Old But Awesome: Our 15 Favorite Seniors in Hollywood

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In the new action blow-out "Red," which stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous," a group of ex-CIA agents led by Bruce Willis are hunted by high-tech assassins.

Two of those agents are played by Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, stars gleefully playing against their age as gun-toting badasses (also see Dames With Guns).

With this in mind, we thought long and hard about some of the best elderly actors out there still scoring big roles and monster acclaim. Here are our nine very favorite old-timers in Hollywood.

Clint Eastwood

Who would have thought when he was shootin' 'em up in Sergio Leone's 1960s spaghetti westerns that Clint Eastwood would one day become Orson Welles? That's just what happened when he got behind the camera, and after 30-plus pictures he's one of our most cherished actor/directors, particularly for his 1992 revisionist Western masterpiece "Unforgiven." He's managed to transcend his Dirty Harry action image with sensitive character pieces like "Mystic River," yet still get youngsters off his lawn (with a gun) at age 80 in "Gran Torino."

Judi Dench

A stage and screen legend, the Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar for 1998's "Shakespeare in Love." What other actress has appeared in everything from "Jane Eyre" to James Bond, and shared the screen with both Elizabeth Bennet and Vin Diesel? Not many. This 75-year-old has got some pipes too, as she proved when she sang with Daniel Day-Lewis in "Nine."

Morgan Freeman

Beginning his career on "The Electric Company" playing Vincent the Vegetable Vampire, Freeman finally broke out into stardom at the ripe young age of 52 opposite über-geezer Jessica Tandy in 1989's "Driving Miss Daisy" (and in the same year's "Glory"). Since then he's forged many memorable roles in "Unforgiven," "Se7en," and "Wanted." But Frank Darabont's prison film "The Shawshank Redemption" is unquestionably 73-year-old Freeman's most indelible role, and though the drama has many shining moments, Red's final bow before the parole board is the topper.

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Michael Caine

Although he's admittedly made some regrettable choices in his time (eh-hem, "Jaws 4"), Mr. Caine has more than made up for his misgivings with brilliant turns in "Get Carter," "Hannah and Her Sisters" (Oscar, cha-ching), "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "The Cider House Rules" (cha-ching again), and more recently working overtime as Bruce Wayne's rather helpful butler in the Chris Nolan "Batman" movies.

Christopher Lee

A horror icon since playing Dracula for Hammer Studios, Lee's career reached its zenith in the last decade in which the 88-year-old has featured in some of Hollywood's most blockbust-ery blockbusters like the "Star Wars" prequels, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and as the evil wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. As the only person involved in the production who actually met J.R.R. Tolkein, Lee was invaluable on the set, and his British Intelligence experience during WWII gave him knowledge like what it really sounds like when you stab someone in the back, which apparently he did to a Nazi. Badass!

Helen Mirren

Mirren, still jaw-droppingly stunning at age 65, puts other potential "World's Hottest GILF" titleholders like Susan Sarandon to shame. She's got an Oscar for "The Queen" under her belt, an Academy Award-winning director husband in Taylor Hackford, and is taking the plum John Gielgud part as Hobson in Russell Brand's "Arthur" remake. Also, did we mention she can handle a machine gun?

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Jack Nicholson

The Joker is wild for Jack, who is the most legendary living legend who ever lived. With three Oscars under his belt (and nine nominations), the man has nothing to prove, but that hasn't stopped him from making some of the best pictures of his career in the last decade, including "About Schmidt" and Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," in which he played psychotic mob boss Frank Costello. The 73-year-old will reunite once again with director James L. Brooks in December's "How Do You Know." He can also be seen on the small screen at every home Lakers game.

Peter O'Toole

It took a legend to play a legend, and that's just what the world got when O'Toole personified British Army hero T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's epic "Lawrence of Arabia." While that is the role he'll forever be synonymous with, O'Toole continues to earn raves even at age 78. After having already taken home an Honorary Oscar in 2003, he was nominated for an actual Oscar three years later for his lead role in "Venus" as an aging actor (on-the-nose much?) who falls for a young girl played by Jodie Whittaker.

Ian McKellan

After making a name for himself as a Shakespearian actor on the British stage, 71-year-old Sir Ian became a nerd icon for his roles in two trilogies: as the villainous, human-hating Magneto in "X-Men" and the heroic (and occasionally high) wizard Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings." He is scheduled to reprise the trippy wizard when "The Hobbit" finally starts shooting next year.

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Shirley MacLaine

Having started her career for Alfred-frickin'-Hitchcock in 1955's "The Trouble With Harry," and starred in 1960's Best Picture winner "The Apartment," MacLaine seems to have been around since time began. However, the New Age Spiritualist hasn't had time to be reincarnated yet, as she's only 76 years young. After taking home the Oscar for her feisty part as Aurora Greenway in 1983's "Terms of Endearment," Warren Beatty's sister has continued to dazzle, and will be seen next year opposite Jack Black in "Bernie."

Woody Allen

While he hasn't acted in one of his own films since 2006's "Scoop," the comedy giant is still directing his de rigueur one-movie per-year. Probably a smart idea, as the age disparity between him and his sexy young leading ladies was getting a little out of control at age 74. Sometimes we forget what a deft comedic actor he can be, though, as demonstrated in this completely NSFW scene from "Deconstructing Harry" with Billy Crystal as Satan.

Maggie Smith

Also a fixture on the London stage, 75-year-old Miss Smith won an Academy Award in 1969 for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." She's known to this generation for her parts in "Sister Act," as an elderly Wendy in the Peter Pan-inspired "Hook," and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in all the "Harry Potter" films.

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Christopher Plummer

Still remembered fondly as Captain von Trapp in the blockbuster "The Sound of Music," Plummer has managed a stellar array of supporting roles in the last decade, including "The Insider," "Syriana," "The Last Station," and David Fincher's upcoming blockbuster "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Last year, at age 80, he got a rare lead-role in Terry Gilliam's mindbender "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" wherein his head turned into a giant balloon, his daughter was stolen by Tom Waits' devil incarnate, and he shared the screen with the late Heath Ledger.

Alan Arkin

One of the first members of the famed Chicago comedy institution Second City, this 76-year-old got his big break in "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" in 1966. He was a memorable Grumpy Gus in the original "In-Laws," as well as in his Academy-Award-Winning turn playing the heroin-addicted grandpa in "Little Miss Sunshine."

Betty White

From her early days in radio (yes, radio) in the '40s to hosting game shows in the '50s and '60s, to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the '70s, to "The Golden Girls" in the '80s, Betty White has had more careers than you have fingers and toes. At 88, she's become the celebrity of the year for the whirlwind campaign to have her host "SNL," a new TV show "Hot in Cleveland," and even some movie limelight opposite Kristen Bell in "You Again."

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