Surely you've heard by now: 40 is the new 30. Want proof? Check out Brad Pitt
, who hits the milestone this week looking hotter than ever. Or Johnny Depp
, whose age has brought about newfound calm. Or any of the other stars who welcomed the big 4-0 this year as the start of something great. "At first I was hesitant about trumpeting being 40, but then I thought, 'Why?'" says actress Lauren Holly. "I'm proud of it." So forget those over-the-hill greeting cards. And just think: In another 10 years, 50 will be the new 40!
BIRTHDAY: Dec. 18
BIRTH SIGN: Sagittarius
ON THE MILESTONE "I feel better about things; "Hopefully, the trade-off is wisdom."
Buff enough at 40 to be playing a Greek god—Achilles in the upcoming epic Troy—Hollywood's favorite golden boy hardly feels like a middle-aged man. "Being 40 doesn't feel like a landmark, the way it did when my mom was 40," he told Britain's Sunday Times in July. "Then I thought, 'Damn, you're old.'" Of course, if there are a couple of new creases here or there, Pitt's heavenly good looks are hardly in danger: "I would cast him as 30 in a second," says Ocean's Eleven
producer Jerry Weintraub. Pitt and wife Jennifer Aniston
, 34, recently moved into the 12,000-sq.-ft. Beverly Hills mansion that Pitt helped renovate. "Man, I like my home," he said. "I used to love to travel and explore. But it gets harder as you get older, and I'm sure with kids, you know, it would be even harder." So...will Pitt become a papa at 40? As Aniston told Oprah
Winfrey last month, "It's that time."
BIRTHDAY: March 18
BIRTH SIGN: Pisces
When she recently pitched NBC a pilot about a woman grudgingly approaching 40, "the feedback was, 'Hey, you're hot. Nobody's going to believe you're without opportunities,'" says the singer-actress. "We had to change it to a mom who's hot and the daughter is mortified." Williams stays smoking by running and doing yoga three times a week. But her best booster is her husband of four years, LA. Lakers star Rick Fox, 34, with whom she has a 3-year-old daughter, Sasha. (She also has three children from her first marriage.) "When I whine about getting older, my husband says, 'Shut up! Do you know how many men would love to be in my situation?'" says Williams. "I get a full dose of stroking from him."
ON DIETING...OR NOT "I go through phases. When I am really good, there is no caffeine, no carbohydrates, no flour," she says. "That's rare. What I try to maintain is not eating a lot of sugar and working out."
BIRTHDAY: June 6
BIRTH SIGN: Gemini
PEOPLE'S newly crowned Sexiest Man Alive greeted 40 with "a couple bottles of wine—very calm," he said earlier this year, adding, "By the time you're in your late 30s, you're ready for it." While the younger Depp earned his bad-boy stripes via a famously trashed hotel room, today the eccentric actor "has become very much of a family man," says pal Thierry Klemeniuk, one of his business partners in the nightspot Man Ray. "It's really nice." The actor splits his time between a medieval-style house in LA. and a $2 million villa in Plan-de-la-Tour, a village in the hills above Saint-Tropez, alongside French pop star Vanessa Paradis, 30, his girlfriend since 1998, and their children Lily-Rose, 4, and Jack, 20 months. French locals know him as a doting papa poule ("father hen"), which is just the way Depp likes it. "Kiddies should grow up in a very simple, calm environment, where everything is not about the next movie," he told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas last summer. And how might the actor, who is slated to star in a remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
, greet turning 50? "You know, it might be nice to sort of drop off at some point and just go and write a book or paint," he has said. "Or you know, just kind of sit there and drool."
ON FATHERHOOD "I think it's given me everything; it's revealed me. It's given me great strength, great perspective, great calm— and sleep deprivation."
BIRTHDAY: July 30
BIRTH SIGN: Leo
Having spent all of her 30s as everyone's favorite flaky Friend, the actress is gearing up for a new life chapter as the series prepares to shoot its last episode next month. "I'd like to write, get off my butt and do a script, a novel, something," she told IN STYLE in July. She'll start by executive producing a sitcom pilot for CBS starring Aisha Tyler, who appeared as Ross's love interest Charlie on Friends. And she's still a hands-on mom to son Julian, 5, with her husband, French ad exec Michel Stern, 45. Kudrow, who works out with LA. personal trainer Gunnar Peterson a few times a week, "is definite proof that life starts at 40," says her pal, director Don Roos. "She's gorgeous, and there's a great mind behind her beauty."
ON THE NEXT CAREER MOVE "It's hard to find scripts where women get to be smart and flawed without being ditzy."
Look Who's 40
BIRTHDAY: April 18
BIRTHDAY: July 5
The Sopranos star, who found love this year with Stanley Tucci, "is so incredibly light" says her hair stylist Armando Corral.
BIRTHDAY: Aug. 19
BIRTHDAY: June 15
BIRTHDAY: Feb. 17
KEELY SHAYE BROSNAN
BIRTHDAY: Sept. 25
"I feel vibrant and less self-conscious," says the wife of 007. "I think older women have more to offer."
BIRTHDAY: June 30
The model and mom of daughter Toby, 2, hopes to have another baby. Her other goal? "To keep this 'Why not?' attitude going."
BIRTHDAY: May 25
BIRTHDAY: March 20
The model-entrepreneur delivered her third child just before her 40th birthday: "I will be going to Chuck E. Cheese when I'm 50!"
BIRTHDAY: Feb. 9
BIRTHDAY: July 29
"Boys still flirt with me," says the married former Baywatch star. "I'm hoping they'll flirt 'with me till I'm in my 70s, and I will flirt right back!"
BIRTHDAY: May 11
BIRTHDAY: Dec. 16
So, Ben, you're turning 40 .... "I have no idea what you're talking about!" says the new dad (of Sophia, with wife Talisa Soto). "I feel like a million bucks!"
BIRTHDAY: Oct. 28
"I feel stronger now," says the actress and mother of two. "I feel way more attractive."
BIRTHDAY: March 11
"I don't think of 40 as the halfway point," says the ER star, whose daughter Salome is 2. "I think of it as the quarter point!"
Reported by: Ruth Andrew Ellenson, Rachel Felder, Amy Longsdorf, Peter Mikeibank, Vicki Sheff-Cahan and Alison Singh Gee