We Can’t Wait To See Jodie Comer And Matt Damon In The Last Duel, But What About That Age Gap?

Jodie was four when Good Will Hunting came out...

Jodie Comer

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on

Jodie Comer has been spotted in Ireland filming The Last Duel, and has been photographed in her costume, elaborate hairstyle and, crucially, a visor to keep her and others safe in troubled times. The film, which stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver, is set for release next year. But when it was first announced, we noticed that there is something of an age gap between Jodie and her love interest. Here's what film writer Helen O'Hara considered last year.

Next year, Jodie Comer will be starring in The Last Duel, opposite Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It's the first time Affleck, 47, and Damon, 49, have shared the screen for more than a cameo since their breakthrough in 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 1999's Dogma. But when that Oscar winning hit came out, Comer (26) was four. And she's not playing the daughter of either man in this new film, but the wife of one. When an MTV reporter noted the age gap Comer joked, 'I’m going to bring that up. I’ll let you know how that goes down. Probably lose my job.' But maybe it’s time to talk seriously about age gaps.

What's depressing is how unsurprising this is. Hollywood takes it as read that female love interests will be younger than male stars, often by a significant amount. The age gap between Tom Cruise and his on-screen love interests has increased steadily as he has aged: it now hovers around 18, with occasional spikes above 20. Maggie Gyllenhaal, at 37, was told she was 'too old' to play the girlfriend of an action star in his 50s, and Olivia Wilde starred opposite Liam Neeson despite their 32-year age gap.

Of course, women in real life sometimes date older men and in individual cases the heart wants what it wants. But the sheer dominance of intergenerational love on-screen, almost always an older man and younger woman, is symptomatic of some toxic tendencies. It's the primacy of youth over experience for actresses, and the struggle for women over a certain age (30 or so) to find a wide selection of work. It's evidence of how undemanding many of these roles are: they require no experience. And it suggests that established male stars demand, or at least welcome, the suggestion that they can still pull hot young women whatever their age. Never mind that it might distract female viewers from the story: ego trumps realism.

Affleck and Damon are far from the worst offenders in this respect: they’re probably hyped to star opposite Villanelle from Killing Eve and not analysing it any further. And none of this is to criticise Comer for taking the part. She said of it, 'I loved the script. The character is this remarkable woman who risked her own life and reclaimed her life in the process'. Set in medieval times, Comer’s character is married to one star and accuses the other, her husband’s friend [played by Driver], of raping her, leading to a trial by combat. If her husband wins, his best friend must die; if the man she accused wins, her own life is forfeit as a 'liar'. Such a dramatic film could be a huge step forward at this early stage in her film career. Comer’s starring opposite Ryan Reynolds next year in Free Guy, about a man who discovers he’s a character in a video game, but the role of Molotov Girl doesn’t seem destined to launch her to the top of the A-list. A well-received role in a Ridley Scott epic just might, however.

Still, given that this film is set in a time when life was nasty, brutish and short, maybe younger men should have been cast in the leading roles, or an older woman cast so that everyone looks equally worn down by the hard times and lack of decent skin care. But give or take this movie, we have to change this assumption that young women belong with older men. When we’re chiefly valued for our youth we're always faced with a losing proposition, because it will inevitably fade, and talented people like Jodie Comer should be working for decades to come, not disappearing once they turn 30.

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