Whether it’s Alan Arkin getting laughs (and an Oscar) for playing a heroin-addicted nursing home lothario in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE or Jane Fonda playing a pot dealing New Age grandma in PEACE LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING, audiences love energetic senior citizens. Hollywood writers bring a vibrancy to older characters that amateur writers tend to overlook. Amateur writers write authentic old people–and that’s boring. Check out this deleted suggestion from THE STARTER SCREENPLAY.


Actors HATE playing grandparents. Some stars flat out refuse to do it, even when its age appropriate. When writing an older central character of either gender, keep them as young as the story will allow.

From HAROLD AND MAUDE to COCOON, senior citizens are often portrayed as wild and crazy without regard to consequence. Their mission is to teach younger people how to live with vitality and purpose.

  • In LAST CHANCE HARVEY, Dustin Hoffman (71) is fired from his job after learning his daughter wants the stepfather to walk her down the aisle. The film is an exploration of the indignities faced when getting older, but it also features him romancing the much younger Emma Thompson.
  • And notice in MEET THE FOCKERS, Robert DeNiro has one grandchild still too young to form sentences.

Forget about the actors—Older moviegoers still want to be portrayed as people who experience adventure and romance! Just because someone has grandchildren doesn’t mean they aren’t getting laid or aren’t trying. THE BOYNTON BEACH CLUB was a huge independent hit and THE GOLDEN GIRLS still plays four hours per day on Lifetime. Those ladies get more action than most college students I know!


THE STARTER SCREENPLAY is now available worldwide on Amazon in print and for Kindle: amzn.to/TJnK4S