An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis

An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis

Leonardo DiCaprio is 45 years old. Age has treated him well—not quite a fine wine, but middle age has been okay to him thus far. The puffiness has settled on his bones, and his face is “weathered’ in the way a man’s face can be but a woman’s cannot. He makes movies that some people like and otherwise dabbles in his second-favorite activity: dating twenty-something models. Some might call it a “preference,” but to me, it’s clear as Leo’s crystal blue eyes what’s going on: this man is in the middle of an ongoing and prolonged midlife crisis.

DiCaprio’s version of a male midlife crisis is fairly pedestrian, ripped from the playbook of midlife crises that could almost be literally passed around from famous man to famous man once the progress of time propels them into the murky swamp of midlife. Instead of leaning into the potential joy that fading relevancy offers, famous men who have been famously famous for their looks and their acting react to being left behind by acting out in ways that are so familiar, they can be categorized by celebrity. Brad Pitt’s 2017 pivot to sculpture and vaping comes to mind, as does Ben Affleck’s large, beautiful back tattoo and his passion for Jack in the Box.

The famous men of Hollywood, standing knee-deep in regret, mired in the bogs of midlife, are really all just following rules that existed long before they reached this stage of life and will continue to exist long after their stars have faded into obscurity. Here is a helpful guide to the male celebrity midlife crisis, so that you can differentiate one type from another and thus correctly classifying any and all middle-age male celebrities.


The Brad Pitt

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Image: Chelsea Beck

Really into matcha, just started therapy, exploring “art” a healing modality, quit smoking weed, into making things. Likely embraces pottery as a hobby for about two weeks before abandoning it to tinker around with café racer motorcycles in his expansive garage. Will definitely tell you everything you’ve ever needed to hear about adaptogens while also unpacking his most recently unearthed childhood trauma.


The Sad Man Handling Big Feelings

Illustration for article titled An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis
Image: Chelsea Beck

Processing big feelings about the temporality of life itself is difficult, but avoiding them by publicly processing via any of these behaviors works, too: get an enormous back tattoo, take up smoking again, be sad publicly, quit smoking, vape, engage in a relationship that is either for the tabloids or real. Examples: Ben Affleck, the progenitor of this midlife crisis iteration.


The model-guy

Illustration for article titled An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis
Image: Chelsea Beck

Leonardo DiCaprio has been fucking the same type of woman for the majority of his time in the spotlight: Brazilian models roughly 20 years his junior who all sort of look alike. This is a fairly standard mid-life crisis move, but one that few men ever grow out of. Examples: Leonardo DiCaprio, Alec Baldwin.


Sleeping with the nanny

Illustration for article titled An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis
Image: Chelsea Beck

A wide swath of predominantly British men have slept with their nannies as a midlife crisis panic move, or perhaps because they simply cannot keep the banger in the appropriate mash. But don’t worry, American men also seem to be fond of this trend. Examples: Hugh Grant, Jude Law, Ethan Hawke, and (yet again), Ben Affleck.


The Artiste

Illustration for article titled An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis
Image: Chelsea Beck

Not every midlife crisis results in messy public affairs or a sudden interest in matcha; sometimes a famous man discovers the artist within and processes the sadness of life’s sunset via artistic expression either on the canvas or in the pages of a sad and not very good novel. Examples: Jim Carrey, James Franco, Sean Penn.


The Good Man

Illustration for article titled An Illustrated Taxonomy of the Male Celebrity Midlife Crisis
Image: Chelsea Beck

This man had no discernible midlife crisis, did not exhibit any behaviors that could be described as untoward, is dating an age-appropriate woman, and has taken on film roles that are gently mocking of his status without sacrificing any large part of his soul. A stand-up guy. Examples: Keanu Reeves and that is about it.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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