Powerful Hollywood mega-star tells ageing female actors: "Stop whingeing, be more like me."

Oh, thank God for Russell Crowe.

And no, not in the way that I used to thank God for Russell Crowe. Like back in the Gladiator days, when he was so outrageously, in-your-face sexy that even Sex And The City name-checked the buff, Kiwi-Aussie, sandal-wearing God.

 Samantha: “Who do you fantasise about?” Carrie & Miranda in unison: “Russell Crowe.” Those were the days. 

A lot has changed since then.

Russell Crowe is no longer Gladiator, he is now a football-club-owning dad and film-maker who’s never met a pair of tracksuit pants he didn’t like.

Oh, age. It happens to us all.

Russell Crowe.

But according to the ever-helpful Mr Crowe, women don’t realise that ageing happens. We struggle to let go of our youth, our beauty, our status as the “hot girl”. And it makes us whinge and whine about inequality.

And we can thank God for Mr Crowe pointing that out, as he did to the Australian Women’s Weekly this month.

Are you ready?

“The best thing about the industry I’m in – movies – is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life,” he told AWW when asked about the perceived discrepancy between the sexes in Hollywood. “To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that (the roles have dried up) is the woman 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.”


Even Meryl thinks it’s funny that Russell doesn’t believe sexism in Hollywood exists.

But hold on, Russell wants to make his point by citing some very famous women, and himself:

“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. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work…. The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.”

We all know what Mr Crowe is trying to say here, and on the surface of it, it may sound like common sense.


Here are some very fabulous Hollywood actresses over 40. Post continues after gallery: 

Except that it’s not. Men and women, in Hollywood, as in, um, life, don’t play on a level playing field. Let’s look at the facts.

In 2013, only 15 per cent of the top 100 movies made featured a female main character.

In the same year, women made up only 30% of all speaking characters in those films.

And only 13% of those movies featured equal numbers of male and female cast members.*

So before we even talk about age, Mr Crowe, female actresses are fighting for far fewer roles at any ‘life stage’ in your business. Then.

Men over 40 represented 55% of all male characters in movies.

Women over 40 represented 30% of all female characters.

So although it’s true that Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are very visible exceptions to this rule, and that these days women in their 40s – Jennifer Aniston, say, or Cameron Diaz – are playing romantic leads – it is NOT, by any definition, BULLSHIT that there are just as many roles for men as women at any age.

 The unbelievably awesome Helen Mirren, here with the equally brilliant Emma Thompson, disagrees with Russell. Of course. 

And, sorry, Russell, but there’s one more problem.

One of your poster-women for working at every “life stage” doesn’t even agree with you. Because she is excellent, because she is smart, and because she has, you know, eyes, when Mirren accepted an award at the 2010 Women In Entertainment awards in LA, she said:

“I’ve seen too many of my brilliant colleagues, who work non-stop in their 20s, their 30s, and their 40s, only to find a complete desert in their 50s. And no work means no income…. I resent having witnessed in my life the survival of some very mediocre male actors and the professional demise of some very brilliant female ones.”

Ouch, Russell. Right?

* Statistics from It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: On-Screen Representations of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2013 by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D.