Quotables Roundup: This Week In Hollywood Ageism

“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Maggie Gyllenhaal recently remarked to TheWrap Magazine.

The rest of Gyllenhaal’s comment has since gone viral:

I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me.”

Of course, Gyllenhaal isn’t the only celebrity fielding questions about Hollywood ageism this week. Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, and Blythe Danner have, each in separate interviews, also remarked on youth, aging, and the casting process.

Michael Caine stars in Youth, a film which, by one Deadline columnist’s account, received “anywhere from a 10- to 17-minute ecstatic standing ovation” at Cannes yesterday.

At a Cannes press event, Caine recalled his own experience discovering he was, at least according to casting directors, too old to play a romantic lead. He’d returned a script, believing the role was too slight. The script was returned to him with an addendum: Caine wasn’t reading for the romantic lead, but for the character’s father.

“And that’s when my career changed. …I suddenly realized I wasn’t gonna get the girl anymore. But I was gonna get the part, and I really did get some parts, because after I lost the girl, I got a couple Academy Awards, so that was okay.”

Caine, on playing “grandfatherly” types:

“The only alternative to playing elderly people is playing dead people. So I’m quite smart. I picked elderly people.”

Caine, who is 82, apparently has multiple nude scenes in Youth. (Presumably costar Harvey Keitel also performs in-the-buff, but this is hardly news: Keitel has always been game for anything.) Michael Caine, on the matter of his role’s nudity:

“It didn’t matter to me because it’s the only body I’ve got. …An aging body, also, to people who are not old, this is what’s going to happen to you. So don’t get too smart about it.”

Jane Fonda also appears in Youth, in what critics have repeatedly called a scene-stealing cameo. Fonda answered questions about Hollywood’s ageism in a recent interview with the Guardian:

“I wish I were brave enough to not do plastic surgery but I think I bought myself a decade.”

Fonda, on actors’ “challenging careers”:

“[T]here’s so much emphasis, especially for a woman, on how you look. You’re not in control.”

Meanwhile, Blythe Danner—perhaps best known to the younger set as Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother—stars in I’ll See You in My Dreams. At the age of 72, this is Danner’s first-ever starring film role.

Danner, in an interview with Vulture:

“You just don’t see movies about my generation very much. We’re invisible. And I’m glad that these young people are responding to the fact that you will grow old and die. You will suffer. We all experience loss, and grief is the price we pay for loving.”

Perhaps we really are, finally, on the precipice of a more interesting Hollywood. “A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women,” Maggie Gyllenhaal told TheWrap. She continued,

“I don’t feel despairing at all. And I’m more looking with hope for something fascinating.”

[TheWrap]
[Vulture]
[The Guardian]
[Vulture]