Meryl Streep has spoken out in defence of Russell Crowe's provocative comments about women acting their age in Hollywood.
The 65-year-old actress says she agrees with the Gladiator star, who kicked up a storm of protest on social media last week after appearing to suggest 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 an interview with Australian Women's Weekly.
Speaking at a press conference this week to promote her new film, the musical fantasy Into The Woods, Streep backed his assertion, saying: "I agree with him [Crowe]. It’s good to live in the place where you are."
Streep plays a witch in Into The Woods, which is a Disney translation of the Stephen Sondheim musical.
The Oscar-winning star was horrified to be inundated with requests to play witch roles as soon as she turned 40 in 1990. But she said she felt it was now more of an appropriate role for her.
"I felt it was age appropriate. I felt it was time, and it was not time at 40," she said.
"And also, I just had a political sort of reaction against the concept of old women being demonised and age being this horrifying, scary thing. I just didn’t like that. I didn’t like it when I was a little girl, I don’t like it now."
In defence of Crowe, she pointed out that he had adhered to his own standards by claiming that he could not play his iconic Gladiator role now, aged 50.
"I read what he said -- all of what he said," she said. "It's been misappropriated, what he was talking about. He was talking about himself. The journalist asked him, 'Why don’t you do another Gladiator, you know, everybody loved that.' He said, 'I'm too old. I can't be the gladiator anymore. I'm playing parts that are appropriate to my age.' Then the conversation went on to actresses. So that was proving a point, that he was talking about himself, as most actors do. That aside, I agree with him. It's good to live in the place where you are. [...] You can put old age on; it's a lot harder to take it off."
Crowe referenced Streep as a positive role model in his original comments about actresses trying to pursue younger roles.
"Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that's bullshit, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work," he said.
"The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.
"I have heard of an actress, part of her fee negotiation was getting the number of children she was supposed to have lessened. Can you believe this? This (character) was a woman with four children, and there were reasons why she had to have four children – mainly, she lived in a cold climate and there was nothing to do but fornicate all day - so quit arguing, just play the role!"
Watch Streep respond to his comments on age-appropriate roles in the video below.
Photos: Rex Features