She’s only 32, but Anne Hathaway is already beginning to feel the pressure of being an older actress in Hollywood.
In a candid interview with Glamour UK, Hathaway talked about how she’s learnt the hard way that ageism plays a major role in dictating an actresses success – and ability to work – in the cut-throat world of show business.
“I can’t complain about it because I benefited from it,” Hathaway told the magazine. “When I was in my early twenties, parts would be written for women in their 50s and I would get them. And now I’m in my early 30s and I’m like, ‘Why did that 24-year-old get that part?'”
“I was that 24 year old once, I can’t be upset about it, it’s the way things are. All I can do right now is think that thankfully you have built up perhaps a little bit of cachet and can tell stories that interest you and if people go to see them you’ll be allowed to make more.”
The Academy Award winner is certainly not the first actress to admit the sad truth about Hollywood’s distorted standards for women and fellow actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dame Helen Mirren have both called out ageism in Hollywood before.
At 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal shared that she was turned down for a role because she was told “too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
“It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh,” Gyllenhaal told The Wrap.
Mirren backed up Gyllenhaal’s comments, describing ageism as “fucking outrageous.”
“It’s ridiculous. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying,” she said.
The idea that women of a certain age are no longer “fuckable” was something comedian Amy Schumer addressed in a hilarious skit on her show Inside Amy Schumer.
The segment, which featured Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Julia Louis Dreyfus celebrated Julia’s “last fuckable day” as the woman toasted the fact that Julia had now reached her use by date as a believable love interest.
Fey also laughs about how Hollywood standards are skewed against women, telling a bewildered Schumer that men are fuckable forever.
“They could be 100 and have nothing but white spiders coming out, but they’re fuckable,” she says.
Watch the skit here. Post continues below.
Although many actresses have admitted that they feel the pressure of Hollywood’s ageist culture, Russell Crowe – Hathaway’s Les Miserables co-star – disputed the idea that woman are held to an unrealistic standard.
“To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that (the roles have dried up) is the women who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21-year-old” he told The Australian Women’s Weekly.
“Meryl Streep will give you 10, 000 examples and arguments as to why that’s bullshit, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be,” Crowe said. “If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.”
While there are certainly roles for Streep and Mirren, the evidence certainly suggests that once women reach a certain age, the work dries up.
San Diego University’s Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film has found that the gender gap persists in Hollywood, despite young actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley often leading box office successes such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.
While women are underrepresented in leading roles, women in film are also consistently younger, with women over 40 accounting for only 30% of characters on screen while men over 40 make up 53% of all roles.
Do you think ageism in Hollywood exists?
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