on television drama series starting in the 1950s (“Alfred Hitchcock Presents”) through 2010 (“Big Love”). Among her big-screen credits is “Sunset Boulevard” in 1950, Billy Wilder’s sardonic look at Hollywood.

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31. Jane Asher
> Age: 72
> Film credits: 27
> Most recent movie: “An American in Paris: The Musical” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Crash of Silence” (1952)

Jane Asher, an English actress who was engaged to Paul McCartney, began her career as a child actress in the movie “Crash of Silence” in 1952. Among her film credits is “Alfie,” a 1966 movie that starred Michael Caine.

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30. Marion Ross
> Age: 90
> Film credits: 28
> Most recent movie: “Senior Entourage” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “Forever Female” (1953)

TV viewers will remember Marion Ross as the unfailingly upbeat mom on the sitcom “Happy Days.” Most of her career has been spent on television. Among her movie appearances is an uncredited role in 1958’s “Some Came Running” starring Frank Sinatra.

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29. George Hamilton
> Age: 79
> Film credits: 52
> Most recent movie: “Swiped” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Lone Star” (1952)

George Hamilton, chided by comedians and talk show hosts for his perpetual tan, parlayed his idle-rich image into roles as a playboy in “Angel Baby” (1960), and in youth romps “Where the Boys Are” (1960) and “Looking for Love” (1964).

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

28. Stuart Wilson
> Age: 72
> Film credits: 26
> Most recent movie: “Marauders” (2016)
> Earliest movie: “Undertow” (1949)

English actor Stuart Wilson learned his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Many American moviegoers got their first taste of Wilson as villain Jack Travis in “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992). He played another heinous character in “The Mark of Zorro” six years later alongside Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

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27. Joyce Van Patten
> Age: 84
> Film credits: 28
> Most recent movie: “Diane” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Fourteen Hours” (1951)

Joyce Van Patten was a mainstay on television series starting in the 1950s, including soap operas such as “As The World Turns,” sitcoms like “The Mary Tyler Moore Hour,” and dramas such as “The Good Wife.” Her motion picture work includes “Fourteen Hours” in 1951 and the counterculture comedy “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!” in 1968.

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26. Patty McCormack
> Age: 73
> Film credits: 34
> Most recent movie: “Barking Mad” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Two Gals and a Guy” (1951)

Patty McCormack, born Patricia Ellen Russo, might be best known as the malevolent child in the 1956 film “The Bad Seed,” for which she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar. She played Richard Nixon’s wife Pat in “Frost/Nixon” in 2008. TV viewers will recognize her work in the series “The Sopranos” during the early 2000s.

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25. Tippi Hedren
> Age: 88
> Film credits: 36
> Most recent movie: “The Ghost and The Whale” (2017)
> Earliest movie: “The Petty Girl” (1950)

Tippi Hedren, mother of actress Melanie Griffith and an animal rights advocate, was the prototypical “icy blonde” of Alfred Hitchcock movies in the 1950s and ’60s. Her most famous role was of a terrorized woman in “The Birds” in 1963. She also starred in Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964) and in Charlie Chaplin’s “A Countess from Hong Kong” (1967).

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24. Russ Tamblyn
> Age: 84
> Film credits: 63
> Most recent movie: “Chatty Catties” (2015)
> Earliest movie: “The Boy with Green Hair” (1948)

The athletic Russ Tamblyn will forever be remembered as the hot-tempered gang member Riff in the musical “West Side Story” (1961). He also distinguished himself with his dancing prowess in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954).

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23. Robert Wagner
> Age: 88
> Film credits: 67
> Most recent movie: “What Happened to Monday” (2017)
> Earliest movie: “The Happy Years” (1950)

Robert Wagner’s career includes sprawling epics like “The Longest Day” (1962), disaster flicks like “The Towering Inferno” (1974), and comedies like “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002). He also was a durable performer on television series such as “Hart to Hart” and “NCIS.”

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22. Jeff Bridges
> Age: 69
> Film credits: 73
> Most recent movie: “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “The Company She Keeps” (1951)

Jeff Bridges began his storied career in motion pictures as an infant on a train in “The Company She Keeps” in 1951. He won a best actor Oscar in 2010 for his role in “Crazy Heart” and has been nominated for an Academy Award six other times, including for roles in “The Last Picture Show” (1971), “True Grit” (2010), and “Hell or High Water” (2016).

Source: Agência Brasil / Wikimedia Commons

21. Geraldine Chaplin
> Age: 74
> Film credits: 119
> Most recent movie: “Los Rodríguez y el más allá” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “Limelight” (1952)

Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin and granddaughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, first appeared in an uncredited role in her father’s film “Limelight” in 1952. Other screen credits include “Doctor Zhivago” (1965), “The Three Musketeers” (1973), and “The Age of Innocence” (1993).

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20. Piper Laurie
> Age: 86
> Film credits: 48
> Most recent movie: “White Boy Rick” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Louisa” (1950)

Piper Laurie has been nominated three times for an Oscar (“The Hustler,” “Carrie,” and “Children of a Lesser God”). She left the movie industry after making “The Hustler” in 1961 to support the civil rights movement and oppose the Vietnam War. She returned to film in 1976 to make “Carrie” and received her third Oscar nomination 10 years later for “Children of a Lesser God.”

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19. William Shatner
> Age: 87
> Film credits: 53
> Most recent movie: “Devil’s Revenge” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “The Butler’s Night Off” (1951)

Canadian-born William Shatner gained popularity as the courageous Captain James T. Kirk on the original TV series “Star Trek.” He would reprise that role in seven full-length Star Trek motion pictures.

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18. James Fox
> Age: 79
> Film credits: 55
> Most recent movie: “Surviving Christmas with the Relatives” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “The Miniver Story” (1950)

English actor James Fox – not to be confused with the American Jamie Foxx – was born to a theatrical family in London. Fox got his start as a child actor, working under the name William Fox. The actor’s most recent film is the British comedy “Surviving Christmas with the Relatives,” released last year.

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17. Julie Andrews
> Age: 83
> Film credits: 32
> Most recent movie: “Aquaman” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “The Singing Princess” (1949)

Oscar-winner Julie Andrews starred in some of the most beloved films of all time, including “Mary Poppins” (1964) and “The Sound of Music” (1965). Following a brief period of inactivity starting in 2010, the English actress returned with her own Netflix series — “Julie’s Greenroom” — in 2017.

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16. Max von Sydow
> Age: 89
> Film credits: 113
> Most recent movie: “Kursk” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Bara en mor” (1949)

Swedish actor Max von Sydow, with 164 total acting credits, became known to American audiences in the Ingmar Bergman-directed movies “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries,” both released in 1957. Von Sydow’s latest film, “Kursk,” was released last year.

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15. Claire Bloom
> Age: 87
> Film credits: 44
> Most recent movie: “Miss Dalí” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “The Blind Goddess” (1948)

While Claire Bloom’s first screen role was in 1948’s “The Blind Goddess,” her big break came a few years later when Charlie Chaplin cast her as Thereza in his 1952 film “Limelight.” She has found consistent work since, most recently starring in the Spanish drama “Miss Dalí,” released last year.

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14. Dean Stockwell
> Age: 82
> Film credits: 90
> Most recent movie: “Entertainment” (2015)
> Earliest movie: “The Valley of Decision” (1945)

Dean Stockwell got his start in as a child actor under contract to MGM beginning in 1945. While he pursued non-theatrical goals in the ’60s and ’70s, Stockwell made a comeback of sorts in the 1980s, starring in popular films such as “Paris, Texas” (1984), “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985), and “Blue Velvet” (1986).

Source: Michael Buckner / Getty Images

13. Beau Bridges
> Age: 77
> Film credits: 72
> Most recent movie: “Elsewhere” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “No Minor Vices” (1948)

Similar to his younger brother Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges made his onscreen debut as a child, appearing in the 1948 comedy “No Minor Vices” alongside yet another actor on this list, Norman Lloyd. Bridges has starred in numerous films since, including “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” in which he appeared with his brother.

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12. Lana Wood
> Age: 72
> Film credits: 23
> Most recent movie: “Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “Driftwood” (1947)

Lana Wood, best known for her portrayal of Plenty O’Toole in the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), got her start “acting” as an infant in 1947’s “Driftwood.” Though the younger sister of deceased actress Natalie Wood has continued acting in feature films, it was reported in 2017 that she had been evicted from her home due to her inability to pay rent.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

11. Anouk Aimée
> Age: 86
> Film credits: 72
> Most recent movie: “Les plus belles années d’une vie” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “La maison sous la mer” (1947)

French actress Anouk Aimée began working on feature films as a teenager. She would go on to star in many critically acclaimed European films, including Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” (1960) and “8½” (1963), and Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman” (1966). Her latest acting project is an upcoming film also directed by Lelouch.

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10. Giovanna Ralli
> Age: 84
> Film credits: 76
> Most recent movie: “Un ragazzo d’oro” (2014)
> Earliest movie: “La maestrina” (1942)

Giovanna Ralli, an actress and writer from Rome, starred in light Italian comedies. Among her more notable films are “The Mercenary” (1968), “Una prostituta al servizio del pubblico ed in regola con le leggi dello Stato” (1971) and “La fuga” (1965). She had a brief career in Hollywood and appeared in the Blake Edwards’ war-movie send-up “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” in 1966.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

9. Cloris Leachman
> Age: 92
> Film credits: 76
> Most recent movie: “When We Last Spoke” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “Carnegie Hall” (1947)

Before gaining television fame as the humorously self-absorbed neighbor on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Cloris Leachman had already won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for “The Last Picture Show” in 1971. Leachman also starred in Mel Brooks’ comedies spoofing horror (“Young Frankenstein,” 1974) and suspense (“High Anxiety,” 1977).

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

8. William Smith
> Age: 85
> Film credits: 136
> Most recent movie: “Island of Witches” (2014)
> Earliest movie: “The Ghost of Frankenstein” (1942)

Born in 1933, American actor William Smith first appeared onscreen as a village boy in 1942’s “The Ghost of Frankenstein.” He acted in a number of exploitation films throughout the 1970s and had a recurring role in the television series “Rich Man, Poor Man.” His most recent credit is for the low budget film “Island of Witches,” which was released in 2014.

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7. Norman Lloyd
> Age: 104
> Film credits: 31
> Most recent movie: “Trainwreck” (2015)
> Earliest movie: “Saboteur” (1942)

At 104 years of age, Norman Lloyd is the lone centenarian on the list of actors with the longest careers. While his earliest feature film credit is for 1942’s “Saboteur,” he appeared in a television movie — “The Streets of New York” — three years prior. Lloyd has worked with numerous cinematic legends over the years, including Alfred Hitchcock, Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, and Ingrid Bergman.

Source: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

6. Karolyn Grimes
> Age: 78
> Film credits: 14
> Most recent movie: “Canaan Land” (2019)
> Earliest movie: “That Night with You” (1945)

Karolyn Grimes’ earliest role was that of Stephanie Pemberton in 1945’s “Pardon My Past.” Yet she nabbed a much more memorable part as Zuzu Bailey in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which was released one year later. Although she stopped acting in the 1950s, she returned with a small part in the film “Canaan Land,” which is set to be released in the U.S. this year.

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5. Angela Lansbury
> Age: 93
> Film credits: 55
> Most recent movie: “Buttons” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Gaslight” (1944)

Angela Lansbury began her distinguished entertainment career with an Oscar-nominated performance in “Gaslight” in 1944, and she has proved to be a reliable box-office performer. Thirteen of her films have topped $100 million in domestic gross. The three-time Oscar nominee’s biggest hit was the Disney-animated film “Beauty and the Beast” (1991).

Source: Bruno Vincent / Getty Images

4. Leslie Phillips
> Age: 94
> Film credits: 84
> Most recent movie: “After Death” (2012)
> Earliest movie: “Lassie from Lancashire” (1938)

Comic actor Leslie Phillips got his start acting in small British films. He worked consistently through the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, and in the ’80s he acted in two major American films, “Out of Africa” (1985) and “Empire of the Sun” (1987). In 2011, Phillips voiced the Sorting Hat in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

3. Margaret O’Brien
> Age: 81
> Film credits: 32
> Most recent movie: “Impact Event” (2018)
> Earliest movie: “Babes on Broadway” (1941)

Next to Shirley Temple, Margaret O’Brien was the most famous child actress before the television era. She was known for her emotional performances and ability to cry instantly. Among her films are “Journey for Margaret” (1942) in which she played a war orphan in London, and “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1944, for which she won a special juvenile Academy Award. She appeared in the thriller “Impact Event” last year.

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2. June Lockhart
> Age: 93
> Film credits: 39
> Most recent movie: “The Remake” (2016)
> Earliest movie: “A Christmas Carol” (1938)

June Lockhart carved an everlasting niche as America’s favorite TV mom in series such as “Lassie” in the 1950s and “Lost in Space” in the 1960s. Before her television career, she appeared in films like “Sergeant York” in 1941 and “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1944. Her screen debut was in “A Christmas Carol” in 1938 with actor/parents Gene and Kathleen Lockhart.

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1. Terry Moore
> Age: 90
> Film credits: 67
> Most recent movie: “American Superman” (2020)
> Earliest movie: “Maryland” (1940)

Now 90 years old, American actress Terry Moore first appeared on screen in 1940 with uncredited roles in the movies “Maryland” and “The Howards of Virginia.” Moore would soon turn heads, starring in “Mighty Joe Young” (1949), and later receive an Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in “Come Back, Little Sheba” (1952). While Moore focused largely on television work from the early ’60s through the early ’90s, she has continued to appear in feature films, with her latest movie, “American Superman,” slated for a 2020 release.

Methodology

To determine the actors with the longest careers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the filmographies for the top 5,000 ranked actors aged 35 years old and over on IMDb’s STARmeter. This ranking is a weekly measure of popularity based on user behavior on the Internet Movie Database.

We determined the length of one’s career by finding the number of years that had passed between an actor’s earliest release and their most recent. Television shows were not included in this process. As movies are generally released some time after filming has been completed, some movies have 2020 release dates. In cases where actors had the same amount of time passed between their earliest and most recent movies, their overall number of movie credits were used as a tie-breaker.