Is Maggie Gyllenhaal really too old to play a 55-year-old's girlfriend?
Last month, Amy Schumer wrote a hilariously brilliant NSFW sketch titled “Last F—able Day” that poked fun at the way Hollywood treats female celebrities after a certain age. According to Schumer, Tina Fey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, men can basically be a thousand years old and still be considered sex symbols while, at some point, lady celebs lose all sex-appeal and luster and might as well throw in the towel —hey, they’re done! They’re old! No more sexy sexiness! WELL, Schumer wasn’t wrong, and she wasn’t kidding around. Hollywood recently proved her right when they told 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal that “she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man,” The Wrap reports.
Obviously, Gyllenhaal was upset. “There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” the actress explained to The Wrap. “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.”
While it’s good to see Gyllenhaal laughing it off, the situation is definitely not funny. Because Gyllenhaal isn’t the only female celeb to find Hollywood’s double-standard and ageist decision-making totally annoying (and unacceptable). In 2008, gorgeous 67-year-old Faye Dunaway told Telegraph, “I am furious that they think I’m too old to play the love interest of guys like Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood. Why should I play sisters and mothers while guys like Jack and Clint, who are older than me, have on-screen lovers half their age?” Similarly, Sharon Stone and Demi Moore have gone on record to express their frustration with Hollywood’s ridiculous expectations and beauty standards. Stone once joked, “When I went to the Oscars it was like, ‘Oh, there’s been an archaeological dig and look what we’ve found, a 40-year-old.”
When it comes to hiring females across the board, Hollywood’s track record is maddening. In fact, it’s so awful, the American Civil Liberties Union recently launched an investigation into Hollywood studios, threatening to charge them for “rampant and intentional gender discrimination in recruiting and hiring female directors.” Besides that —women in Hollywood just don’t get as many parts as men do. Between 2007-2012, women made up only 30.8% of speaking roles in Hollywood’s top 500 films.
So, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s experience is very clearly not just an isolated event. Women (of ALL ages) are discriminated against by the entertainment industry too, too often. But we’re also optimistic. With the involvement of the ACLU, and more and more people speaking out against Hollywood’s gender and age bias and raising awardness of the issue, we hope to see more progress and lasting change in the industry in the years to come.