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Jessica Chastain & Meryl Streep Respond To Russell Crowe’s Ageism Comments

jessica chastain meryl streep

Russell Crowe got “his foot stuck in his mouth,” according to Jessica Chastain. And I couldn’t agree more.

Crowe recently made remarks about ageism in Hollywood, specifically how it pertains to women. In an interview with Australian Women’s Weekly, Crowe, a middle-aged white actor who’s always readily had roles available to him (from L.A. Confidential in 1997 to last year’s Noah), ageism in Hollywood doesn’t exist. He said: “I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that [the roles have dried up] is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21-year-old.”

“Foot in mouth” is a pretty accurate assessment of Crowe’s remarks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the “young ingénue” is pretty much all that’s available to actresses these days, which makes it difficult for older actresses to ever land a role. Even the limited amount of roles that should be played by actresses in their 40s or 50s go to younger actresses like Jennifer Lawrence (see: Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle).

By contrast, leading men like Liam Neeson and Tom Cruise keep getting older, but their love interests stay the same age. Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight paired Colin Firth, 54, with Emma Stone, 26. Upcoming heist film Focus pairs Will Smith, 46, with Margot Robbie, 24. Mark Wahlberg’s love interest in The Gambler is played by Brie Larson, who’s 18 years younger than him. Vulture made graphs to provide a visual representation of this trend, and the difference is pretty egregious.

At the 2014 National Board of Review Award Gala, Chastain said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Meryl Streep defended Crowe. In an interview with The Telegraph, she was quoted as saying: “I agree with him. It’s good to live in the place where you are.”

She added that she took The Witch role in Into The Woods because she felt it was “age appropriate.” She added: “I just had a political sort of reaction against the concept of old women being demonised and age being this horrifying, scary thing. I just didn’t like that. I didn’t like it when I was a little girl, I don’t like it now. But this is a complex film. Every person is at war with themselves, everybody is after something and they’re willing to compromise everything to get it.”