Helen Mirren on “outrageous” Hollywood ageism: James Bond gets older and his girlfriends get younger

“It’s f***ing outrageous,” said the actor after Maggie Gyllenhaal was told by a producer that she was too old to play the lover of a 55-year-old man

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Helen Mirren has lashed out at Hollywood ageism, saying it’s “outrageous” that Maggie Gyllenhaal was recently told by a producer that she was too old, at 37, to play the lover of a 55-year-old man.

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“It’s f***ing outrageous,” said 69-year-old Mirren at The Wrap’s annual power breakfast in New York. “It’s ridiculous. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”

She also spoke about being considered a sex symbol, and how that can be limiting for an actor. “I don’t like the word sexual,” she said. “There are people who are sexual, and [others] who are less sexual. But there’s got to be another word. ‘Sexual’ is so limiting.

Mirren’s comments come after Gyllenhaal was turned down for a role in an unspecified movie for being too old. “It was astonishing to me,” the Honourable Woman actor told TheWrap. “It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

This isn’t the first time Mirren, who recently won a Tony award for her portrayal of the Queen in The Audience, has criticised ageism and sexism in the film industry. In an interview with Radio Times earlier this year, the actor criticised male-centric Hollywood.

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“I’ve been lucky, but if you look at any drama it’s still five-to-one men to women. There are a few women in main roles and although it’s changing it’s still difficult for most to earn a living. Many I grew up with are immensely talented yet can’t. It’s much easier for men.”