After Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed she had been deemed too old to play a love interest in a Hollywood film, actress Miss L ponders the sorry situation for the over-30s.
That is a genuine casting call. One looking for an actress which thought women born in the NINETIES were past it. Now, unless foetuses have started writing scripts – and sometimes it feels like they are – this is not OK. Mainly because I’m 31, which means I’m somehow not just past it but PAST past it. So far past it, I don’t even know what it is. My only hope is that it is thinking that crimped hair and pedal pushers look good.
Female: beautiful, aged 18–40
Male: characterful, aged 45–99
That’s another casting call there. This one demonstrates one of the longest-standing rules in the world of acting – that the woman must be young and beautiful and the man must be older and know a good joke or two.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, wonderful Maggie, who is brilliant in everything she does, revealed in an interview this week that she has been told that, at 37, she is too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
Yep. Apparently an 18-year gap just isn’t quite enough for Lord Hollywood. The fact that Mr Senior could be voting on the very same day that Little Miss Younger was being born just isn’t quite enough. Clearly, they’re just asking actresses in their audition if they know what a Sony Walkman is and, if there’s even the slightest hint of recognition, then, sorry love. YOU’RE TOO OLD.
Basically, if women have aspirations of appearing next to Elders Clooney, Pitt and Gere, then you better hope you’re being born right now.
And you know what’s even more infuriating? Why wasn’t the 55 year old told that he was too old to be 37 year-old Maggie’s love interest? Didn’t think of that, did you Hollywood? HEAVEN FORBID a man might been seen as disposable.
But, even at 31, I’m already starting to see the roles dry up. No longer am I suitable for the most central, yet still very sidelined, female role: the love interest. My withered early 30s skin and my body, first formed in the ‘80s, is too old and decrepit to be deemed attractive now. The men I trained with are still able to go up for male leads while I’m actually off today to play the mum of a teenager. Pass the anti-ageing cream, please…
And that’s it now. From now on, I’m the wife, the mum, the grandmother. And there’s nothing wrong with those roles. Far from it. They’re some of the best people but, unfortunately, these roles are often just there to support the leading men.
The situation isn’t getting any better. A study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego University showed a miserable 12% of protagonists were female in the top grossing films of 2014 – a 3% drop from 2013 and a 4% drop from 2002. That might not sound like much, but when the figure you’re looking at is tinier than that of the average Hollywood love interest, it makes all the difference.
It also found that women are more likely to be defined by their personal roles (wife, mother, daughter, etc) and that the majority of women on film are in their 20s and 30s whereas the majority of men are aged over 40. Great.
So, how do we change things? Botox ourselves up? Pretend that we don’t know all the words to Gangsta’s Paradise? Listen to the Top 40 (is that still a thing?)? Or we can put on our favourite cardie, say enough is enough and storm Hollywood. Who’s with me?1944 Views