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At 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal told she is 'too old' to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man

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Maggie Gyllenhaal has provided yet more proof that Hollywood is rife with the depressing stench of sexism.

The Oscar-nominated actress has revealed that she was recently turned down for a film role because at 37, she was deemed "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. 

"There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time," she says, in an interview for an upcoming issue of TheWrap Magazine.

 "I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

She declined to name the movie in question. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal and her husband Peter Sarsgaard

Maggie Gyllenhaal and her husband Peter Sarsgaard

Gyllenhaal is one of a number of female leads to call out the Hollywood powers that be for sexism and ageism in recent months, as the studios fall under increased scrutiny for gender discrimination.

With dismal numbers of women in lead or directing roles (a 2013 study found women take just 28% of speaking parts in film), the American Civil Liberties Union recently put in a formal request for federal agencies to investigate Hollywood over "overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias".

Just last month, comedian Amy Schumer produced a brilliant - and scathing - critique of ageism in Hollywood, in a hilarious video co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette.

In February, Arquette used her Oscars acceptance speech for Boyhood to launch a rallying call for wage equality in Hollywood and beyond, as those in the audience - including Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez - whooped and cheered her on. 

And Twilight star Kristen Stewart is the latest name to join the cause, branding Hollywood "disgustingly sexist".

"Women inevitably have to work a little bit harder to be heard," she told Harper's Bazaar. "It's crazy. It's so offensive it's crazy."

Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez cheering on Patricia Arquette's plea for equality at the Oscars

Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez cheering on Patricia Arquette's plea for equality at the Oscars

At the beginning of this year, Gladiator star Russell Crowe came under fire for suggesting that older women should stop trying to "play the ingénue" in films.

"To be honest, I think you'll find that the woman who is saying that [the roles have dried up] is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she's not being cast as the 21-year-old," Crowe remarked

In this latest interview, Gyllenhaal - who is currently receiving a lot of attention for her role as an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman in BBC mini-series The Honourable Woman - says that despite being discriminated against, she is hopeful for the future of women in the industry.

"A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women,” says Gyllenhaal, who won a Golden Globe in January for her performance in The Honourable Woman

"I don’t feel despairing at all. And I’m more looking with hope for something fascinating."

Maggie in BBC mini-series The Honourable Woman

Maggie in BBC mini-series The Honourable Woman

Photos: Rex Features

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