Hollywood always seems to have an “It” girl, doesn’t it? Jennifer Lawrence, Katherine Heigl, Angelina Jolie and Julia Roberts have certainly fit that bill over the years. And then there are actresses like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, who also left a pretty iconic mark on Tinseltown.
But what happens to these women as they get older? It’s no secret that Hollywood trends towards young and pretty people — especially for leading roles. As a result some pretty phenomenal actresses have been cast aside, with established actors getting increasingly younger co-stars. In today’s day and age you’d think things have changed at least a little bit though, right?
“Aging actresses still have the same problem, I can guarantee that,” Susan Sarandon says.
The former Thelma & Louise star has thought a lot about the issue, that’s for sure. In part because she’s playing an “aging” leading lady in Bette Davis, for Ryan Murphy’s new series Feud. The series looks at the infamous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (as played by Jessica Lange), when they worked together on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It was the only role either woman could get at the time, and Crawford infamously had to bring it to a producer on her own in order to get the part. Or any part, for that matter, despite her Oscar.
“A big part of this show, is what Hollywood does to women as they age, which is just a microcosm of what happens to women generally as they age, you know,” Lange says. “Whether you want to say they become invisible, or they become unattractive or they become undesirable, or whatever it is. Joan was ten years younger when this takes place than I am now, and yet her career was finished because of her age.”
Lange points to Amy Schumer‘s awesome “Last F–kable Day” sketch that we all know and love, as a great example of how Hollywood still treats women in their 40s and beyond.
“Joan was known for her tremendous beauty, but what happens when that beauty is no longer considered viable? Because a woman at a certain age can no longer be considered beautiful?,” Lange questions. “What happens to women as they age and become considered less than important?”
“When I started, it was over by 40. So definitely, the line has been pushed,” Sarandon continues. “But also, you weren’t supposed to have children. I was told on many occasions not to bring up the idea that you had children, because in some way, that would cut into this idea that you weren’t sexy or sensual, or whatever. So I think those things have changed, and you see the line being moved a little bit further.”
“I don’t think it’s changed that much, really, to tell you the truth. I really don’t,” Lange counters. “It’s not necessarily a question of age or looks. I think it is who is interested in these stories? And if the powers that be don’t find that there is anything viable or interesting in a story about a woman of a certain age, those films aren’t going to be made.”
Thank goodness for television then.