Earlier this week, Russell Crowe declared that the disparity between the number of roles for men and women over the age of 40 in Hollywood mostly stems from, “the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingenue, and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21-year-old.” Unsurprisingly, Crowe’s female colleagues are now weighing in.
In his interview, Crowe referred to Meryl Streep as a woman who has successfully accepted roles appropriate for her age bracket. Streep was asked about his comments at a press junket for Into The Woods, and her response—seen in the video below—is best described as “diplomatic.”
Streep first clarified that she felt Crowe’s comments were “misappropriated” and that he was actually speaking more about himself and his own career than about women in Hollywood. She went on to say, “That aside, I agree with him. It’s good to live in the place where you are.”
Streep’s thoughts on roles for older women are further clarified by interviews she did back in December. Speaking with ABC News, she noted, “I had resisted playing a witch for a very long time because I was offered three witches when I turned 40—in one year. And I thought: ‘Oh, this is how it’s gonna go?’” She then told Entertainment Tonight, “Honestly, the idea of witches—I think it’s [rooted in the] terror of older women that has lived in many different cultures. And I don’t like it.”
Jessica Chastain, meanwhile, was more decisive while speaking with Cosmopolitan, noting, “I think Russell keeps getting his foot stuck in his mouth.” She added, “There are some incredible actresses in their 50s and 60s that are not getting opportunities in films, and for someone to say there are plenty of roles for women that age…[that] is not someone who’s going to the movie theater.”
To help clarify the issue, The A.V. Club decided to compare the ages of award-winning roles for men and women. To date, 23 women age 40 or older have won an Academy Award. By comparison, 56 men have earned the award while in that age bracket. So—at least when it comes to award winning material for older actors—the gender disparity is concrete.