Female Actors Face a Best-Before Date in Hollywood
Thanks to Hollywood parents now have one more topic to address with their daughters—ageism. It’s not enough that our daughters are told they have to be skinny, sultry and available. Now women have an expiration date.
Maggie Gyllenhaal discovered she’s hit the best before date when she was told she’s too old (at 37) to be attractive to a 55-year-old man. Ageism, it appears, is alive and well in Hollywood, and has been for a long time. Fred Astaire was 30 years senior to his love interest Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 movie Funny Face. Harrison Ford is 21 years older than his co-star Julia Ormond in the 1995 film Sabrina. And Dustin Hoffman had 22 years on Emma Thompson in the 2008 film Last Chance Harvey.
Jeff LaBrecque from Entertainment argues that “some of Hollywood’s heavyweight decision makers—the studio execs who can get a film green-lit with the snap of a finger—are men whose own romantic relationships accurately reflect that male/female age disparity.”
A Vocativ analysis of the top 25 grossing films of the last five years found that the age gap between younger actors is much smaller. In The Fault in Our Stars, Shaileen Woodley is even two years older than her co-star Ansel Elgort. But as male actors grow older, their female co-stars became increasingly younger than them. In Edge of Tomorrow 51-year-old Tom Cruise plays opposite 31-year old Emily Blunt.
Vocativ’s chart shows an interesting age gap pattern. Vulture came up with its own graphs showing the age disparity between actors like Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Liam Neeson and their female love interests.
For the most part, teens likely won’t notice the lack of mature female faces on the big screen. But adult women will have a harder time finding characters, especially in leading roles, that reflect their age or roles.