Skip to comments.Female, forty and furious
Posted on 01/18/2004 5:53:14 PM PST by Sub-Driver
Female, forty and furious January 19, 2004 - 11:24AM
On the attack ... Sharon Stone, Holly Hunter and Meg Ryan.
Hollywood's most formidable female stars have united to condemn "sexist" film moguls for failing to find roles for women over 40.
Meg Ryan, Holly Hunter, Charlotte Rampling, Sharon Stone and Whoopi Goldberg are among a group of 30 actresses who have taken part in a documentary by Rosanna Arquette to be screened in Britain this summer.
The documentary is seen as a thinly veiled attack on moguls such as Harvey Weinstein - the portly co-owner of Miramax - who control the film industry and the careers of Hollywood actresses.
Arquette, 44, who rose to fame when she starred opposite Madonna in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, said that her interest in what happened to 40-year-old women in Hollywood was sparked by the experience of
Debra Winger, the star of Terms of Endearment, who announced that she was quitting in 1996 aged 40. "Ageing," Arquette said this week, "equals career death."
In the documentary, called Searching For Debra Winger, Winger, who has been nominated for three Oscars, tells how she decided to quit and reveals that while she was working on An Officer And a Gentlemen the notorious producer Don Simpson told her that she needed diet pills.
Julianna Margulies, 37, who starred in ER opposite George Clooney, speaks frankly about the rigours of the casting couch. "You ask anyone that has been in those [audition] meetings. They say, 'Yeah that actress is great but would you f*** her?' And they ask all the men in the room."
The documentary will provoke heated debate in Hollywood, which has long been accused of discriminating against women for their age and beauty. Arquette told London's Sunday Telegraph that she had already received criticism from film bosses. "There are a lot of misogynistic men who are very angry about it," she said. "They've told me, 'It's just a bunch of chicks sitting around bitching about us'."
In the film, Daryl Hannah, 43, says that the root of the problem lies "with the guys who run the studios. They choose projects that they identify with and they say, 'I'd like to be that man having an affair with a chick of 18'."
Samantha Mathis, 33, agrees. "It's the revenge of the nerds syndrome, all these guys couldn't get a girlfriend in high school. They are smart but they have no social skills; suddenly they are running studios in a position of power."
Arquette's subjects are candid and often angry about the way the industry has spat them out once they have aged. Martha Plimpton, 33, says: "For women it's either, she's a starlet or she's an old hag." Whoopi Goldberg adds that film producers "want you to think that you're done" once actresses had turned 40.
Arquette, who is currently filming another documentary about musicians, continues to act and has recently been filming two comedies with the British actresses Imogen Stubbs and Jennifer Saunders.
She says that certain elements of Hollywood have always annoyed her. "I find it offensive that in Hollywood a 68-year-old movie star is paired with a 30-year-old, or someone even younger. You think, 'Come on, who are you kidding'. It is offensive."
Other interviewees said that they had financial problems when the parts dried up. Theresa Russell, 46, says: "It was really hard, I didn't get an audition for years and I started running out of money. I thought, what else can I do? I resent being in this situation. They want to put you out to pasture."
In any other profession, she says, "your work would get better the older you got". Holly Hunter, 45, who won an Oscar for The Piano, believes actresses are at their peak at 40. "The deal is that actresses who are good have probably never been better once they hit 40. Once I hit 40 I had charms that I didn't have when I was 30 and I want to use them."
Teri Garr, 53, who has appeared in more than 50 films, including Tootsie, insists that films should reflect the existence of older women in real life. "There are people who are my age and older who still exist in the world, so there should be writers who write stories that include them. There should be parts for us, even if they are smaller."
She adds: "I remember when I was young the great actresses telling me, 'Wait till they tell you your face has been ravaged by time'."
Diane Lane, 39, dislikes the vocabulary used to describe older women's looks. "If you want to live you must age. Beauty has to be a certain way [in Hollywood]." If you age, she says, "it is described as 'damaged beauty' or 'sad beauty' or 'aged beauty'." She adds: "Character actresses will always work freely because they are not coming from the immaculate time when one looked perfect." Adrienne Shelley, 38, the star of The Unbelievable Truth, tells of how much sex plays a part of being a Hollywood actress. She says: "I get a call in my car on the way to an audition from the agent. He said, 'What is really important is that they think you are f***able'.
"The man walks in and looks right at my tits and I saw in his face that there was no way I was going to get the part. And yet in the real world there is no way I would give this guy the time of day."
Lane urges women to make more of an issue of the problem. "When women don't want to talk about these issues it is so awful," she says. "Hiding away just perpetuates the problem.
"Women want to watch other women of their own age sometimes. All these young people are great but let them watch each other. We want to watch us."
Memo to these washed hags: if you had an ounce of inner beauty, you would have no problems. Until then STFU.
So here's another HYPOCRITE bump!
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