The Golden Age of Hollywood
Since moving pictures first started to appear in the form of films and televised programmes, producers and writers have tried to capture screenshots of real life to reflect back at us on our screens. Of course, we all know that this tends to be a version of reality, where the characters are more beautiful, witty, and loveable than any normal human can ever hope to be. We are aware that behind every beautifully shot image is a team of people creating that particular moment of stylised perfection. In more recent years, consumers have been more vocal about their desire to see real life on the screen, rather than this idyllic image that has been created for us and, as a result, the industry has been reflecting this in its casting. Slowly, people of a wider range of dress sizes, religions, ethnicities and genders have been easing their way onto our screens. There is still a long way to go, but it is an improvement nonetheless from the white, beautiful, slim actors we are used to seeing.
But there is one thing that I think has stilled not been addressed.
Last night I was watching a film with my mum and sister (It was called Magic in the Moonlight and wasn’t anything thrilling for those of you who care). In brief, it’s a rom-com about magicians and psychics staring Emma Stone and Colin Firth as the lead characters. As I was watching the film, I thought it was remarkable that they chose two actors with such a large age gap to play the romantic leads. As the film went on, I realised that this was not a plot point. That there wasn’t really anything in the story that required such a big age gap, and it wasn’t mentioned in the script. The more I thought about it, the weirder I thought it was, and later on I went on IMDB to look up some things. Here were my findings.
Colin Firth is 55. Emma Stone is 26. That’s nearly a thirty year age gap that we just accept.
Don’t get me wrong, my problem is NOT with age gaps in couples. That happens in real life and most certainly should be represented on our screens.
My question is this. Why couldn’t an older actress have played the part?
Hear me out. I’m not saying that younger up and coming actresses shouldn’t be cast. Emma Stone is very talented. I just don’t understand why all lead female characters have to be played by women under the age of 35. Would it be so terrible if Emma Stone’s character had been played by someone older? If so, why?
The truth is that women over this age rarely get cast in lead parts, which leaves a huge proportion of people on this planet unrepresented in creative mediums. My mum was desperate to say that it had improved slightly, pointing out The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the fact that Meryl Streep was 45 in Bridge over Orange County as shining examples.
Firstly, I told her, we should be able to see these women in films and simply say “here are some people” rather than “here are some old people,” (which is what the marigold hotel seems to say, wonderful as it is to see Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton all in one film).
Secondly, although Meryl Streep was indeed 45 (which let’s face it, isn’t exactly old), Clint Eastwood (her lover in the film) was 75, and GOD FORBID we ever cast a woman in her seventies in a romantic lead.
Here are some real exceptions to the rule, which I’ve put here just to make me feel a little better about the industry into which I have placed myself. I am an actress in training, and these women give me hope that my career won’t end when I’m thirty.
This film written loosely around the Virginia Woolfe book “Mrs Dalloway” stars Nicole Kidman (at 35) Julianne Moore (42) and Meryl Streep (62) and all of them are utterly stunning.
Catelyn Stark is one of my favourite Game of Thrones characters. At the age of 51, it’s great to see her getting up to all kinds of badassery in order to protect her family.
The Grey’s Anatomy star was 36 when she started the show ten years ago, and she’s still going strong now.
The actress turns 51 this year, and in the last ten years has still been amazing in so many films such as Gravity, The Proposal, and the Blindside.
Sarah Jessica Parker
The Sex and the City actress was in the TV series until just before she was 40, but has since made 2 films for the franchise as well as taking the film industry by storm.