Marisa Tomei on playing moms: ‘I really regret starting down this road’

2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Gala - Arrivals.

I remember, years ago, reading an interview with Marisa Tomei and she just came across as one of the coolest women ever. Not in a “Cool Girl” way, but in a “she genuinely DGAF what you think” way. I remember she was chatting about picking up guys at Fleet Week in New York (when all the sailors port) and how she has a huge group of girlfriends, and she was too busy and having too much fun to settle down. But something happened – Marisa got to that age where she began to get tons of scripts and offers to play “the mom” or “the mother figure.” And she started to take a few of those roles and now those are the only scripts she gets. She chatted with Collider about playing Pete Davidson’s mom in The King of Staten Island, and playing Aunt May in Spider-Man and all that. Some highlights:

On playing moms/mom-figures now: “I really regret starting down this road and I really regret starting to do that. I was, you know, talked into it – not this, but I mean just that change – and I really always felt like, ‘Oh, I could play a lot of things.’ Honestly, it’s probably more of a stretch than other things. [Laughs] But, it’s – yeah, I guess I said it all.”

Why she agreed to start playing mom roles: “I think every actor and actress has a lot of dimensions to them and if the scope of what is being written and being made is narrow, and you want to keep working, you do what you can. I mean, I do. I tried it. It was maybe not the right road, but you know, I do try to make the most of it.”

What kinds of roles she would prefer: “I mean, even genres that I would love to be in, you know? The femme fatale, and in a noir. I still think there are other aspects of even romantic comedies. I really love them, but you know really at a screwball level. There’s so many, many – the breadth of as much as women are, there’s so many roles.”

[From Collider]

Now I feel bad for her. I mean, yes, she’s playing a “MILF” for a lot of teenage boys’ fantasies, but it must be the absolute worst to want to work and then she ended up getting typecast in mom roles. And she’s right – she’s a gifted comedienne and a great romantic lead, and a great actress overall. It’s Hollywood’s issue – they can’t see a hot 50-something woman as anything other than a Hot Mom. Also: did you know that Marisa is 55 years old? Jesus Christ. Replace all of the Columbus statues with statues of Marisa Tomei.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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33 Responses to “Marisa Tomei on playing moms: ‘I really regret starting down this road’”

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  1. Eleonor says:

    Awful this is such a typecast Hollywood glues on women and I think getting out it’s difficult if not impossible.

  2. Michael says:

    When you only have one demographic dominating behind the scenes you get output that reflects the views of that one demographic. One of those is a woman who is not of childbearing age is no longer “desirable” Clearly Marisa is still as hot as she ever was but hot at 55 means nothing. You have to be hot and 25 in Hollywood

    • Prayer Warrior says:

      Because a 25 year old is easier to manipulate – and to pay less – than a 55 yo woman is? It’s insidious and it’s everywhere…@Michael you are so very right! There is only one demographic DOMINATING behind the scenes. The white men control the majority of the money in the world. The way this world is set up…money is power…..and power is what makes the world go round. Racism and misogyny is all about power. I’m gonna watch ‘My Cousin Vinny’ in honour of Marissa Tomei who is *not* 55…I can’t believe that!!

  3. Bettyrose says:

    She’s more than hot. She’s friggin adorable! Has she done tv recently? That’s where all the great storylines and parts are now. Screw movies.

  4. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’ve never not loved her lol. My gawd, seems like I’ve been watching her for forever! I’m with you Bettyrose. Frak movies. Give me five to ten in an awesome series!

  5. L84Tea says:

    I’ve loved her ever since the movie “Oscar” (which was pre My Cousin Vinny). She does comedy SO well. If you’ve never seen Oscar, go rent it. She was beyond adorable and kooky.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      I’ve had a love for her since she was on A Different World with Lisa Bonet! She’s great. So talented.

      • H says:

        I can go back further. I loved her on As the World Turns.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Omg! That’s right! Was that around the time Meg Ryan was on ATWT as well? Cuz I remember. Not clear storylines, but I remember! Crikey.

    • Marietta58 says:

      Oh yeah, she played Sylvester Stallone’s daughter! I love that movie!! She was so freakin’ funny it in!

  6. LidiaJara says:

    Forever fave. So criminal that executives are so imaginative, but I like how matter-of-fact she is about it. People think I’m younger than I am because I went to college late and I absolutely go with it. I’m always the only woman at my firm, and it helps. Not proud of that, but it’s a challenging space to navigate.

  7. reef says:

    Are romantic comedies even released anymore? There aren’t a lot of interesting roles for B-list older women. And this is no shade to these women, but Marissa is too attractive for the meatier/quirkier character roles. When those roles arise, they usually go to Mirielle Enos or Felicity Huffman.

    • JJ says:

      Felicity’s spot is probably open now….Although Marisa is probably not bland enough in appearance for those roles.

    • Jenn says:

      Lol, no shade at all, she’s disastrously good-looking. It’s a liability when an actor wants to be taken seriously. I remember turning to my husband and whispering “Matthew McConaughey is finally starting to age. That’s good; he’ll win an Oscar.” Marisa Tomei already has one, too, thank God.

  8. NΞΞNΔ ZΞΞ says:

    It’s depressing that she suggested femme fatale and romantic comedy roles when asked. I’m roughly her age and it’s makes me think she’s sitting around remembering the good old days and wishing she could stop time time. Those are the most typecast roles in Hollywood. I wish she’d said something like action, thriller, horror, police or legal procedural. She’d be great in all of those and would help push more gender boundaries for women.

    • MaryContrary says:

      I agree. I’m about her age too-and I just don’t see those films getting made. I wish she’d find a great project and take it to Netflix or Hulu.

    • AMM says:

      I think that’s just what she’s interested in. I imagine she wants to do sexy or comedy because she’s been great in those roles and shes allowed to be sad that she’s been deemed to old for her interests. Her talents still there but since she hit 50, she’s not allowed to play the part anymore. Maybe she just doesn’t enjoy making horror or action films.

    • Still_Sarah says:

      She had an amazing role in season 2 of the Handmaid’s Tale as a commander’s wife (one of the elite) who had been sentEnded to “the colonies” (a contaminated wasteland so toxic that Gilead’s female prisoners of conscience died within 1-2 months of arrival). Her role was fascinating because she had been condemned for some crime against the oppressive state but her character refused to admit Gilead had betrayed her. It was a great episode. For possible future roles, I would like her to do something like the great Vanessa Redgrave who played an arms dealer in a Mission Impossible movie.

  9. Ang says:

    I think it’s funny that no one mentioned the fact that she’s getting mom roles and she doesn’t even have children in real life. Why is no one giving her all the shit they give other childless actresses? Interesting.

  10. Lanie says:

    Goldie Hawn’s character in The First Wives Club put this so succinctly:

    “There are only three ages for women: Babe, District Attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy.”

  11. LeaTheFrench says:

    What a waste of an incredibly talented actress. I’ve been watching a lot of Scandinavian noir on Netflix during quarantine because they offer women “over a certain age” (like, 25) rich, multi-faceted, interesting roles. Not just any role, mind you: the lead role. And these women look like multidimensional human beings – not some tired stereotypes. Come on, Hollywood. There’s demand for better scripts, better roles for women, for nuance and complexity.

    • nextlevel says:

      I love Scandinavian noir! What shows on Netflix have you watched? I’ve watched a bunch but maybe I’m missing a few.

    • Jenn says:

      Yes, give us your watchlist! I’ve only seen season 1 of Jordskott but wow!!

  12. Stacy Dresden says:

    Love her!!! I would be way into a noir film starring her or frankly any other film. She is so correct and I hate that we are at the mercy of these unimaginative fools who run Hollywood.

  13. Siul says:

    She’s a great actress. But it just shows how restrictive Hollywood is towards older women. I think the best alternative platform would be Netflix, Hulu, etc. More of their content is 100% better than the awful stuff Hollywood puts out.

  14. Natasha says:

    I like her and Christian Slater together, if they did a new movie I’d watch it no matter what it was about.

  15. Queen Meghan's Hand says:

    Has anyone watched, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead? She was so good! It’s about or almost 10 years old and a younger actress could not have played that role of a flailing trophy wife.

    Hopefully this interview catches the attention of a producer who will remember how good she is and push her for a non-”mom” role. But writing that seems so gross.

    What frustrates me is that most women are moms and have complicated (COMPLICATED) emotional and interior lives–why are the “mom” roles for actresses so one-note? It’s been so ingrained by the films and episodic content that “mom” equates to sexless, boring character.

  16. Nev says:

    I loved her in Only You with RDJ. Soooo nice.

  17. Shirley says:

    Does anyone remember her in Seinfeld?
    She was so funny!! She really is a great actress.

  18. Milkweed says:

    She was great in The King of Staten Island. She elevated Pete Davidson and Bill Burr.

  19. Marigold says:

    The woman owns an Oscar, for crying out loud, and the camera still loves her.

    It’s like Regina King. That woman is a goddess, too, but it’s like she got to 45 and they consigned her to her (marvelous) voice work. I want more of her, and I want more of Marisa Tomei.

    I’m with other people that say TV is the way to go. Lots of actresses over 40 could headline a television show. The UK has proven that over and over again. I mean, my God, have you SEEN Happy Valley? That show is incredible, and it stars a middle-aged woman who is just average in about every way imaginable…and that’s what makes her perfect. Great Britain figured out that putting normal-looking people over the age of 30 on television still captivates the audience a long time ago, and it’s frankly why they’re kicking Hollywood’s hind end.

    There is no reason whatsoever to shun actresses of incredible talent to “mom” or “annoying next-door neighbor” once they’ve got 40 candles on their cake.