The news about Laura Dern playing Reese Witherspoon's mother made me giggle at first this weekend since she's the right age to play her big sister. But the more I thought of it the more it bugged me. Especially since it came hot on the heels of realizing that Tilda Swinton, who turns 53 in a week or two, had the role originally designed for the legendary Angela Lansbury (who is 88) in . To add insult to injury, Alex reminded me on Twitter that Susan Sarandon will be playing Melissa McCarthy's grandmother in the upcoming comedy Tammy. Sarandon is just 24 years older than McCarthy which would make her a fairly young mother of the star but a grandmother? That means she and her fictional daughter were knocked up as pre-teens. Gross!
None of this should be miscontrued as me not enjoying myself some Dern, Sarandon and Swinton! But all of this reminds me that Sally Field, ten years senior to Tom Hanks, played his mother in Forrest Gump just six years after rejecting him romantically in Punchline. That's misogynist Hollywood's version of karmic punishment, right?! [more]
(Remarkably Hollywood forgave her, allowing her to be Mrs Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln despite being eleven years older)
So herewith a helpful chart for Hollywood's mathematically averse casting directors of which underemployed actresses they might consider next time they're looking for the mother or grandmothers of today's leading men and women (instead of the people who get cast who are of sibling-appropriate age) and/or looking for underexplored talents to surprise us with. Regarding the latter, there's no hard evidence that people forget how to act when they aren't working a lot or are working an endless series of thankless small roles, that can't be countered with examples of people getting lazy who are working a lot. So let's not count people out just because we haven't seen them in awhile. At least let's see if any of these women have one more great performance in them, shall we?
mid to late 40s roles
Next time you can't afford the Kidmans, the Roberts, or the Bullocks. Next time you can't get MLP or Linney, or are ready to look beyond the supporting mainstays like Diane Lanes, Viola Davises or Maria Bellos (all frequently employed thank god), and you need a vivid lady to play mom to today's Efrons, Woodley's, Lawrences, Jordans or an age-appropriate wife for once for the Crowes, Owens, Ruffalos, Harrelsons, Smiths, and Clooneys of the world, what about...
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