Emma Thompson criticizes 'utterly unbalanced' movie romances between men and women

Rachel Yang
·3 min read

A24

Emma Thompson is calling out a double standard in Hollywood, questioning why it's so common for older men in films to be with women half their age, when the reverse is rarely shown.

"It’s completely acceptable for George Clooney – who is delightful – to have someone who is 40 years younger than him or 30 years younger than him," she said on the podcast CultureBlast. "If I have someone playing opposite me in a romantic way, they have to exhume someone, because I’m 61 now. Do you see what I mean? It’s completely and utterly unbalanced."

The actress also talked about her upcoming movie Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, directed by Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, Animals) in which she plays a 55-year-old widow who hires a sex worker in his early 20s.

"If Leo Grande, the film that we make, speaks to people and people aren’t averse to seeing someone who’s 61 largely naked with a very much younger person, it’s going to be very interesting. We’ve got to keep being brave about that," she added.

The criticism that male actors are frequently paired up with much younger women has been brought up before; In 2018's Phantom Thread, Daniel Day-Lewis was 26 years older than the actress playing his romantic interest. In 2015, Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed she was once rejected for a role opposite a 55-year-old actor because, at 37, she was deemed "too old." Even in the 1942 classic Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart was 43 romancing a 24-year-old Ingrid Bergman. The subject has also made headlines in recent weeks with the release of the Netflix film Mank. In the drama, 62-year-old Gary Oldman stars as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, while his wife Sara is played by 33-year-old Tuppence Middleton. In real life, the pair were the same age.

The Oscar winner has never shied away from talking about sexuality. In 2018, she looked back on her first sex scene for the 1989 film, The Tall Guy, which also starred Jeff Goldblum. Despite the embarrassing nature of the scene — which involved her "arse with bits of toast stuck to it" — the good-natured performer was able to reflect on it fondly.

“Because it was a comedy sex scene, we were shagging on the piano, we were shagging in the breakfast things. There was shots of my arse with bits of toast stuck to it. Two f—ing days of being nude on set," Thompson said while speaking on the popular podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno.

"And when the campaign came out, the Campaign Against Pornography…said that if they were to show their children a sex scene, they would show that one, because it was fun, and funny, and full of humor," she continued. "Because I noticed at the time that all sex scenes, everyone was so angry. They’re angry! You look at people’s faces, you look at Basic Instinct. Sharon Stone…livid! So cross!"

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