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Russell Crowe is not the man he used to be. He admits that, at the age of 50, he is no longer suited for roles like Maximus in Gladiator and must now go after projects more suited for his age, like Jor-El in Man of Steel and Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic. But what bugs him the most is how, he says, actresses aren’t embracing age-appropriate roles in the same way.
Speaking with Australia’s Women’s Weekly, he praises the plethora of roles that are available to actors and actresses in Hollywood, which makes him perplexed — nay, frustrated — how women in the 40+ age circuit are complaining that there are no longer any roles for them.
To be honest, I think you'll find that the woman who is saying that [the roles have dried up] is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she's not being cast as the 21-year-old. Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that's bullshit, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.
Now, here’s what Russell Crowe seems to missing: he is speaking from his own privileged experience in a male-dominated industry. It’s admirable that he realizes that he shouldn’t be tackling roles better suited for his younger, Gladiator-ready self, but we bet if he wanted to, he could get back into action-heavy gigs like that. Just look at the 68-year-old Sylvester Stallone, the 67-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger or the 66-year-old Samuel L. Jackson. Their latest projects aren’t pegged to 20- or 30-something actors, but with all the action and stunts taking place, they might as well be. Age is rarely a source of criticism when it comes to actors, but the same can’t be said for actresses. Unless you are Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren, you’re going to have a harder time landing what Crowe would call age-appropriate roles that are also worthy of their talents. Plus, he doesn’t even acknowledge the constant pressures for women in the industry to look years younger than their age.
Crowe’s biggest mistake, in my opinion, was calling out Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, which proves that he clearly hasn’t been paying attention to the Hollywood gender inequality debate. It’s no secret that the movie industry is overflowing with male energy, and Streep has been one of its harshest critics. In 2014, she called Walt Disney a "bigot" and raged against the "shocking underrepresentation of women in our business." So, yeah, she still might be landing Oscar-worthy roles, but even she realizes there are way bigger problems at play.
As for Mirren, she railed against Hollywood’s portrayal of women back in 2010 with a speech that began with how often her gender is "unappreciated, underused and ill-used." While quoting her mother, she even questioned the audience, "Aren’t you tired of being told what you can and cannot do?" Crowe, take notes.
Later on in Crowe’s interview, he seemingly became more comfortable with his statements.
I have heard of an actress, part of her fee negotiation was getting the number of children she was supposed to have lessened. Can you believe this? This [character] was a woman with four children, and there were reasons why she had to have four children — mainly, she lived in a cold climate and there was nothing to do but fornicate all day — so quit arguing, just play the role!
From what we can gather on this, perhaps Crowe was speaking through a hidden agenda against this unnamed actress. Still, if you’re going to involve the all-powerful Meryl, you better use her name for good!