Geena Davis denied the role because leading man said she was ‘too old’ – was 20 YEARS younger than him

Geena Davis has spoken out against ageism in Hollywood, revealing that she was once rejected for a role because the lead man in the film said she was ‘too old’ to play his love interest – even though she was 20 years younger than him.

The Oscar-winning actress, now 65, recently chatted with Allison Kugel for the latest episode of her podcast, Allison Interviews, while opening up about the old age and sexism she has been exposed to in the industry over the years.

“It’s very strange and so prevalent,” she explained. ‘A certain male actor who made a film said I was too old to be his romantic interest and I was 20 years younger than him.

‘You know what it is? Women top in the 20s and 30s, and men tops in the 40s and 50s in terms of actors.

So the male stars in the movies want to appear younger than they are or they will appeal to younger people so they will always have a co-star who is really young.

‘That’s why it happens, and that’s why women are not thrown out very much after 40 and 50. That’s because they are perceived as too old to be a romantic interest.’

Geena Davis (seen in August 2021), 65, has spoken out about old age in Hollywood, revealing that she was once denied a role because a male star said she was 'too old' to play his love interest

Geena Davis (seen in August 2021), 65, has spoken out about old age in Hollywood, revealing that she was once denied a role because a male star said she was ‘too old’ to play his love interest

The Thelma & Louise star also claimed that her 1989 Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress led directors to treat her differently,

The Thelma & Louise star also claimed that her 1989 Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress led directors to treat her differently,

According to the star (the picture of a rare outing in November 2021), women over the age of 50 are almost never cast in movies and TV series, and when they are, it is often to a 'minor role'

According to the star (the picture of a rare outing in November 2021), women over the age of 50 are almost never cast in movies and TV series, and when they are, it is often to a ‘minor role’

According to the star, women over the age of 50 are almost never cast in movies and TV series, and when they are, it is often to a ‘minor role’.

She claimed that people aged 50 and over make up only 20 percent of the characters we see on screen – and women are only a quarter of them.

Geena did not name the actress in question, nor did she share which film she was working on when the conversation took place, but she has played the love interest on screen for many of Hollywood’s most famous male actors over the years – several of whom were younger than her when she appeared with them.

She was famous as Alec Baldwin’s partner on screen in the 1988 film Beetlejuice, when she was two years older than her co-star, and when her character enjoyed a brief romance with Brad Pitt in the 1991 hit Thelma & Louise, she was seven years older than the then heartbreaker.

In 1992, she starred alongside Dustin Hoffman – who is 19 years older than her – in the film Hero, but she did not play his love interest in the film.

Geena also revealed how she was treated differently on set after winning her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the 1988 film The Accidental Tourist, claiming that it was ‘assumed’ that she would ‘think she was everything’ it ‘after her victory – something she thought would not have happened to her if she were a man.

‘I had two directors after I won the Oscar that I had a bad start with because they assumed I would think I was all that and they would make sure I did not feel like I was all that , ‘ she said.

Geena (pictured in 2020) said she was once fired from a movie after the male star, who was 20 years older than her, said he wanted a younger one to play his girlfriend

Geena (pictured in 2020) said she was once fired from a movie after the male star, who was 20 years older than her, said he wanted a younger one to play his girlfriend

The actress has starred opposite some of the industry's most famous leading men, including Dustin Hoffman, with whom she appeared in the 1992 film Hero (pictured)

The actress has starred opposite some of the industry’s most famous leading men, including Dustin Hoffman, with whom she appeared in the 1992 film Hero (pictured)

In the hit film Thelma & Louise from 1991, she enjoyed a brief romance on screen with a then-coming Brad Pitt (pictured), who is seven years younger than her

In the hit film Thelma & Louise from 1991, she enjoyed a brief romance on screen with a then-coming Brad Pitt (pictured), who is seven years younger than her

“Without having met me or having spent any time with me or anything, they just assumed I would say, ‘Well, now no one wants to tell me what to do.’

‘I think maybe because I was a woman, the instructors felt that way. And maybe it was even the unconscious bias that they would do it to a woman and not a man.

‘But they did not want a woman to potentially cause them problems. They wanted to make sure I knew my place, and that would probably not happen to a man. “

Throughout her career, the 65-year-old said she always had a very ‘increased awareness’ of sexism in the industry, but it really came to mind when she saw a children’s program with her then two-year-old daughter 17 years ago, and put notice the strongly starred men over women.

Determined to make a change, she then started the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in 2004.

Through the institute, she collects data on female roles and brings them directly to production companies in hopes of opening their eyes to the bias in Hollywood.

“I found out that no one else in Hollywood seemed to recognize what I was seeing,” she recalled. ‘There were lots of creators who said,’ No, it’s not a problem anymore, it’s been fixed. ‘

‘People in Hollywood are still resistant to the idea, even though my institute found that films starring women in 2017 and 2018 made more money than films with men.

‘There have been blockbusters after blockbusters starring women, and it’s time [Hollywood] get with the program. ‘

One of Geena’s female role models is Susan Sarandon, who starred in Thelma & Louise with her in 1991.

Throughout her career, the 65-year-old said she always had a very 'increased awareness' of sexism in the industry.  She is pictured in Beetlejuice in 1988

Throughout her career, the 65-year-old said she always had a very ‘increased awareness’ of sexism in the industry. She is pictured in Beetlejuice in 1988

One of Geena's female role models is Susan Sarandon, who starred in Thelma & Louise with her in 1991. They are depicted in the film

One of Geena’s female role models is Susan Sarandon, who starred in Thelma & Louise with her in 1991. They are depicted in the film

“Getting to work with Susan Sarandon at Thelma & Louise, she had the biggest impact of any person in my life because I had never really spent time with a woman who moves through the world the way she does,” revealed Geena.

‘It sounds crazy to be 33 years old at the time and first experience a woman who did not start everything with: “Well, I do not know what you want to think, and it’s probably a stupid idea, but …” She just lived his life and said, “This is what I think.”

‘[It was received by our director and producers] as completely normal, which was also great for me.

‘The way I was brought up was to be extremely polite, to make a mistake. I was kind of trained not to ask for things and not to be a nuisance to anyone, but she obviously was not.

“So she just said the things that she would say them, like ‘Let’s cut this line,’ or ‘Let’s do it this way,’ or ‘That’s what I want to do.’

‘There was no reaction from anyone, such as “Wow!” partly because she did not present herself as combative.

“She was always like, ‘This is what I want,’ and ‘This is what I think.’

Geena, who has three children – a daughter named Alizeh Keshvar Davis Jarrahy, 19, and two sons named Kaiis Steven Jarrahy and Kian William Jarrahy, both 17 – is determined to raise them as feminists.

“That’s why I started the whole institute,” she explained. ‘I realized when I saw the very first children’s TV show with her, I thought,’ Oh no. Children are brought up from minute one to accept that men and boys are more important than women and girls. ‘

‘I can not stop her from growing up knowing that women are considered second-class citizens, but I will do everything I can to change that for her.

Geena said Susan 'just wanted to say things the way she wanted to say them, e.g. "Let's cut this line," or "Let's do it this way," or "That's what I want to do"'

Geena said Susan ‘just wanted to say things the way she wanted to say them, e.g. “Let’s cut this line” or “Let’s do it this way” or “This is what I want to do” ‘

Geena has three children - a daughter named Alizeh, 19, and two sons named Kaiis and Kian, both 17 - and she is determined to raise them as feminists.  They are pictured in 2017

Geena has three children – a daughter named Alizeh, 19, and two sons named Kaiis and Kian, both 17 – and she is determined to raise them as feminists. They are pictured in 2017

‘With her and with my boys, I did the same. I always saw [TV] with them. No matter what my boys saw, I would say, “Did you know there’s only one girl in that whole movie? Did you notice that?”

Or, “Do you think girls can do what the boys do?” Or, “Why do you think she’s wearing it if she’s going to rescue someone? Do not you think that’s weird?” They became very knowledgeable. Then they started noticing things before I did. ‘

She concluded: ‘It’s not just for women we need to show more women on screen.

“My goal is to make the fictional world reflect our actual culture, which is 50 percent women and 40 percent colored and 20 percent people with different abilities.

’40 percent are heavy body types. And the representation of people with different gender identities is so infinitely small that it is barely registered.

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