Hollywood boys who just don't want to grow up

Thu May 15, 2008 11:07pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When to slow down and retire? For most people in their 60s the decision is a no-brainer -- the sooner the better. But in the rare air of movie stardom, where careers are fueled by a mix of talent, ego, vanity and, sometimes, cosmetic surgery, it seems to be a far harder decision.

Hollywood's latest example is Harrison Ford, 65, the aging archeologist hero of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which debuts around the globe next week after its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

But Ford is not alone in trying to maintain an image as a strapping young action hero. Movie icons from the 1960s and 1970s from Al Pacino to Sylvester Stallone still insist on winning the day and getting the girl -- even if she's 40 years younger. Even Robert De Niro has taken questionable roles lately, playing a cross-dressing flying pirate in "Stardust."

A few, notably Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Clint Eastwood, seem to have accepted the idea that their leading man status is now well behind them. Beatty is now a sort of elder statesman in Hollywood. Eastwood is an Oscar-winning director, and Nicholson is, well, Nicholson.

Ford is luckier than most. After a long string of dismal thrillers and dramas, the star is back in a role which, in three previous Indiana Jones movies that ending with "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 19 years ago, have generated around $1.1 billion at global box offices.

"Suddenly he's cool again and on every magazine cover in America," notes Leonard Maltin, "Entertainment Tonight's" film critic/historian. "But without that role maybe he'd be in the same boat as the others."

Moreover, early word on "Crystal Skull" is that Ford and creators Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have insisted "Indy" roughly match Ford in age. Some of the heavy lifting on the action front goes to Shia La Beouf, his 21 year-old co-star.


<p>Actors Ray Winstone (L) and Harrison Ford are shown in a scene from the new film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in this undated publicity photograph. REUTERS/David James/Paramount Pictures/Handout</p>