in “Feud: Bette and Joan
After more than four decades in the industry, Jessica Lange
continues to deliver standout performances and rack up awards. She’s up for an Emmy this year for playing Joan Crawford
in “Feud: Bette and Joan
,” and has taken home two trophies from the ceremony in recent years for her work on “American Horror Story
.” But Lange is one of very few women her age who continue to be cast in major roles.
“Ageism is pervasive in this industry,” she says in a new interview with Aarp. “It’s not a level playing field.” And particularly not for women. The Oscar
winner explains, “You don’t often see women in their 60s playing romantic leads, yet you will see men in their 60s playing romantic leads with costars who are decades younger. I think about how few wonderful actresses of my generation are still doing viable, important film work. You go to television. You go to the stage. You do whatever you can because you want to keep working.”
Lange’s frequent collaborator, Ryan Murphy
, has spoken out against ageism in the industry as well. “I feel like it’s ridiculous that women over 40 aren’t working,” he’s said.
While TV is dramatically more welcoming to older actresses looking for meaty roles, the small screen is still ageist — and sexist. Dr. Martha Lauzen’s research report on the 2015–16 TV season revealed that “42 percent of male characters were 40 and older but only 25 percent of female characters were 40 and older. Few characters of either sex age into their 60s and beyond. Five percent of males but only 2 percent of females were 60 and above.”
In the past, Helen Mirren
— one of the few actresses her age who continues to book leading roles — has also addressed the fact that men age and their romantic co-leads don’t. When she was asked about Maggie Gyllenhaal
’s admission that, at 37, she was “too old” to play a 55-year-old man’s love interest, Mirren responded bluntly: “It’s fucking outrageous. Fucking outrageous. It’s ridiculous, honestly. It’s so annoying.” The “Eye in the Sky
” star insinuated that the double standards for aging male and female actors are nothing new, saying, “We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”
Quote of the Day: Jessica Lange
Says “Ageism is Pervasive” in the Film Biz was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.