Jessica Chastain Hits Back at Russell Crowe’s Denial of Hollywood’s Ageism Problem

ZUMA/© Imago

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Jessica Chastain is firing back at comments made by actor Russell Crowe, after he attempted to explain why there aren’t enough roles for women over the age of 40 by blaming unrealistic, female desires to only play the hot young thing.

Crowe’s controversial comments came during a recent interview with Australian Women’s Weekly:

The best thing about the industry I’m in – movies – is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life. To be honest, 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.

In response to Crowe’s victim-blaming away Hollywood’s well-documented ageism problem, Chastain told reporters, “Russell keeps getting his foot stuck in his mouth!”

“There are some incredible actresses in their 50s and 60s that are not getting opportunities in film, 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,” she added. 

Riding to Crowe’s defense, however, is 18-time Academy Award nominee Meryl Streep:

I read what he said — all of what he said. It’s been misappropriated, what he was talking about. He was talking about himself. The journalist asked him, ‘Why don’t you do another ‘Gladiator,’ you know, everybody loved that.’ He said, ‘I’m too old. I can’t be the gladiator anymore. I’m playing parts that are appropriate to my age. Then the conversation went on to actresses. So that was proving a point, that he was talking about himself, as most actors do. That aside, I agree with him. It’s good to live in the place where you are. You can put old age on; it’s a lot harder to take it off.

But as Jezebel points out, Streep is not dismissing the charge that Hollywood lacks roles for older women—she has spoken out against both sexism and ageism in the film industry on numerous occasions. Streep is suggesting actors in general play their own age. Chastain is saying that many great actresses aren’t given that opportunity. 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.