The British actress talks about the worsening situation women face in Hollywood

By Drew Mackie
Updated September 02, 2015 08:00 PM
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Emma Thompson has two Academy Awards, nominations for three more and a diverse array of acting roles dating back to 1982. However, her success in Hollywood hasn’t made her immune to the same difficulties faced by other actresses who dared to age past 30, and in a new interview she’s speaking out against ageism and sexism in show business.

“The age thing is insane,” Thompson, 56, recently told Vulture. “It was ever thus. I remember saying years and years ago, when I was 35, that they’d have to exhume somebody to play my leading man. Nothing’s changed in that regard. If anything, it’s got worse.”

In the piece, Thompson recalls filming 1995’s Sense and Sensibility, which she was nominated twice – for acting and for writing the screenplay. (She won in the latter category.) The film co-starred Hugh Grant. “I remember somebody saying to me that I was too old for Hugh Grant, who’s like a year younger than me,” Thompson said. “I said, ‘Do you want to go take a flying leap?’ ”

As Thompson sees it, women working in Hollywood should be working together to level the playing field – and as a result, she’s perplexed by younger actresses saying they don’t identify as feminists.

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“It’s bizarre. Any woman who says they’re not a feminist is basically saying that they don’t believe in equal rights for women,” Thompson said. “I’ve been a card-carrying, radical feminist since I was 19.”

To her, women in the spotlight have an obligation to act as ambassadors to the cause when speaking publicly. “Any woman who says, ‘I hate my bum, I hate my body,’ is essentially expressing a kind of misogyny,” she said. “All women who come up with that need to think very carefully about what it is they’re saying. Including me!”

Finally, Thompson said she is not wowed by the current trend of blockbuster superhero movies. (“If I see yet another Spider-Man, I’m going to have to actually hang myself,” she jokes.) However, there is one superhero she feels still deserves a big moment in the spotlight: “I’m up for Wonder Woman, totally.”

Thompson’s next major projects are writing the script for the upcoming sequel Bridget Jones’s Baby and appearing in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, in which she will play a talking teapot.