Russell Crowe thinks it’s a myth that there are no good parts for older actresses


Bedhead & I didn’t coordinate stories, I swear! Earlier today, Bedhead covered the Isabella Rossellini interview where she literally said “I really don’t work any more as an actress. I am old, and there are no roles for older people.” And now Russell Crowe is saying that the lack of work for actresses over the age of 35 is a flat-out myth. Crowe spoke to an Australia publication and he was asked about the complaints from some actresses about how little work there is for middle-aged or older actresses. His response was just to dismiss it out of hand. Oh, Rusty. You idiot.

Oscar winner Russell Crowe says Hollywood’s’ leading ladies need to act their age if they want career longevity in the notoriously ageist industry. In an interview with The Australia Women’s Weekly on Monday the forthright 50-year-old, who’s directorial début The Water Diviner hits screens on Boxing Day, gave his take on the issue.

‘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,’ he said.

The Gladiator star, whose showbiz career has spanned 44 years, says success is possible for men and women- at any age- and the belief that it’s harder for older women is a myth.

‘Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that’s bulls***,’ he says. ‘So will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.’

But for father of two Crowe his new role as a director marks a change in his perspective as he hopes if the movieis a box office hit he’ll be able to film again in his home country Australia – and spend more his sons Charlie, 10 and Tennyson, eight.

‘Even through the largest periods of success in my life, my principle aim – when I finish the job – has always been to get home,’ he told The Guardian on Monday. ‘To go to the bush and, more recently, to be with my kids.’

[From The Daily Mail]

My argument: it’s not that 40-year-old women are upset that they’re not being cast as the ingénue, it’s that the ONLY roles available to many actresses are the ingénue roles. It’s not a matter of “actresses can’t accept their age” it’s a matter of poor quality parts for women of every age. I mean, of course there are examples to prove Crowe’s point as well, most notably… his good friend Nicole Kidman. Nicole has been stuck in this holding pattern of playing perpetually 33-year-old characters for the past decade and that’s partly on her and partly on the stupid casting directors who would rather deal with a 45-year-old Botox-face playing 33 than actually hiring a 33-year-old actress. Still, Russell is 50 years old and he’s still being cast as the lead in major studio films, year after year. He’s not playing the young buck… because he doesn’t have to. Because the roles get richer and the scripts are better for men past the age of 35. No one can say the same for women.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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85 Responses to “Russell Crowe thinks it’s a myth that there are no good parts for older actresses”

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  1. Kiddo says:

    Thank goodness we heard this from the world’s leading older-woman-actress. Russell, you go girl!

    • Snazzy says:


      I swear, the more he speaks the stupider he gets

    • Elisa the I. says:

      GAWD, I’m tired of men “knowing” what it’s like for women…

      • L says:

        I’ve always heard and used the term “mansplain” for this.

        Yes please Russell mansplain to me the plight of women actresses. Mansplain to me man on the subway about how as a woman scientist it is not so tough in my field.

        I despise mansplainers

      • MoxyLady007 says:

        Why are we continuously burdened with the spectacle of actors operating under the delusion that they are intelligent?

    • Bridget says:

      Russel Crowe, noted expert on women.

    • Serenity says:

      Oh Kiddo!! You made me break out into a huge grin so thanks for that!

      I just looked at the ‘Russell, you go girl!’ line and it’s just making my day!!

    • LeAnn Stinks says:

      Russell Crowe is moron. The end.

    • Bear says:

      I agree with him. 50% of the cast of every movie is female. If you showed a world where there are only men it would look strange. Working actresses like Emma Thompson, Merrill Streep, Diane Keaton, or Helen Mirren are the examples people use because they are good at their craft. They still work because they have always worked their age and because they are good at what they do. I’m sorry but who else do you bring up? Isabella Rosselini was a pretty face, not an actress. Sean Young was mental. Julianne Moore doesn’t look 54 so she can’t play a 54 year old’s role.

      Unless you’re looking at an action film, there are always female roles and if it is a romance, there will be 50/50.

      Look at Merrill Streeps page and she’s doing a movie a year if not more. The problem is with we women that WE don’t think that roles requiring wrinkles are interesting and we’re not comfortable with aging. You can’t hire Julianne Moore at 54 for a 54 year olds (mother) role in a drama because most women at 54 don’t look like they’re still in their late 30s.

  2. Ann says:

    They always use Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren as examples but where’s the rest?

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Both of whom have commented in the past on limited roles for women.

    • bettyrose says:

      This reminds me of a saying in academia, where people are quick to argue it’s not true that there are no women in the literary canon: There’s Jane Austen, so you girls are totally represented.

      • Anne tommy says:

        (This is in the wrong place, it’s in reply to Grant, apologies, pretend it’s Memento And work backwards) imelda has done Vera Drake and maybe Oscar nom for pride this Year. Emma T was great in last chance Harvey with dustin Hoffman. and depp’s been in some notable cr@ap / flops. Not saying it’s blockbusters, but some good Stuff. Viola Davis and octavia spencer too. The Sarandon role Was daft but that’s not the Point. Renee’s was a Dignified role in thor/ avengers. The Silly Kate Hudson / Mila kunis/ Cameron Diaz roles are just as bad. There are exceptions, In terms Of younger actresses, Emma stone and one of CB least faves, Scarjo, who may have pranced around in a cat suit in the avengers but was great in Lucy and under the skin. And Tilda got to sh@ag Tom, who is 20 years younger, in OLLA. As an older Woman, it’s not all about age. Sorry for random caps, dunno what’s Going on.

      • Bridget says:

        @Anne Tommy: those are some notable, awarded actresses, and yet have people actually watched most of those movies? The comment that you’re replying to (I checked) was stating that neither women had done much *of note*… and its not like Last Chance Harvey is going to be on the tip of someone’s tongue.

    • Anne tommy says:

      There are a few more – Emma Thompson, Tilda Swinton, imelda Staunton, judi Dench, Susan Sarandon, Renee Russo spring to mind- but that doesn’t invalidate the argument, I think the way all woman tend to be Portrayed in hollywood is a problem frankly. At the risk of being unpopular, I have a Soft spot for Russell, saw him a few months ago at the Noah premiere, he Looked pretty fresh And quite dapper despite his rep for being a bit of a boozer.

      • Grant says:

        Rene Russo has had two roles in the past decade. Susan Sarandon played Melissa McCarthy’s grandmother in Tammy but other than that, the glory days of the 90s are over for her. What has Imelda Staunton done that’s on the same scale as something Russell, Johnny Depp, or any other older male actor has done? Emma Thompson’s role in Saving Mr. Banks is the only noteworthy role she’s had in almost a decade.

      • deehunny says:

        There was coverage on this website where a middle aged actress basically said there are very limited amount of roles for women who are middle aged and older and they always go to the same women– helen mirren, meryl streep, judy dench, etc. Literally that’s it. I thought that good old Rusty reinforced her point… Gosh, who was it who said that? I can’t remember.

      • Carrie says:

        Grant- Emma Thompson also played Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies. I don’t even remember Saving Mr. Banks. But yeah in general there are very few good roles for women past 40. It’s not that the problem is playing somebody’s mother, it’s that those roles are riddled with stereotypes and are generally bottom barrel ie: Monster In Law.

    • lucy2 says:

      Exactly. That’s like saying the music industry is hugely profitable for everyone because hey, Taylor Swift and U2 raked in millions, so everyone must be doing great!
      You can’t use the two exceptions to the rule for that argument, Russell.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I don’t want to get into the position of defending hollywood, far from it. But there Are mature women out there doing good stuff and it shouldn’t be ignored
        Because it’s not in the multiplexes. No one considers Megan fox a great actress cos she’s been in some of the biggest grossing films of all time. And many of the older men’s roles are rubbish too, Harrison ford being an example. Maybe they choose not to pursue more interesting roles but it’s not all about the high Profile Big bucks stuff. I think that in many ways hollywood reflects society’s views Rather than promotes a particular attitude towards older women- the embarrassing older women who’s still interested in sex- oh the horror – the game old bird, the silly old bag, the sweet old lady. But hollywood is all stereotypes.

  3. Belle Epoch says:

    Well, of course Meryl has work! She’s incredible. I’m sure all ten meetings that called for an older actress started with “let’s get Meryl Streep.”

  4. scarf girl says:

    Can we have a moratorium on aging male actors/writers commenting on women’s issues for Christmas? Can that happen Santa?

    • Po says:

      Maybe if we all wish together, Santa will grant us all this one gift.

    • Abbicci says:

      Yeah, like a fat white man with elves as slaves will consider upsetting the status quo that keeps his winter wonderland tax and feminist free.

  5. Mia4S says:

    Well he is friends with Nicole Kidman, and she’s certainly a prime example of still wanting to play the ingenue (Princess Grace? Cold Mountain?!?!)…

    No he’s definitely dumb. Show me the female roles as good and meaty as There Will Be Blood, or Walt on Breaking Bad, or he’ll even a female superhero as full as Batman or Iron Man (don’t say Black Widow, that’s crap, she’s not even close). There’s a long way to go yet.

    • Delueth says:

      Can I just remind you that this is the man who played Robin Hood aged a very rough looking 46 years old? ROBIN. HOOD.

      Atleast Nicole “tries” to look the age she is playing. What a dbag he is!

  6. Tateru says:

    Christian Bale “I had really stupid answers to questions when I was promoting Exodus, Russ.”
    Russell Crowe “I can top that, Christian. Here watch. Hold my beer”

  7. Luv2be says:

    Well, I have to disagree with Mr. Crowe, because he’s no longer leading man material! After Gladiator, which I loved, BTW, it was kinda down hill. So, please shush, Mr. Crowe! Silence your opinions until the real actresses for whom this post is directed can voice their own…oh wait, I’m sorry. They’re too busy working! My apologies, Dame Judy!

  8. perplexed says:

    Is he creating roles for older women in his new movie?

  9. Lilacflowers says:

    I would reach for the ball gags but then again, why bother? It’s not as if he’s kept himself pretty for me, is it?

  10. jinni says:

    Can he name 10 actresses in Meryl and Helen’s age range that regularly get work in mainstream movies? I doubt it. Hell, you can’t even name 10 actresses that are in their range that get regular work even if you include indie movies?
    Meryl and Helen are outliers, they aren’t the norm so he and others need to stop pointing to them as these great example of how easy it is to get work as an older actress. Also, guess what, when most of the female parts are ingenue roles what exactly do you expect for most actress to play. If screenwriters aren’t writing meaty older roles for older women where are these age appropriate roles supposed to come from? Plus, most younger actresses don’t want the ingenue roles because most of the time those roles are just slightly better written tits and ass parts that are only there to facilitate the story of the main male role, which is why you have young actresses like JLaw snatching up roles that are actually made for women in their 30-40’s (American Hustle, Silver Lining, Serena, and up coming movie Joy were she suppose to play a mother of three) because most roles in her age range are crap. The fact that she and other actresses are doing this is also hurting older actresses.

    He is so delusional.

    • perplexed says:

      Can someone ask him about the good parts for older women going to Jennifer Lawrence?

      • bettyrose says:

        I like JLaw, but I wonder if she’s going to regret taking older parts too early when she’s no longer considered for younger roles.

      • Dany says:

        she gets these roles because she is the hyped it-girl. Sad thing is a new, younger actresses will replace her in a few years. Jen takes roles from older ones and younger ones will take roles from Jen when she gets older and loses “her young goofiness”. IMO Jen is now on her zenith and her career from now on will suffer from the young fame.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Even Jessica Lange and Glenn Close have moved to television. They can’t get good film roles on a regular basis. Amy Madigan, Belinda Montgomery, Elizabeth Perkins, Daryl Hannah, Kristen Scott Thomas, Marisa Tomei, Laura Linney, Bridget Fonda, Hope Davis, Rosie Perez, Michelle Pfeiffer – all seemed to have moved beyond seeking ingenue roles and none seem to work in film with any regularity.

      • jinni says:

        And I think that is one of the reasons why t.v. is becoming more superior to movies when it comes to acting. The roles are just more complex all across the board.
        The only way for actresses to survive is to take on a more English approach to one’s career. Which is to take any work you can get whether it be in a movie, on a t.v. show/mini-series, or on the stage and all that should matter is the quality of the work not the medium that said work reaches the audience.

      • Xavi says:

        Am I the only one who thought this was aimed at Meg Ryan?

      • Bullseye says:

        @jinni totally agree. TV has some great stuff for women. Though I do want to see Wild…

    • inthekitchen says:

      Excellent point about roles for older women going to women in their 20s!!!

    • LAK says:

      Not to be snarky, but I really thought about your question vis a vis older actresses still getting frontline roles which don’t require them to be ingenues……here is the list I came up with……

      Judy Dench
      Helen Mirren
      Meryl Streep
      Maggie Smith
      Sigourney Weaver (usually hired by James Cameron)
      Susan Sarandon
      Kristin Scott thomas (though she’s doing more theatre)
      Annette Benning
      Charlotte Rampling
      Eileen Atkins
      Emma Thompson
      Glenn Close (though she’s doing more TV)
      Julianne Moore

      Ps: there are many English and French older actresses who are doing well, but in non hollywood films.

      Not sure despite their star power, talent questionable.

      Sandra Bullock
      Julia Roberts

      Honorees (still young, but I don’t think they’ll struggle later on)
      Kate Winslet
      Cate Blanchett
      Rachel Weisz

      I think Nicole Kidman, who hasn’t had a hit film except for 2 films during her TC divorce and still looks for ingenue roles will really struggle.

      • Kim1 says:

        It would be nice if a few of the actresses were Black,Latina,Asian,etc but that is asking for too much I suppose.

      • md1979 says:

        Totally agree. But, at least Octavia Spencer and Viola David received Oscar noms in the past few years.

      • LAK says:

        Kim1: personally I mourn Angela Bassett’s career.

        In terms of Asian actresses, michelle Yeoh (age 52) is still in great demand, but you won’t see her in anything decent Hollywood is putting out.

  11. kim says:

    I don’t know what is really going on in hollywood, so i don’t want to give hands to Russell Crowe, But everytime I see Reese Witherspoon complaining how lack of roles can kill actresses, I feel like ‘Is it?’ ‘Is it not you, really?’

  12. perplexed says:

    Wrong spot. Delete.

  13. Sarah says:

    Whatever great roles there are for older women are already being acted by Meryl, Helen, or Judy Dench.
    If the actresses in Hollywood were aging into thick old pork chops like Russell, they’d never work again, meanwhile, he continues to get enough work to give him a platform to show his ignorance.

  14. inthekitchen says:

    He is just blind and/or stupid.

    The problem (or one of them) – which I feel like he isn’t getting – is that he is still being cast as the lead/action hero (Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, anyone?!) and then the actress cast to play his wife is 25 years old!! Why doesn’t he insist on the wife characters being cast opposite him to actually be his age as well? That would be a start.

    I also don’t think older female actors want to be cast as the ingenue, they want meaty, interesting, serious or funny roles…just like the older men are getting.

    • Jayna says:

      For Liam Neeson, he actually has been getting parts that were never written for his age. Most of his roles lately have all been written for much, much younger actors and rewritten to cast him since he’s gained such popularity. So they re-think his age and take him because he is now box office gold, but they aren’t going to change the actresses to being older than late 30s for some of those movies. Although, he doesn’t really have love interests in most of his recent movies in the last seven to ten years, except The Unknown with January Jones. The A Team, no love interest. The Grey, no love interest. Non-Stop, no love interest, but Julianne Moore was the lead female part in the movie. A Walk Among the Tombstones, no love interest. His One Person movie that bombed did have a younger love interest, but that was the story line, an aging famous book author who has become a has been and turning to a screwed-u younger woman who idolized him to feed his ego. An affair with a young screwed-up protege. His wife was his age, Kim Basinger.

      At least, in Taken, Taken 2 and now Taken 3, his ex-wife is Famke Janssen, who is how 50 to his 61. She was still younger than him, but at least it wasn’t a woman in her early 30s like usual. And he has done several movies with the amazing Laura Linney, who is 50, not 25 years younger than him.

      I will always remember how when Clint Eastwood did Bridges of Madison County, they wanted him to cast a younger actress. He fought for Meryl Streep, who was probably in her early 40s at the time. And the studio thought she was too old. LOL

      • bettyrose says:

        A tedious movie based on a dull book, but the character was in her 40s, so casting a younger actress would have missed what small point there was to the plot.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I think will smith and the lovely margot Robbie are the latest older man and hot chick combo In some film. I have always found will smith a total turnoff in every way anyhow, so am probably not best placed to assess whether he’s getting more or – if possible – less attractive as he gets Older.

  15. Tippy says:

    It’s all supply and demand and all actors need to eventually adapt to roles that need to be filled.

    Isabella Rossellini probably forced an older actress to the background early on in her career. JLaw and other young actresses realize that their tenure as leading ladies can end abruptly and try to make the most of their prime.

    I think that actresses are more apt to retire than accept lesser roles or because they become disenchanted with Hollywood. I always assumed that actresses like Debra Winger or Ally Sheedy would be around forever but just suddenly disappear.

  16. EM says:

    Russell makes a good point, an obvious point. But I think the primary reason Isabella Rossellini hasn’t received that much work is more obvious. As much as she may whinge about not getting roles, she was never a good actress to begin with.
    Sigourney Weaver gets roles, not sure if she is really that fantastic (to play Queen Tuya?). Meryl Streep is a great actress. Helen Mirren is probably more famous later in life than what she was in her early twenties. What about Dame Maggie Smith? It all depends on the stories and characters as well. Look at GoT and how it brought back Diana Rigg. Then there is Isabella Adjani and now, in the next Bond, we’ll be seeing Monica Belluci who is an older actress.

    • Jayna says:

      I think actresses as they age in other countries are revered and continue working in interesting roles more so than America.

      The actresses in America that have overdone the plastic surgery ended their careers. The talented ones like Julianne Moore and Susan Sarandon continue to work, but the roles for the most part are not juicy roles with really fleshed-out characters like I have seen for older actresses in England.

      Meryl Streep is a rarity, and even then, I have seen her in a lot of lackluster movies; whereas when in her 30s and 40s, I found her to be in more interesting parts than she’s been doing in the last five or six years, but at least she’s getting movies.

      • lucy2 says:

        “The talented ones like Julianne Moore and Susan Sarandon continue to work”
        And most of their roles are in small, independent films, or supporting roles in bigger moives. The studios aren’t willing to put money out for their films, but they’ll sink $150 million into Russell Crowe building an ark, despite him not having a big hit or great role in years.

  17. Kate says:

    Yeah ok Crowe. Can’t wait to see your next movie where your wife is 10 years your junior. ::rolls eyes:::

  18. Blythe says:

    There are good roles, but they are given to only a small pool of actresses.

  19. Santolina says:

    He’s always been a simple-minded throwback to the dark ages who never got a proper education and surrounds himself with ‘yes’ men. If anyone disagrees with him he kicks them to the curb or blocks them. He’s a testosterone-fueled control freak, and I’m not surprised that he doesn’t acknowledge the plight of modern-day professional women.

  20. lunchcoma says:

    I find this argument so tiring. Yes, there are a handful of decent roles available to older women, enough so that a few of the best actresses will be able to get them. There are vastly fewer of them in comparison to the number of substantive roles available to older actors.

  21. NcSark says:

    Oh, Russell. You are such a wang sometimes with your comments but you still make my lady bits turn on, even when you’re chubbing out between films. If we ever have a chance encounter, the first thing I’ll say to you is, “Shhh….don’t talk, Rusty, just don’t talk….”

    • Santolina says:

      Exacty! “Shaddap, Maximus!” He is a fine actor. Unfortunately, he slides by on people thinking he’s like his noble characters, but he’s not — he’s petty, thin-skinned and arrogant. The day he realizes that “turn the other cheek” is better than “an eye for an eye” will be the day I start respecting him as a person.

  22. xenalovesthor says:

    Such a male centric, very near sighted view.
    He has no idea what he’s talking about. The roles unfortunately for women as they age in Hollywood are relegated to the mother of the new ingenue, the dried up, washed up, has been whatever.
    thank goodness for the Meryl’s of the world or we may not have writers actually striving to write more complex female leads in the hopes that they can snag a winner like Meryl to give their film depth.
    Shut up Russell!

  23. Michelle says:

    It’s also a myth that Russel Crowe is tall and intellgent….

  24. PoliteTia says:

    Mr. Crowe truly needs a wake-up call! Only about 30% of dialog go to women in any given film if she are not the lead. Mr. Crowe knows this. He has worked on enough films only to see lines taken away from actresses and given to male counter part, in spite if how the original script was written.
    Even, Angela Jolie has moved behind the camera. There is too much pressure on older actress to alter their looks as they age, Renee Zegweiller, who looks awful, in the pursuit to look 30ish.
    Crowe, Clooney, DiCaprio, and Pitt have seen their day and then some. On the other hand Sean Connery aged like a fine wine.

  25. miriam says:

    Typical male perspective. Blame the women and not the system.

  26. Allons-y Alonso says:

    UGH!!!!! It sounds like Russel Crowe and Australian PM Tony Abbott have in depth conversations together about what they think about women……. SIT THE F**K DOWN

  27. Jaded says:

    What a wanker…he should be thanking his lucky stars that he’s still getting movie roles despite the fact that he lets himself become a flabby, beer-sodden, blow-hard between films. Any actress of his age who let herself go that way would not get another chance.

  28. Bridget says:

    Well if Russel Crowe says so, argument over.
    Glad we got that cleared up!

  29. ch2 says:

    what the….??? Good lord! Have enough sense to at least shut the **** up…

  30. Sunnyjyl says:


  31. MissTrial says:

    Javert’s Soliloquy remix.

  32. Amberica says:

    I do kind of see the argument that too many women in Hollywood try to keep their face young and that hurts their careers (Goldie Hawn?). But that’s not really an excuse for the huge disparity in roles for men and women after 40.

  33. Honestly says:

    Honestly, I don’t know why he gets roles. I’m Aussie and he’s just the biggest, most bad tempered bogan out there. Yes, he had a certain something in some of his big roles (such as Gladiator) but he’s rude, ill mannered, and can’t admit he’s awful at accents.