Ageing in Hollywood is - sadly - never without its controversy when it comes to women. So there’s no wonder that Russell Crowe found himself in deep water when he made demeaning comments regarding older female actors in December. In fact, his opinions have sparked a range of reactions - some of which may come as quite a surprise.
‘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,’ Crowe, er, crowed during an interview published before Christmas. ‘Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that's bulls**t.
‘So will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be.’
Jessica Chastain hit back at the comments, saying that Crowe was ‘getting his foot stuck in his mouth’, and leaping to the defence of actresses who are missing out on crucial roles as they get older.
‘I there are some incredible actresses in their 50s and 60s that are not getting opportunities in films. ‘And for someone to say there are plenty of roles for women that age - they’re not going to the movies enough.’
Now, Meryl Streep has waded into the debate too - yet, surprising only to come to the defence of Crowe. In an interview before the London UK premiere for musical fantasy Into The Woods, the 65-year-old said she’d read the comments - and agreed with him.
‘It’s been misappropriated, what he was talking about,’ she said. ‘He was talking about himself. ‘The journalist asked him, "Why don’t you do another Gladiator, you know, everybody loved that." He said, "I’m too old. I can’t be the gladiator anymore. I’m playing parts that are appropriate to my age." Then the conversation went on to actresses.
'So that was proving a point that he was talking about himself, as most actors do.
‘That aside, I agree with him. It’s good to live in the place where you are ... You can put old age on; it’s a lot harder to take it off.’
But are she and Crowe right? The ‘Hollywood way’ is for female stars to simply fade away with their looks as they age, frequently prompting an onslaught of drastic plastic surgery, whilst men continue to flourish.
Conventionally in show-business, women simply can’t afford to age. And until Hollywood truly starts valuing talent over looks, will it ever change?