Forget everything you think you know about film divas. Amid the ongoing revelations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, actresses have been speaking out about how easy it is to be branded ‘difficult’ at work.
Jennifer Lawrence has revealed she was once punished on a film set for standing up to a director who “said something fucked up”.
Speaking as part of the annual Actress Roundtable organised by the Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence recalled her response to the incident with an unnamed director. “I said, ‘That’s sick, you can’t talk to me like that,’ and then I was punished,” says Lawrence. “I got afraid that I wasn’t going to be hired again.”
She says a producer even stepped in and cautioned her after she had stood her ground, telling her: “You know, we can hear you on the microphone, you’ve been really unruly.”
Other women on the panel chimed in, with Emma Stone agreeing that the ‘difficult’ label was one that haunted actresses. “I’m someone who holds in a lot and gets really nervous to speak,” Stone added. “We have to recognise that there are so many who haven’t told their stories yet.”
Lawrence’s comments reveal the enormous power disparity that exists in Hollywood, where even the most successful actresses are being held to different standards than men. In a recent article in the Daily Edge, the writer Amy O’Connor pointed out that the careers of ‘difficult’ women often take a nosedive: it happened to Katherine Heigl after she described the film Knocked Up as sexist and criticised working conditions on Grey’s Anatomy. It happened to Winona Ryder, whose career fell off a cliff after her 2001 shop-lifting conviction, and has only just recovered thanks to her role in Stranger Things.
But lots of women are now stepping up and taking ownership of the ‘difficult’ label.
Every woman who ever expressed an opinion has at one point been called 'difficult'. Be difficult. Always be difficult.— Katie Dawson (@katiedawson23) November 12, 2017
The feminist writer Roxane Gay even made it the title of her book.
Difficult women and nasty women of the world unite! It’s time we kicked up a storm. You can find Stylist’s handy how-to guide here.