Earlier this week, Sir Ian McKellen had spoken about homophobia among Oscar voters. Now, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest celebrity to join the diversity debate surrounding the 2016 Oscars. She criticised Hollywood’s sexist discrimination of actresses over 40.
Zeta-Jones, 46, while talking about her latest movie “Dad’s Army” in a webchat on Mumsnet, said that the Hollywood bosses feel the majority demographic of cinemagoers are less interested in watching older women on screen, reports The Guardian.
“I have been in this business since I was nine years old, and have heard the same thing said throughout the different parts of my career. Then, HELLO, I’m in my 40s … and it’s true. It’s not that there aren’t great stories to be told about women in their 40s, it’s just that the big bosses in Hollywood feel that the demographic of moviegoers are less interested … I wanted to be in film because I was brought up watching great performances by women in their 40s, in the 70s: Anne Bancroft, films like ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ interesting roles for women, at a great age,” she said.
She also expressed her thoughts on the ongoing debate over diversity in Hollywood. “There’s talk in Hollywood about diversity right now, and it’s a good conversation to be had, and necessary, but when we say diversity, let’s mean diversity for actors with ethnic differences, age differences and sex differences … Let’s go back to the writers, to the film-makers and more importantly the studios who finance movies, to get them to have projects where diversity has a chance.”
Zeta-Jones isn’t the only actress to speak on ageism for actresses in Hollywood. Anne Hathaway and Liv Tyler have also spoken on the contentious issue.
Hathaway, 32, said she feels sad that 24-year-olds are now beating her for roles that are meant for older characters. However, she thinks it’s unfair for her to complain as she once took advantage of that same favouritism in Hollywood for rising young stars.
“I can’t complain about it because I benefited from it. When I was in my early twenties, parts would be written for women in their fifties and I would get them,” she told Glamour. “Now I’m in my early thirties and I’m like, ‘Why did that 24-year-old get that part?’ I was that 24-year-old once. I can’t be upset about it, it’s the way things are,” she told Glamour magazine.
Liv Tyler, at 38, already feels like a “second-class citizen” in Hollywood. “Thirty-eight is a crazy number,” said Tyler. “It’s not fun when you see things start to change. When you’re in your teens or 20s, there is an abundance of ingénue parts which are exciting to play. But at [my age], you’re usually the wife or the girlfriend — a sort of second-class citizen,” she told More magazine as quoted by The Guardian.
However, Tyler thinks that there are “more interesting roles for women when they get a bit older.”
This issue of Hollywood discriminating actresses on the basis of their age was highlighted in May last year, when Maggie Gyllenhaal said in an interview with The Wrap that a producer told her she was too old at 37 to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.