Mark Hamill on Carrie Fisher: ‘Gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny’

Actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher pose at the dinner during the 33rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas in 2005.
Image: Getty Images

There has been an outpouring of poignant tributes for Carrie Fisher, but none more touching than that of her intergalactic twin.

Mark Hamill, who played Princess’ Leia twin brother Luke Skywalker, farewelled Fisher in a Facebook post after the writer and actress died aged 60 in Los Angeles Tuesday.

“It’s never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family, but this is downright heartbreaking,” he wrote.

“She was OUR Princess, damn it, and the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent & ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away.”

Paying tribute to her toughness but also her vulnerability, Hamill said his life “would have been far emptier without her.”

Hamill remembered the laughter he’d shared with Fisher, and that’s surely how she’d want to be remembered.

Rebellious and quipping to the end, she knew how to go: “Drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

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What I learned reading a book about every chairperson

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump points toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.
Image: Joe Raedle/Pool via AP

Editor’s note: This is the 44th and final! entry in the writer’s project to read one book about each of the U.S. Presidents in the year prior to Election Day 2016. Follow Marcus’ progress at the @44in52 Twitter account and the 44 in 52 Spreadsheet.

Well, here we are, finally, at the end of the project.

And what a time to end it. An unprecedented election came to a stunning close on November 8, 2016 as Donald Trump shocked everyone including himself by defeating Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

It’s fitting that the final book for this project revisits other incredible turning points from previous elections. John Dickerson’s Whistlestop (based on his popular Slate podcast) unspools wild tales from the presidential campaign trail throughout history, many with threads that brought the 2016 campaign to mind.

Take the career of James Callender, a nefarious mudslinger of the worst sort who was employed (on the down-low) as an attack dog by Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 election. Callender called President John Adams a “hermaphrodidical character.”

That was just a small slice of the rhetoric Callender used against his enemies (including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton). Some of his language (“vile” and “depraved”) definitely resonate after an election in which “nasty” and “deplorable” were dominant adjectives.

Then there was the time private messages between a candidate and business associates turned into an investigation that blew a presidential campaign wide open. This wasn’t emails and Wikileaks, but a series of letters written by James G. Blaine showing how he’d used his power as House Speaker to benefit railroads he’d invested in.

The letters became the centerpiece of a corruption investigation in 1876. Blaine was able to wiggle his way out of trouble, but he would lose that year’s Republican nomination to Rutherford B. Hayes. The letters would haunt him again in 1884, when Blaine won the nomination but ultimately lost to Grover Cleveland (in spite of the scandalous fact that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock).

Dickerson, whom you may recognize from CBS’ Face The Nation and his excellent job hosting GOP and Democratic primary debates, is able to relate history in a conversational tone. There’s none of the dryness that plagued me plenty of times during this project, especially when reading about some of our early, mid-tier presidents (Martin Van Boring, anyone?).

Bonus points for being a book that, spun out of a podcast, works quite well as an audiobook, too.

But through all the stories, asides, and jokes, Whistlestop never loses sight of the overall theme: presidential campaigns are a dirty, unpredictable business.

What we witnessed in 2016 was a nadir of sorts but it’s far from the only election where things got crazy on the stump.

And then we came to the end. What a ride.

There were times where I really didn’t think I’d make it, most notably when it took me damn near a month to get through the Grant bio. Then there were times I was able to burn through books so quickly, I read two for Teddy Roosevelt.

There are plenty of presidential biography lists I could make after this project like my favorites (Adams, T. Roosevelt), the most surprising (Polk, Truman, T. Roosevelt), or the worst (Hoover, Buchanan).

And there were plenty of unbelievable quotes from salty presidents and reporters alike.

But far more lasting to me will be the overall arc of this journey, seeing the bigger picture in how each man (still no women, huh?) shaped the office, and how the office in turn shaped the country.

I began the project familiar with the story of the Founding Fathers hammering the nation into being, but gained a more detailed awareness of how America found its way to Civil War with presidents like Zachary Taylor, John Tyler and Polk setting the stage for what finally happened under Buchanan and Lincoln.

I saw how jolting the transitions could be sometimes going from Lincoln to Andrew Johnson, say, or Clinton to Bush.

And, yet, the Republic survived.

Most surprising, though: I’m ready to keep going. It reminds me of when I ran my first marathon 12 years ago as part of a huge change in lifestyle. I swore there was no way I would ever run another.

Two months later, I was already signed up for my second.

Right now, even as I’m happily taking a break to catch up on a stack of unread non-presidential books, I’m already planning what president I’ll revisit. Maybe I’ll pick up Caro’s much-praised LBJ series, or maybe Jon Meacham’s Andrew Jackson book or … the list goes on.

And it keeps growing.

The Twitter handle @44in52 will live on, too. The greatest thing about the project has been the feedback from fellow enthusiasts from different backgrounds, and the conversations that ensued.

The partisan fire so present on Twitter this election cycle has been absent; it’s been a great back-and-forth about history’s assessment of the presidents and how it changes over time. (Feel free to join in!)

It hasn’t always been easy or fun. But I’m glad I did it in the midst of an unprecedented 2016 race, putting the rhetoric and the power of the office in perspective. And I finished within a week of the deadline! Not too shabby.

Next up will be a spin through movies and documentaries about the presidents, from the numerous films available from PBS to the film version of the musical 1776 because, well, why not?

In short, this really isn’t the end it’s more of a transition.

Days to read Washington: 16
Days to read Adams: 11
Days to read Jefferson: 10
Days to read Madison: 13
Days to read Monroe: 6
Days to read J. Q. Adams: 10
Days to read Jackson: 11
Days to read Van Buren: 9
Days to read Harrison: 6
Days to read Tyler: 3
Days to read Polk: 8
Days to read Taylor: 8
Days to read Fillmore: 14
Days to read Pierce: 1
Days to read Buchanan: 1
Days to read Lincoln: 12
Days to read Johnson: 8
Days to read Grant: 27
Days to read Hayes: 1
Days to read Garfield: 3
Days to read Arthur: 17
Days to hear Cleveland: 3
Days to read Harrison: 4
Days to read McKinley: 5
Days to read T. Roosevelt: 15
Days to read Taft: 13
Days to read Wilson: 10
Days to read Harding: 3
Days to read Coolidge: 7
Days to read Hoover: 9
Days to read FDR: 11
Days to read Truman: 14
Days to read Eisenhower: 11
Days to read JFK: 10
Days to read LBJ: 6
Days to read Nixon: 6
Days to read Ford: 4
Days to listen to Carter: 2
Days to listen to Reagan: 8
Days to read GWHB: 8
Days to read Clinton: 9
Days to read GWB: 8
Days to read Obama: 6
Days to read ‘Whistlestop’: 5

Days behind schedule: 5

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John Krasinski’s career crush is Alec Baldwin

(CNN)John Krasinski is “gunning” for Alec Baldwin’s career. No, seriously.

Krasinski is set to play Jack Ryan in an upcoming series for Amazon. Of the actors who’ve played the CIA character before, Krasinski called Baldwin’s portrayal his favorite.
“For me, particularly, there’s something always about your first,” he told CNN in an interview Thursday. “I think Alec Baldwin, when he did it in ‘The Hunt for Red October,’ for me, I just connected with that character. That was the first experience I had with it.”
    Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine and Harrison Ford have all played Tom Clancy’s popular fictional hero on screen. Krasinski acknowledged those are big names to follow.
    “It’s been played by some pretty unbelievable people,” he said. “Those are pretty heavy hitting guys.”
    Krasinski, who co-starred with Baldwin in the 2009 comedy “It’s Complicated,” said he’s particularly fond of Baldwin’s body of work.
    “I’m gunning for Alec Baldwin’s career … so Alec, I’m coming for you!”
    Before that happens, Krasinski has a film to promote. The actor stars in “The Hollars,” which hits theaters next week.

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    Carrie Fisher writes of Harrison Ford affair

    (CNN)According to Carrie Fisher there was a reason she and Harrison Ford had such chemistry in “Star Wars.”

    Almost 40 years later the actress says she and Ford had an affair on the set of the now iconic 1977 film.
      “It was so intense,” Fisher told People magazine. “It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.”
      Fisher, 60, has a new book coming out based on her diaries from that time.
      “The Princess Diarist” is billed as “Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first ‘Star Wars’ movie.”
      Fisher was 19 when she landed the breakthrough role of Princess Leia for the 1976 filming. Ford, then 33, was married to Mary Marquardt, with whom he had two children.
      The couple divorced in 1979. Harrison later married “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” screenwriter Melissa Mathison in 1983, and they divorced in 2004.
      He’s been married to actress Calista Flockhart since 2010.
      Fisher writes that she and Ford spent their first night together after a birthday party for director George Lucas.
      “I looked over at Harrison. A hero’s face — a few strands of hair fell over his noble, slightly furrowed brow,” she wrote. “How could you ask such a shining specimen of a man to be satisfied with the likes of me?”
      “I was so inexperienced, but I trusted something about him,” she added. “He was kind.”
      Naturally Fisher’s revelations have provided lots of fodder for social media.
      In March, Fisher appeared on the British talk series “The Jonathan Ross Show” and denied she and Ford had been romantic.
      She said she thought he looked like a movie star. “It wasn’t like you get a crush on that person.”
      However, Fisher said at the time that her recently found journals had more details.
      “I haven’t looked all the way through it, but I must say it seemed to be trending in that direction,” she said. “But it didn’t happen.”
      Pressed by Ross, she said she was still poring through the diaries for details.
      “It might happen, it might now happen,” Fisher said.
      Ford and Fisher reprised their roles last year in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
      CNN has reached out to Ford for comment.

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      ‘Days of Our Lives’ star Joseph Mascolo dies at 87

      (CNN)Joseph Mascolo, the actor who portrayed archvillain Stefano DiMera on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died this week at 87 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the network said.

      Mascolo passed away Wednesday, but NBCUniversal announced his death Friday.
        He joined the daytime drama in 1982 and was featured intermittently until his last appearance this year.
        “Joseph was a big ‘ol bear with a puppy dog heart. I’m so blessed to have had these many years with him. I will miss him every day,” said his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
        Mascolo had many roles in a decades-long acting career but was best known as DiMera, a villain also known as “The Phoenix” for many dramatic comebacks from supposed demise. He won three Soap Opera Digest awards for outstanding villain.
        He last appeared on the show in January, when his character apparently was shot to death. Naturally fans wondered whether “The Phoenix” would rise again, but Mascolo hinted otherwise.
        “Last spring, I had a small stroke,” he told Soap Opera Digest in January. “During my rehab, I thought this would be a good time for Stefano to leave.
        “The producers visited me and we worked out a tentative plan, and the writers beefed up the storyline to what you see on TV.”

        Remembering Mascolo

        News of his death spread on social media, and fellow co-stars and fans expressed their condolences.
        “It won’t be the same,” tweeted Thaao Penghlis, an actor who has played the characters Andre and Tony DiMera on “Days.”
        “So long Joe. I’ll miss you, yet a part of you will always be with me and for that beautiful gift I am so happy and grateful” posted James Scott, who played Stefano’s son EJ DiMera on the soap.
        Eileen Davidson, who portrayed Kristen DiMera, tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Joe Mascolo. God bless him and keep him.”
        “Just like sand through the hour glass so are the days of our lives. #JosephMascolo RIP,” posted a fan.

        Musician turned actor

        Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, Mascolo didn’t initially have acting in mind. In college he studied classical music and had dreams of becoming a conductor, according to his official website. A drama coach overhead his booming basso voice and encouraged him to explore acting.
        His acting career began when he joined an off-Broadway production of “The Threepenny Opera.”

        Becoming a daytime drama villain

        Mascolo appeared in a wide-range of television shows, including “All in the Family” and “The Gangster Chronicles,” before moving to daytime drama.
        “Days” wasn’t Mascolo’s only soap. He had a brief role on “General Hospital” in 1989 and a recurring role in “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 2001 to 2006.
        Mascolo is survived by his wife, his son, stepdaughter, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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        Nicholas Hoult will follow in David Bowie’s footsteps and play Nikolai Tesla on the big screen

        Superheroes collide, as X-Men’s Beast is joining Doctor Strange in the Weinstein Company’s energy drama .
        Image: Stefania D’Alessandro/ WireImage

        The Weinstein Company’s electricity drama The Current War received a jolt of star power on Tuesday, as Nicholas Hoult is nearing a deal to play Nikolai Tesla in the film, Mashable has confirmed.

        Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon star as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, who famously feuded over electricity in the late 1880 s.

        Edison argued for direct current( DC ), while Westinghouse supported alternative current( AC ), which had more backing at the time.

        Tesla was the famous Serbian engineer who worked for both Edison and Westinghouse. He was previously portrayed onscreen by none other than David Bowie in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige .

        Alfonso Gomez-Rejon ( Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) is directing the period cinema, which was written by Michael Mitnick.

        Hoult, who plays Beast in the X-Men franchise and recently co-starred in Mad Max: Fury Road , will soon be seen as J.D. Salinger in the indie drama Rebel in the Rye . He has also wrap the war movie Sand Castle and the action-thriller Collide .

        [ H/ T TheWrap ]

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        The season just ended and college football is already showing its festering underbelly

        Calling foul.
        Image: Austin Gay/AP

        Which is worse? The New Jersey high school star who had his football scholarship offer rescinded at the eleventh hour by Connecticut? Or the Oregon players who were put through off-season workouts so grueling that three of them were hospitalized?

        It’s only been 10 or so days since underdog Clemson beat Alabama in a thrilling national title game, but already the game is showing its festering underbelly. Once again, a lucky, powerful few get rich while the players get screwed. This is a story that spans the Northeast to the Northwest, involves contracts worth millions of dollars, and even winds its way to President-elect Donald Trump.

        On Tuesday, Oregon suspended its football strength coach for a month without pay after three Ducks players were hospitalized for several days following an off-season workout The Oregonian described as being “akin to military basic training.” Oregon head coach Willie Taggart, newly hired from South Florida to reinvigorate a once-dominant Ducks program, said in an athletic department press release that he offered his “sincere apologies” to the three hospitalized players and their families.

        It seems Taggart was trying to instill a culture of toughness at but went overboard in doing so. At least, one could argue if they really tried his intentions were in the general vicinity of the right place.

        If only the same could be said for Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

        Edsall recently took over the Huskies program, which had previously offered a scholarship to linebacker Ryan Dickens, a high school senior from New Jersey. Dickens accepted that offer several months ago.

        Dickens “wore UConn T-shirts to school, chatted in group text messages with other UConn recruits and had already planned to major in business,” reported Tuesday.

        “The kid’s world went into disarray.”

        Then just over two weeks before national signing day, with the recruiting landscape largely settled and many teams out of available spots Edsall called Dickens and told him he no longer had a place at UConn.

        “The kids world went into disarray,” Dickens’ high school coach told “Were just trying to pick up the ashes right now and find the best way to move forward.”

        Sadly, we’ve seen this story before. It’s happened to kids who planned to play for Michigan. It’s happened to kids who planned to play for Louisville. The list goes on.

        But rarely has timing conspired to make the imbalance of power between coaches and players in the big-business world of college football so starkly illuminated.

        Enter Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

        Dabo backs up the Brinks truck

        Swinney raises the championship trophy after taking down Alabama.

        Image: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via AP

        When Clemson beat Alabama last week, Swinney didn’t just win a national title. He got paid. Big time. Clemson’s post-season success earned the coach a bonus of $1.4 million to plop on top of his already-fat $4.55 million salary.

        Star quarterback Deshaun Watson got zero.

        Now consider a Swinney quote from 2014. Asked whether college players should be paid, he replied: “We try to teach our guys, use football to create the opportunities … But as far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me. I’ll go do something else, because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.”

        Yes, you read that correctly. The guy whose extreme wealth is based on unpaid athletes risking their short and longterm health complained about entitlement.

        Now is the point where a skeptic would ask, “Well isn’t this always how it’s been? Haven’t college players always toiled for the reward of a scholarship and little more? Why should it change now?”

        Dave Zirin rebuts this argument powerfully in The Nation. In a piece called “The Unbearable Entitlement of Dabo Swinney,” Zirin compares Swinney’s haul to that of Clemson’s coach in 1981, when the school last won a national title.

        “The head coach in 1981, Danny Ford, made $50,000 that year (adjusted for inflation, that would be $140,000 today),” Zirin writes.

        “As for players, their lot in life is the same as in 1981, except now they receive a $388-a-month stipend,” he adds.

        Between 1981 and 2016, college sports became a cash cow. Case in point: ESPN in 2012 paid more than $7 billion to broadcast the college football playoffs for a dozen years.

        But with fatter coaching contracts of course comes more pressure. The kind of pressure that might, for example, lead a program to push its players too hard in workouts (ahem, Oregon) or coldly rescind a scholarship offer from an eager kid to make room for someone else (ahem, UConn).

        All of this is why momentum has grown in recent years to pay college football players. Will that actually happen soon? Not if one cabal can help it.

        And here is where our story reaches president-elect Donald Trump.

        Beltway machinations in Trump’s D.C.

        From the playing field to the corridors of power.

        Image: J. David Ake/AP

        Lead1 is an association of collegiate athletic directors who, as The Washington Post recently reported, want “to quash proposals that would allow scholarship athletes to be paid.” In December, Lead1 announced plans to form a political action committee. Lead1’s press release touting the move says a political action committee will allow “members and affiliate members to pool their personal financial resources to support candidates who philosophically align” with the group’s “goals and objectives so that they achieve a stronger voice on Capitol Hill.”

        This September, Lead1 will host a gala in hopes of furthering its cause to ensure college athletes remain unpaid while coaches such as Swinney as well as administrators such as athletic directors become filthy rich. That gala’s location? Trump’s D.C. hotel, according to the Post.

        Draft promotional material for the event advertised a chance to rub elbows with “members of Congress, and special guests, including the President and Vice President of the United States,” the Post reports. A later version was more vague, offering only a chance to meet with “administration officials.” Lead1s CEO, former Maryland congressman Tom McMillen, has reportedly known Trump for decades.

        Think this all sounds just a wee bit shady? You’re not alone.

        From the micro level, seen through UConn’s football coach pulling a kid’s scholarship offer, to the macro level, seen through a political action committee’s Beltway machinations, college football has become rancid with greed and inequity.

        We knew that already, of course. But this off-season has already underscored the dismal trend with rare luminosity. And college football season is still several months away.

        BONUS: First child to receive a double-hand transplant is ready to play some football

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        These 25 People Prove That It’s Never Too Late To Succeed In Life

        As it stands today, it seems like if you’re not running a successful startup by age 27, you’re not where you’re supposed to be in life.

        And that’s a lot of pressure! Even if you’re not a millennial yourself, you probably feel the rising heat of expectation and the fear of stasis that have grown up alongside my generation. Even as I sit here, I feel like I should be running a business at 24. Logically, that feeling doesn’t make a ton of sense, but logic rarely contributes to how we feel about our respective places in the world.

        But you know who wasn’t running a company worth millions when she was in her twenties? Martha Stewart. You know who didn’t make it big until he was almost 40? The late, great Alan Rickman. Success is not linear. The prospect of it does not abandon you after your quarter-life crisis. Here are a few people who flew in the face of all that before it was cool.

        1. Wendy Davis was 36 the first time she held public office.

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        2. After being fired from numerous broadcast jobs, Oprah Winfrey launched her talk show when she was 32 years old.

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        3. Momofuku Ando was 48 when he invented every college kid’s favorite food: instant ramen.

        4. The talented Kristen Wiig didn’t start working on “SNL” until she was 32.

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        5. Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before breaking into acting at age 30.

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        6. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish the first book in her famous “Little House on the Prairie” series until she was in her 60s.

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        7. After scoring a few minor roles, Samuel L. Jackson finally made it big when he was 41.

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        8. Ray Kroc started building the McDonald’s empire when he was 52.

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        9. Wedding industry heavy hitter Vera Wang designed her first wedding gown at 40 years old.

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        10. At 50, Charles Darwin changed the face of evolutionary study upon publishing “On the Origin of Species.”

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        11. Stan Lee came up with his first superhero when he was 39.

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        12. Phyllis Diller made her stand-up debut at age 38.

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        13. After struggling with homelessness, J.K. Rowling published her first Harry Potter book when she was 32.

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        14. While most people his age were having mid-life crises, Alan Rickman was acting in his first major movie role at 42.

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        15. Matthew Weiner, creator of “Mad Men,” didn’t even get paid to write until he was 30.

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        16. It wasn’t until after he was 30 that billionaire and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman made a name for himself.

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        17. Culinary legend Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she turned 51.

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        18. Martha Stewart was 35 when she got her catering business off the ground.

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        19. James Dyson’s first patent was sold when he was almost 40.

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        20. Al Jarreau didn’t release his debut album until he was 35.

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        21. Tim and Nina Zagat started their eponymous food search company when they were both 42.

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        22. Lupita Nyong’o was 30 when she acted in her first major role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave.”

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        23. When she was 43, Kathy Bates performed the role that kickstarted her career in “Misery.”

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        24. Vivienne Westwood’s first runway show debuted when she was 41.

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        25. Ang Lee started directing at age 38 after a few great years of being a stay-at-home dad.

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        It’s never too late to start killing it, people! Who says inspiration has to strike before you turn 30, 40, or 50? No one, that’s who. If you have big dreams, go right on ahead and leave us twenty-somethings in the dust!

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