Penélope Cruz is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood’s most successful actors: she made her big debut when she was just 16 (to critical acclaim), and has gone on to star in the likes of Open Your Eyes, Vanilla Sky, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Volver and Nine. She has a bevy of awards and accolades under her belt – indeed, she was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress when she walked away with the gong in 2008.
So you can understand her frustration, then, that so many media outlets only want to ask her one thing: what’s it like to be an “ageing” woman in the public eye?
Speaking to Gwyneth Paltrow for Interview magazine, Cruz explained that she is sick and tired of being asked “crazy” questions about her age – and pointed out that she has been subjected to them ever since she first hit her early twenties.
“Journalists have been asking me, since I was, like, 22, 'Are you afraid of aging?'” she said. “That is such a crazy question for a 22-year-old girl or, for that matter, for a 42 year old.
“I combat that craziness by refusing to answer the question.I n fact, when it comes to talking about ageing as an actress, I feel like, ‘What the f**k? I’m not going to give you even two minutes to honour your question. It doesn't deserve that.’”
Cruz went on to explain that, when she was younger and first starting out in the film industry, she felt obliged to do her best to answer any and all questions – no matter how deeply personal they may have been
Since the birth of her and Javier Bardem’s daughter, Luna, though, things have changed: Cruz now recognises that she is a female role model – and that someone has to speak out against the media’s ridiculous obsession with women over the age of 40.
“Something changed when I gave birth to my daughter,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘Come on, it's 2017. Why do women still have to be talking about this? It's crazy.’”
Cruz is not alone in her complaints about the industry’s problems with older women: in fact, Julianne Moore recently explained that she positively hates being referred to as “ageing” now that she’s older.
“I mean, let’s not talk about this idea of, ‘Oh no! I’m going to be 40!’ You could be dead. So enjoy it. It’s a privilege to age,” she told InStyle magazine.
Adding that her age affects the sort of roles she is allowed to read for, Moore continues: “Even in scripts, they’ll refer to a character as ‘ageing.’
“Well... everyone is ageing.”
Elsewhere, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, Patricia Arquette and Anne Hathaway have spoken out to highlight the issue of Hollywood ageism, with Thompson declaring it to be “insane”.
Olivia Wilde and Maggie Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, have also discussed being turned down for parts because they were deemed too old for the leading man – who were all played by male actors older than them.
However, while many women in the spotlight have spoken out against Hollywood’s deeply misogynist ageism problem, Charlize Theron famously defended youth-obsessed studio bosses when she told Entertainment Tonight: “Now that I'm 41 I work much more than 20 years ago, and I enjoy it even more. And all the women I know say the same thing, so it's time to stop this cliché.”
Images: Rex Features