“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Maggie Gyllenhaal admitted in a new interview with TheWrap. Among Gyllenhaal’s most recent disappointments was being rejected for a role on the basis of her age. This is Hollywood — a mythical land where twentysomethings with overdeveloped biceps and receding hairlines play high school students — so it begs the question, just how age-sensitive was this role that an Oscar-nominated actress was being denied consideration?
“I’m 37, and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55,” revealed Gyllenhaal. “It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” To recap, Gyllenhaal was nearly 20 years younger than her presumed co-lead, but apparently still not young enough. The producers and casting director evidently thought she couldn’t convincingly incite desire in a man who was old enough only to be her father, rather than her grandfather.
It’s not exactly news that leading men are often significantly older than the actresses cast alongside them. While it’s easy enough to simply observe this age difference on the big screen, Vulture put together a helpful series of charts illustrating that leading men age, while their love interests don’t.
Still, hearing about this ridiculous casting practice directly from an actress really drives the point home. By going public with this experience, Gyllenhaal is offering evidence that confirms just how toxic, and frankly, ludicrous, the results of Hollywood’s sexist and ageist attitudes are.
Gyllenhaal is ultimately optimistic about women’s roles in Hollywood. “A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women,” said “The Honourable Woman” star. “I don’t feel despairing at all. And I’m more looking with hope for something fascinating.”
[via The Wrap]