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Susan Sarandon recalls being brutally told her career would be “done by 40”

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Susan Devaney
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Actress Susan Sarandon has revealed how Hollywood’s toxic double standards affected her career early on and how things are starting to improve for women. 

In recent months a whole host of women in Hollywood – from Penélope Cruz to Nicole Kidman – have opened up a dialogue about the toxic double standards surrounding ageing in the film industry.

Now, Susan Sarandon has added her voice to the conversation. While discussing the sexism experienced by actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr in the Forties, whose story is told in new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Sarandon admitted to being able to personally relate to it – especially during the start of her career in the Seventies.

“I was told you were done by the time you’re 40 and you definitely shouldn’t talk about having children, because that made you less sexy,” Sarandon, who’s an executive producer of the film, explained.

She added: “I’m still working, and there are tonnes of other women working around my age, and the main reason for that is female producers and female writers and directors and people who are willing to try and get money for a female-driven story where all the characters are not 22.”

“Otherwise, there just aren’t that many stories of older men and women. I mean there are stories of older men but they always have 30-year-old girlfriends.”

It’s a topic that fellow actress Nicole Kidman has addressed in recent months. In January this year, Kidman spoke of the film industry’s toxic double standards towards ageing when she accepted her Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies.

“How wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old,” she said, before turning her attention to her fellow nominees – Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Reese Witherspoon, and Laura Dern – as well as the other women who have inspired her over the years.

“Twenty years ago we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives.

“That’s not the case anymore. We’ve proven… that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us as our stories are finally being told.”

She added: “It’s only the beginning.”

Sarandon starred in the 1991 film Thelma and Louise with fellow actress Geena Davis. 

Sarandon – who’s starred in films such as Thelma and Louise and Dead Man Walking – also addressed the importance of the Time’s Up initiative.

“Time’s Up is not only about violence against women,” she said.

“It’s also about being seen and listening to all women in all kinds of jobs: our sisters that are waitresses and cleaning apartments and taking care of our children and all of these areas where the imbalance of power has led to vulnerability, where women are physically threatened.

“And in listening to everyone, the world will be a healthier place.”

We hear ya, Sarandon. 

Images: Rex Features