Okay, that’s not ENTIRELY true. But if someone told me Johnny Depp is nearly 50, as Vulture recently pointed out, I would order them to shut up as I coaxed myself out of pure shock. I’ll give you like a minute to process this information, too. Are we ready? Okay. Will Smith, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Robert Downey, are all either in their fifties, or rapidly approaching the big five-oh (except Denzel – he’s almost 60!) and these A-List actors seem to always be set up with actresses much younger than they are in almost every single film.
When I started researching the trends, I immediately thought of Leslie Mann in Knocked Up. After she and Katherine Heigl try to cut the huge line at their club and are told to go back to the end of it to wait with the rest of the crowd, Leslie’s character is in tears and wails, “It’s over! My youth. I’m going to be alone! F**king men! I get worse looking and he gets better looking and it’s so f**king unfair.”
The facts are all there. Johnny Depp, who’s almost 50, got paired with 25-year-old Amber Heard in The Rum Diary (and actually dated her in real life, too). In Dark Shadows, Depp’s vampy character’s love interest is played by Bella Heathcote, 24. In his most recent film, Transcendence, Rebecca Hall, 30, is his 20- year younger female counterpart. At 57, Denzel Washington hooks up with Kelly Reilly, who’s 35, in Flight, and even Steve Carell, who was 49 when they filmed Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, finally finds true love with 27-year-old Keira Knightley.
Maybe this fictional match-making mirrors the reality that is Hollywood. For example, Al Pacino, 71, used to date 31-year-old Argentinean actress Lucia Sola. Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn dated for five months despite their 24-year age difference, and of course we had Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, which thankfully ended.
I am totally okay with this whole age difference conundrum, because my personal philosophy is that age is just a number, and you really can’t help who you fall in love with, even if they’re a wrinkly bag of bones in a wheelchair. Love is love, people! But it pisses me off when an older woman is branded as a “cougar” if she’s the one dating a younger man. Like, how much scrutiny did Sandra Bullock face when people found out she was dating Ryan Gosling? Or when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were a thing? It’s kind of rare in Hollywood and the real world that older women bag young guys, but when it happens it’s like a meteor just hit earth… whereas it’s pretty much a norm at this point if an older man is in a relationship with a much younger woman, because I guess men just keep getting more attractive while women supposedly plateau.
However, there are always exceptions to the Hollywood norm, and it’s so refreshing! I love that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Pepper Pots, is Robert Downey Jr.’s love interest in Iron Man. In O Brother, Where Art Thou, Holly Hunter was 42 while Clooney was 39. Jessica Lange’s character on the first season of American Horror Story was shacked up with some hunky 20-something. Let’s shake things up, Hollywood. And when you do, don’t make a big deal out of it. And holy s**t, why wouldn’t Ashton Kutcher go after Demi Moore? She’s a total babe.