Jennifer Tilly (Getty)
“When I spend time in Vegas my ideas about beauty change a little bit,” Jennifer Tilly
tells me. She's calling from California's Commerce Casino, a stop on the North American Poker Tour. "When you're in Vegas, it's all about flash. The skirts are a little bit shorter and everyone has hair extensions, and it's all low-cut.”
Tilly has become something of an expert on the Vegas look; As a poker pro, she finds herself living there for months out of the year. “There’s a lot of smoke in the air, you don't get out in the sun, so you don't get Vitamin D, so it's more crucial than ever to make sure that you work out,” Tilly said. She works with a personal trainer who comes to the casinos, armed with lunchboxes filled with healthy food.
Still, Tilly says it can be jarring to spend so many hours under artificial lights. "You know in the winter how some people get Seasonal Affective Disorder? I get that feeling in Las Vegas, because I think human beings aren't meant to live under fluorescent lights with artificial oxygen."
Tilly and boyfriend Phil Laak (Getty)
Tilly, like many of the women featured in the 50 Most Beautiful Women over 50
, is constantly in the process of self-education. She's the type of woman who, in the course of a warm and hilarious conversation, will reference several different studies she's read addressing an impressive variety of topics. "One study that I read said a lot of times people get old because they believe that's what they're supposed to do. Which sounds ridiculous, but people have pre-conceived notions about what old is."
Tilly prefers to live a life without limitations. "I think people get afraid of things, they don't embrace innovation because it's frightening to them." She tells me she's inspired by director and actor Andre Gregory, who moved to New York City's West Village in his 70s, after his wife died. "He said, just being around all these artists and all the bohemian young people, it just made him feel young and alive. He's the hippest, youngest person I know."
Tilly at Vivienne Westwood's LFW fashion show (Bauer Griffin)
Tilly is frank about the pressure women in the entertainment industry face to appear younger than their years, however. "There's an ongoing obsession with youth, right now, especially in Hollywood ... This obsession with plastic surgery is befuddling to me," Tilly muses. "I think the thing is, when you're an actress, and you're going to do stuff, you don't get the parts that are going to the 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds. You just look like a 50 year old who's had stuff done. Some of my friends who were so beautiful, now I feel like they can only play like, I don't know, a Park Avenue trophy wife? Or someone who was once a great actress? They can only play parts that reflect their own demographic."
Which isn't to say Tilly hasn't had moments when she's considered undergoing the knife—even if she only recently realized how invasive laser procedures really are. "They make it sound like they're going to bathe your face in this beautiful light," she laughs.
Expect to see Tilly continue to challenge herself. "You're never too old to do anything. I realized I always wanted to make a record, I've always wanted to sing, and then I just suddenly decided I'm going to do it. It's not, 'Oh, that's what you do in your twenties,' it's 'That's what I want to do.' And that's what I'm in the process of doing right now."Browse the latest pictures of Jennifer Tilly: