Emma Thompson is not impressed with how Hollywood handles women, especially women of a certain age. And that age is not nearly as high as you might think. Add to that the expectations and “beauty standards” that actresses are expected to meet, and Emma Thompson is actually a little pissed off.
“I think it’s still completely shit actually,” Thompson candidly informed Radio Times. “I don’t think there’s any appreciable improvement and I think that for women, the question of how they are supposed to look is worse than it was even when I was young. So, no, I am not impressed at all.”
A classic example of how what Emma Thompson is so fired up about works in Hollywood was brought to light this year by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“I’m 37,” Gyllenhaal said, “and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”
— NARAL (@NARAL) July 16, 2015
The practice of getting younger actresses to play older roles runs contrary to what had long been the classic wisdom in film and theatre. Used to be, you got an actor to play down in age. The logic was that this person had already been through that part of life and could represent it accurately and with honesty.
But now Hollywood swings the other way, putting looks above experience and skill. Story lines pairing younger actresses with older leading men are quite common.
Emma Stone recently addressed this. Stone herself has been the beneficiary of such castings. But she won’t be young forever.
“It’s rampant in Hollywood and it’s definitely been that way for a long time, both culturally and in movies,” Stone says. “But in Irrational Man, the film is contingent upon the age difference; the movie is about that disparity. And when I did Magic in the Moonlight, Colin Firth and I talked about the gap which was huge, absolutely, because he was born the same year as my dad,” Stone says.
As for Thompson, her latest film, The Legend of Barney Thompson, casts her as older. Thompson is only 56, but was cast as a 77-year-old woman.
“It would be really nice to get someone who is actually 77 to play her,” Thompson said, “but it’s a wildly comic role and I couldn’t resist.”
The occasional role cast younger is one thing, but Hollywood seems to have a deep-seated issue with older actresses now.
“When I was younger,” Emma Thompson says, “I really did think we were on our way to a better world and when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women and I find that very disturbing and sad.”
“So I get behind as many young female performers as I can and actually a lot of the conversations I have with them are about exactly the fact that we are facing and writing about the same things and nothing has changed, and that some forms of sexism and unpleasantness to women have become more entrenched and indeed more prevalent.”
@schmidtlander but I just read the comments in Emma Thompson. People were saying she couldn't really complain about sexism because she is $$
— Terry Dresbach (@draiochta14) July 22, 2015