Maggie Gyllenhaal recently revealed that she was denied a role in a film because, at 37, she was told she was too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
In an interview with The Wrap, the award-winning actress said when the news was given to her by a Hollywood producer she initially went through several stages of emotion, including shock and anger, before laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” said Gyllenhaal. “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. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”
Younger women being cast alongside men old enough to be their fathers is a very pervasive thing in Hollywood. From the James Bond series with the age gaps between 007 and his leading ladies – to the recent Focus of Will Smith, 46, and Margot Robbie, 24, and their “chemistry-charged” 22-year age difference.
Last month, Amy Schumer, along with Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette, sought to shine some light on Hollywood’s ageism and sexism with a hilarious sketch celebrating Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ last f***able day.
Now, it seems all too real as it looks like Gyllenhaal’s time has come.
Women in Hollywood have been facing the short end of the stick since the film industry came into existence. And a study released last year proved this with its survey of 265 top earning actresses and actors in movies between 1968 and 2008.
It was found that as actresses get older, they get paid less, with wages increasing in their 20s and decreasing after the age of 34. While the salaries of their male counterparts peak at 51-years and does not decrease with age.
Another study, which was done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, found that women only represent a mere 12 per cent of protagonists in the top 100 domestic-grossing films in 2014. And this percentage is actually less in previous years.
Still, despite the dismal scene Hollywood has created for its actresses, Gyllenhaal remains optimistic about female roles.
“A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women,” she said. “I don’t feel despairing at all. And I’m more looking with hope for something fascinating.”
Gyllenhaal, who won a Golden Globe in January for her role in The Honourable Woman, is admittedly a bigger person than many of us as she chose not to name the movie that turned her down because of her ripe old age of 37.
[Image: Noam Galai/Getty Images]