News and Commentary

Actress Emma Thompson Rips Movies That Make Women ‘Be Like The Men’: ‘Why Are There No Films About Giving Birth, For Crying Out Loud?’
Emma Thompson attends the UK film premiere of 'Last Christmas' at the BFI Southbank on 11 November 2019 in London, England.
WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Academy Award-winning actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson criticized the prevailing trend in movies of making women act like men.

Speaking on CultureBlast podcast, the former “Love Actually” star said that it’s not “good enough” to simply give a woman a gun and have her act like a man, even going so far as to say that movies should utilize a women’s feminity as a source of her heroism.

“So all the women screenwriters I talk to, I say, ‘Well, what’s the story?’ Because it’s not good enough simply to give the women the guns, and then make the women badass, as well,” said Thompson. “Now women have to be badass — if they’re feminine in the way that they used to be, and they’re not badass, then they’re not welcome. Also, they’re not allowed to cry, apparently, anymore, because we’ve just got to be like the men.”

Thompson said that screenwriters and directors need to explore the feminine to find the heroism inherent with it, such as giving birth.

“And I remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s not what we meant,’” the actress continued. “When I got a group of women together in my thirties, and I said, ‘Okay, what’s the female heroine? Who is that? What does she do?’ Because she hasn’t got the wherewithal to do the Superman, to do the Godfather, that’s not the point. That’s not where our heroism lies. So how do we make it heroic?”

“Why are there no films about giving birth, for crying out loud?” she added. “Does anyone even know about that? No. No. It’s all hidden. All our heroism is hidden, because what we’ve done is we’ve just given women the same parts as men, and that’s not the point. How do we turn into our own lives and make those stories heroic?”

Thompson believed the problem could be “solved” if there were more women writers and women directors.

In the same interview, Thompson also lamented how Hollywood often forgets about women once they pass the age of 50.

“Going back to some of the roles that were offered to you, I remember you saying [it] somewhere that after ‘Nanny McPhee,’ you were getting these roles, like, to play Bradley Cooper’s mother, and also to play Mother Theresa. Playing Mother Theresa would’ve put a tin lid on your career. I mean … you’re a woman in your 50s and you are asked to play a woman, I guess she was in her 80s when we lost her,” said the interviewer. “What does that say about the misogyny and the ageism?”

“It says exactly what it says: you get past 50, and you’re invisible,” she said. “But you know, it’s very interesting, this woman I’m about to play, one of the things that she says to this young man — he says, ‘You’re perfectly [attractive], why can’t you find another chap?’ [And she says], ‘Because the only people willing to sleep with me are people my age, and I don’t want to sleep with — I want to sleep with someone younger than me.’”

“Now, I’ve never heard a woman say that on-screen,” she continued. “It’s completely acceptable for George Clooney — who is delightful, as you say — to have someone who’s 40 years younger than him or 30 years younger than him. If I have someone playing opposite me in a romantic way, they’d have to exhume someone, because I’m 61 now. Do you see what I mean? It’s completely and utterly unbalanced. And that’s gonna take a long time.”

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