Television is always looking for the next big thing. Usually, that involves trying to get actresses who are up and comers and little known. Freeform and the CW are two networks known for latching onto unknown starlets and often making them names, using their sexy heat well to sell their series. Occasionally, a show goes to an established name but it’s usually still someone in their thirties or younger. Indeed, FX’s Feud deliberately showcases the challenges actresses of a certain age have faced in Hollywood with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis run down on being 50 (ironically, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are far older). So it’s true TV can go for the younger ladies to intrigue.
However, some actresses are able to defy this because of their sexiness. There are a lot of ladies who, in their 40s (or even 50s) look far sexier than women half their age and their talent helps as well. Some have made careers in television while others have done movies as well but they all showcase how you shouldn’t ignore a woman because of her age. TV has several of these ladies on screen now in a variety of roles but the fact many of them are the leads on their shows speaks volumes to how hot and talented they can be at an age many network execs say is “over the hill.” Here are 15 ladies on TV screens today over the age of 40 who still hold viewer attention better than ever before.
15 Lucy Lawless (49) - Salem/Ash vs. Evil Dead
It was over 20 years ago that Lucy Lawless became a geek goddess and she hasn’t slowed down since. At first appearing as a pure villain on Hercules the Legendary Journeys, Xena proved popular thanks to Lawless’ great performance in the role. So the producers turned her into a hero and a spin-off that was a major hit. Lawless handled everything from action to romance (including with women) to become a lesbian icon. She took time away when the show ended but returned as a Cylon on Battlestar Galactica and showed her great comic side with Parks and Recreation. She also gave fans what they wanted with her turn on Spartacus that often had her baring her amazing body in full.
Lawless continues to keep herself busy today, first playing a twisted countess on WGN America’s Salem. This had her showing off in wild tight outfits and some very sexy scenes. Lawless also stars in Ash vs. The Evil Dead, the Starz reboot of the cult horror-comedy series. Her role as Ruby went from a law-woman to actually being a twisted immortal being, allowing Lawless the chance to show both action and hot skin. Whatever the role, the former Warrior Princess ensures that when it comes to kicking ass and looking great doing it, few women on TV at any age can touch her.
14 Lena Headey (43) - Game Of Thrones
It’s almost funny to see Lena Headey in her early roles such as the proper English lady in 1995’s live-action The Jungle Book. She killed time in a variety of roles in movies in England and a few in the U.S. She finally exploded to stardom with 2007’s 300 as the gorgeous queen who mixes fighting with some sexy love scenes. Headey then managed the feat of stepping into an iconic role in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She made the role her own, very hot but tough as hell to make the show a cult success.
Today, Headey has landed her biggest role yet, Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. From the start, she’s showcased the conniving nature of this woman, doing everything she can to maintain power in this kingdom and not above using her body for it. Headey is gorgeous and cool yet smoldering well in hot scenes and provides the show its wicked edge. The latest season ended with Cersei finally sitting on the Iron Throne but faces challenges keeping it. Still, don’t bet against her as Headey makes sure you root for Cersei even as you hate her and look great doing it.
13 Taraji P. Henson (46) - Empire
A stunningly talented actress, Taraji P. Henson came to attention with her role in Hustle & Flow and earned an Oscar nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She’s kept busy in movies like Think Like a Man and the acclaimed hit Hidden Figures. But in television, Henson has been a notable face such as playing a cop on The Division and a lawyer on Boston Legal. She was hailed by fans for her turn in Person of Interest as a police officer fighting rogue cops that got some sexy stuff and fans upset when she was killed off.
But those complaints were ignored when Henson landed the role of Cookie on Empire. From the moment she sashayed into a board meeting in a fur coat and long fedora, Henson owned the series and hailed for her amazing work. She shown off in amazingly hot scenes like dressing in sexy lingerie in a boardroom, a variety of wild outfits and sexy hookups and kills with every funny line. It’s helped make the series a mega-hit and the role of her career and Henson shows she’s hotter now than she ever was before to make Cookie a treat.
12 Ming-Na Wen (53) - Agents Of SHIELD
It’s hard to believe this woman is 53 years old. Ming-Na came to attention playing a newbie doctor on ER and the sitcom The Single Guy. She also became famous in movies playing Chung-Li in Street Fighter and voicing the title character in Mulan. She bounced around various TV shows, including Stargate Universe, always with a nice cool style to herself. That serves her well as Melinda May on Agents of SHIELD, nicknamed “The Cavalry” for her fighting style. In a tight leather suit, Wen is fantastic in fight scenes, holding her own in combat against tougher opponents and bouncing back well. She still has a sexy side with some hook-ups and has handled everything from playing an evil double to a robot version of herself. But Wen looks stunning and the few times she dresses up (like an evening gown), she’s amazingly sexy. The lady may be over 50 but she looks far younger and outdoes her co-stars in hot stuff to showcase who the real heroine of the show is.
11 Archie Panjabi (44) - Blindspot
Born in England to Indian parents, Archie Panjabi got attention for her amazing look, exotic beauty and lush eyes along with a great accent. She starred in Bend It Like Beckham and a variety of TV shows in her native land. In 2009, she got her big break as Kalinda, the leather-boot wearing investigator on The Good Wife. She was soon the best part of the show, cool and collected yet very steamy stuff thanks to how Kalinda played for both sides in the bedroom. Fans adored her character and it earned Panjabi an Emmy award. She exited in the sixth season amid talk of dissension on set and the infamous story of how she and Julianna Marguiles refused to actually shoot their final scene together.
Panjabi starred in the British crime drama The Fall as a motorcycle-riding medical examiner and got fans going with a scene of kissing Gillian Anderson in a bar. She’s back on TV in NBC’s Blindspot as the leader of an elite FBI team who handles raids and looks great in outfits. But she has sexy stuff too like sleeping with a co-worker and Panjabi handles that with her great cool vibe. No matter the role, the 44-year-old is always sure to put her unique stamp on it.
10 Sofia Vergara (44) - Modern Family
The Columbian bombshell was literally discovered at a beach and immediately offered jobs as a model. Sofia Vergara became notable for her amazing body and lush dark hair and got offers for shows like the short-lived The Knights of Prosperity and Dirty Sexy Money. This led to her key role of Gloria on Modern Family. From the start, the show has loved to showcase everyone baffled at how elderly Jay landed this knockout single mom and it adds to the comedy. Vergara is amazing at the comedy, such as the mangling of English, her high-living fashion and often not grasping how she can turn men into a drooling mess. She handles it all well, standing tall among the hot ladies of the show and can nail the more heartwarming stuff like raising a young son and being with this family. Still, she remains a true knockout and the show enjoys having her flaunt her look so much to make her one of the hottest mamas on TV.
9 Amanda Peet (45) - Brockmire
Back in 2000, Amanda Peet made her big breakout in movies in The Whole Nine Yards. Her turn as a would-be hitwoman won over audiences and critics, especially for the scene where she guns down some guys while stark naked. At the same time, she was starring in the WB series Jack & Jill, playing Jack, one of a pair of young lovers. In 2006, Peet starred as a network executive in Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip but the would-be surefire hit ended up a failure that lasted one season. Peet has kept busy on various movies and shows like The Good Wife and got major attention for the HBO dramedy Togetherness. Her role as the sister to a struggling mom won raves and had a memorable scene of Peet showing off her still great chest.
Today, Peet is back on TV in the acclaimed IFC comedy Brockmire. Hank Azaria plays the title role of a sportscaster who suffers a public meltdown that turns him into an internet sensation. Peet plays Jules, the bartender and owners of a small minor league baseball team who hires him for a comeback. Peet looks fantastic in the part, bright and funny and she and Brockmire have a drunken fling that shows her sexiness off. Still a great looker, Peet is in her comic element with this show to keep her beauty going.
8 Catherine Bell (48) - The Good Witch
This is a woman who just doesn’t seem to age. Catherine Bell started off with a variety of unique TV shows and small movies (even a softcore pic) before getting a role of a murdered soldier on JAG. She made such an impact that the producers brought her back the next season in a new part, Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie. For ten seasons, Bell was great in the roll, balancing action, drama and a hot bikini scene to enthral viewers. Shortly after the show ended, Bell landed the lead in Lifetime’s hit Army Wives as a nurse who gets involved in some sexy stuff as well, leading to a good seven-season run.
During the run of Wives, Bell starred in the Hallmark Channel movie The Good Witch as Cassie Nightingale, a woman with a magical air about her in a small town. The movie was a ratings hit and for the next five years, Bell would make an annual sequel. Finally, in 2015, Bell was freed to play the role in a regular weekly TV show. Now a single mom to a teenager, Cassie still has her unique ways in her small town playing with mild magic and Bell herself looks fantastic in the role. There really is something magic in how the woman looks sexy as hell after 20 years on TV.
7 Teri Hatcher (52) - Supergirl
Teri Hatcher’s career in television stretches all the way back to being a dancing “mermaid” on The Love Boat. She plugged away in minor roles in TV and movies until 1993 when she was cast as Lois Lane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. She was a sensation, sassy and funny as hell and the image of her in just a Superman cape was one of the first Internet photo sensations. She had a role in Heavenly Creatures that had her baring her body in a big scene but hit a rough patch after the show ended, reduced to Radio Shack commercials with Howie Long.
Hatcher made a major comeback playing clumsy Susan on Desperate Housewives and thanked creator Marc Cherry for casting her “when [she] couldn’t be a bigger has-been.” She retained her great looks and hot body in numerous sexy scenes to help the show be a hit. Since Housewives ended, Hatcher played a mom on Jane By Design and a recurring role as a sexy lady on The Odd Couple. Now, she dons a terrific costume to play Rhea, royal queen of the planet Daxam on Supergirl. Mixing regal bearing with a conniving side, Hatcher already has had good scenes with star Melissa Benoist and building up to a big showdown. Seeing Hatcher as the super-powered lady is a nice turn and in a skintight uniform just makes it better.
6 Famke Janssen (52) - The Blacklist Redemption
It’s been over 20 years since Famke Janssen exploded onto the scene with her role as Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye. Her performance as the twisted killer who killed with her legs was a great one that boosted her as a Bond Girl and made her famous. She followed that up by playing Jean Grey in the X-Men movies to show off her sexiness. Janssen has shown off nicely on television such as her wild role as Ava Moore on Nip/Tuck, starring in the dark horror series Hemlock Grove and a recurring role as Viola Davis’ ex-lover on How To Get Away With Murder.
Currently, Janssen stars in The Blacklist: Redemption, a spin-off of the hit NBC series. As Susan “Scottie” Hargrave, she runs an international mercenary operation who get involved in a lot of shady deals. It gives Janssen a lot of opportunities to show off as Scottie is often shown with a bevy of young male lovers and flaunting her beauty well. Seeing Janssen as sexy as ever shows there are second acts for Bond Girls, especially the ones who are so good being so bad.
5 Jennifer Lopez (47) - Shades Of Blue
At 47, J’Lo has conquered most everything from music to movies and ruling in the tabloids. So it only makes sense she’d be able to make her mark on television as well. In 2016, Lopez made her debut in a regular weekly drama series with Shades of Blue. The NBC series has her as Harlee Santos, a single mother cop who joins the rest of her unit in dirty deals in order to provide for her daughter. Busted by the FBI, Harlee is forced to be an informant on her own team to keep her freedom. Lopez handles it with amazing glamor, several scenes of her getting out of the shower or tub to flaunt that body that just doesn’t know when to quit.
Lopez has grit to go with the glitz, hot as hell in suits or tank top and jeans and believable in a fight scene. The first season ended with her using her legs to snap the neck of her abusive ex-husband and now cleaning up the crime scene. The show continues to be a success, the likelihood of a third season and proves that in any medium, Jenny From the Block continues to be one of the hottest women alive.
4 Keri Russell (41) - The Americans
Keri Russell is a long-time veteran of television. She was one of the stars of The Mickey Mouse Club, bright and cheerful with a big mane of frizzy curly hair. She had her big movie debut in Honey I Blew Up the Kid and some minor roles in various TV movies. In 1998, Russell burst onto the scene big time with her title role in the WB series Felicity. It was a hit with audiences and raved by critics as she handled living in college and wrestling with her feelings over two guys. The show was so big that when Russell cut off her long curly hair in season 2, it was blamed for the series faltering in the ratings.
After the series ended, Russell tried her hand at movies like Mission Impossible III. She’s made a huge comeback with The Americans, the FX series that’s hailed as one of the best shows on TV today. As Elizabeth Jennings, a KGB agent in deep cover, Russell is able to take on a variety of disguises as she goes about her work, including murdering in cold blood. But she also shows a very hot side, Russell often showing her bare backside in steamy scenes and the chemistry between her and Matthew Rhys is so great, it’s no wonder the two are now married. Russell continues to show how she’s come a long way and even sexier than ever.
3 Julia Louis-Dreyfus (56) - Veep
She’s 56 but looks far younger and still can show off a highly underrated mix of beauty, brains and one hell of a sense of humor. Julia Louis-Dreyfus got her start on a run on Saturday Night Live to show her comedic chops and some hot style. She put both to good use on Seinfeld, stealing the show with amazing work and earning her first Emmy award. While Watching Ellie flopped, The New Adventures of Old Christine was a long-running hit that earned Louis-Dreyfus another Emmy award. She even scored playing a version of herself on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Today, Louis-Dreyfus has locked onto probably her best role as Selina Meyer, the hapless Vice-President on HBO’s Veep. Dropping F-bombs like crazy, Louis-Dreyfus shows amazing comic chops and also gets some surprisingly sexy stuff as you can’t help but root for this mess of a woman even when she threatens to screw up the country. It’s earned her five straight Emmy awards and possibly a sixth as the final season begins. Some may joke how real-life politics are more crazy than on the show but Louis-Dreyfus still makes herself a sexy lady you love to laugh at and with.
2 Bridget Moynahan (45) - Blue Bloods
A former model, Bridget Moynahan, got her acting break as the girlfriend of “Mr. Big” on Sex & The City. She also was featured as a hot leather-clad bartender in the cult movie Coyote Ugly. While she had blockbusters like The Sum of All Fears and I, Robot, Moynahan kept it up on TV such as playing an attorney on the ABC series Six Degrees which only lasted one season. Moynahan did get attention in an unexpected way as in 2007, she was dumped by boyfriend Tom Brady despite being pregnant with his son (the two remain on good terms).
But the actress has been a good face for CBS for the last seven seasons as Erin Regan on Blue Bloods. Pretty much the one major female cast member in the series, Erin is from a family of cops who decided to go into law instead and now a District Attorney. Few women on TV can make a power suit look hot as hell as Moynahan does and she can get some hot stuff like a shower scene with a lover and when she shows off in an evening gown, looks amazing. Erin is handling her feisty daughter now in college and any scene with Moynahan makes the show crackle and she can turn Blue red-hot.
1 Nicole Kidman (49) - Big Little Lies
It took a long time for Nicole Kidman to come to television but she’s sure making up for it. She actually starred on an arc of the Australian western series Five Mile Creek way back in 1985. She came to prominence in 1990 with Days of Thunder where she met future husband Tom Cruise. While pushed in various small films, Kidman showed her stuff in To Die For and Eyes Wide Shut which included some hot nude scenes. She and Cruise divorced just as Kidman hit her stride with Moulin Rouge, The Others and her Oscar-winning turn in The Hours. While she’s been criticized for overdoing Botox and some flops, Kidman still has her talent with an Oscar nod for Lion.
She’s finally hit TV with HBO’s acclaimed Big Little Lies, toning down the glamour as Celeste, a retired lawyer who, like everyone else in town, has some secrets to her past. It’s impossible for Kidman to not look hot, however, especially when she doffs it all for a memorable shower scene and a hot hook-up. The show has been a hit with buzz over a second season with Kidman open for it. She’ll also be starring in the next season of the BBC drama Top of the Lake to prove that even on the small screen, Kidman has to rank as one of the hottest women of any age.