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03 Jul 2015 00:00
Helen Mirren in The Tempest. (Supplied)
Act your age, ladies! So says Russell Crowe, middle-aged Oscar-winner, streetfighter and frontman of his own persistently unsuccessful rock band/vanity project. In an interview with Australia’s Women’s Weekly to tell us he’s in a new film, Crowe Magnon weighs in on the state of women in Hollywood and decides the argument that women can’t get roles past a certain age is “bullshit”.
“The best thing about the industry I’m in, movies, is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life.
To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that [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 seems to have missed the point about his colleagues – women who don’t have his privilege of being able to grow a gut, a temper, be permagrizzled and still get jobs.
Crowe’s only saving grace is that he has managed to keep his own career age appropriate – at least when it comes to the female leads cast opposite him. A low bar, but an anomaly for a leading man.
One Jezebel commenter investigated 2014’s 20 highest-grossing films (excluding animations) in the United States and found that, on average, three out of 10 actors were women, and only a pathetic 8% of those actors were aged between 40 and 59, and just 2% were women over 60.
Crowe goes on to argue that Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren would agree that, “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.”
Of course, Mirren and Streep aren’t proof that there are parts for older women. They are, as Tina Fey routinely points out, proof that there are parts for Mirren and Streep.
And the idea that Crowe, who has just turned 50 but has spent his career perfecting Grumpy Old Guy, was ever successful as the hot young thing is funny because it’s so untrue. Come on, Crowe, you were, after all, the one man deemed right to play the 400-year-old lead in Noah last year.
His shtick is cragginess. Until more women in Hollywood have an equal opportunity to age without fuss and stay on the A list, his point is old hat. – © Guardian News & Media 2015
Nosheen Iqbal is The Guardian‘s commissioning editor for features
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