Hollywood has always indirectly held up a mirror up to society, reflecting our values and views of different aspects of life over the years. Sadly. when it comes to opportunities for men versus women, the industry has notoriously been a male-dominated one that allows its actors to pull off a lot more (under less scrutiny) than their colleagues. Cruella star Emma Thompson recently weighed in on the ongoing conversation about sexism with an apt comparison to George Clooney.
The fact of the matter is the longevity of a male actor is much, much longer than it is for a woman, on average. Think about how many times male actors have been given the time of day as 60-year-old leads, when their female co stars have been moved to the shadows. Emma Thompson talked about the subject candidly with these words:
It’s completely acceptable for George Clooney, who is delightful, to have someone who is 40 years younger than him or 30 years younger than him. If I have someone playing opposite me in a romantic way, they have to exhume someone, because I’m 61 now. Do you see what I mean? It’s completely and utterly unbalanced.
While talking on the CultureBlast podcast, Emma Thompson was teasing her work on an upcoming film called Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which will have her playing a 55-year-old widow who seeks out a 20-something sex worker after realizing she’s lived a life devoid of good sex. She shared her interest in how the film might be received once it comes out because, while it’s common for older men/younger women relationships to play out in movies, there is a double standard and taboo around the roles being reversed.
Thompson brings up a solid point here, and she’s apparently been dealing with some heightened misogyny in Hollywood regarding this exact issue since she was in her 40s. After she wrote and starred in 2005’s Nanny McPhee, she apparently started being passed roles made for much older actresses such as portraying Mother Teresa and the mother of a character played by Bradley Cooper, who is just 16 years younger than her by the way.
It’s a shame because it perpetuates this idea that once women reach a certain age, they are invaluable or uninteresting, when men’s lives are conversely explored in Hollywood at every stage of their lives in unique and interesting ways. Thompson also has a solid perspective about Hollywood’s recent focus on employing more female leads:
It’s not good enough simply to give the women the guns and make them ‘badass’ as well. Now women have to be badass. If they’re feminine in the way that they’re used to and they are not badass, then they are not welcome. Also, they’re not allowed to cry apparently anymore, because we’ve got to be like the men. So, I remember thinking that’s not what we meant? … Why are there not films about giving birth for crying out loud, does anyone even know about that? No, it’s all hidden. All our heroism is hidden because what we’ve done is just given women the same parts as men and that’s not the point.
As she explains, there’s a sometimes troubling trend happening in Hollywood where women are being given opportunities that are literally just female versions of male roles. That can be said about George Clooney’s Ocean franchise, which was given a new spin with the female-led Ocean’s Eight in 2018. As Thompson said, it’s “changing, but not nearly fast enough.”
Emma Thompson will star next with Emma Stone in Cruella, coming our way on May 28. Check out what other movies are set for this year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule.