Emma Thompson is asking the big questions right now: ‘Why can’t older women have sex on screen with a much younger man?’
Think about it, most Hollywood films regularly feature a much older man with a far younger (and far more attractive) female partner.
Thompson wants to change things, and says in her next film she will be “largely naked” with a man in his 20s instead. Why should the guys have all the fun?
Her new film is Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, and Thompson plays a recently widowed teacher who decides to pay a younger sex worker for a night of fun.
“It’s very interesting with this woman I’m about to play. This young man says, ‘You’re perfectly attractive, why can’t you find another chap?’ And she says, ‘Because the only people willing to sleep with me are people my age, and I want to sleep with someone younger than me.’
“Now I’ve never heard a woman say that on screen. With men, it’s completely acceptable” she insists.
“It’s completely and utterly unbalanced.”
“It’s completely acceptable for George Clooney – who is delightful – to have someone who is 30 years younger than him. If I have someone playing opposite me in a romantic way, they have to exhume someone, because I’m 61 now. Do you see what I mean? It’s completely and utterly unbalanced.”
Emma wants to end the trope that women “get past 50 and you’re invisible”, whereas men become silver foxes and all the more desirable in the eyes of the acting industry.
She told the Culture Blast podcast, you “just have to show it” on screen. “If Leo Grande, the film that we make, speaks to people and people aren’t averse to seeing someone who’s 61 largely naked with a very much younger person, it’s going to be very interesting. We’ve got to keep being brave about that.”
“Not nearly fast enough”
Emma laughs about her openness when it comes to discussing difficult subjects: “I probably could do with being slightly more boundaried, but I don’t feel much of a boundary between myself and other human beings.”
The new film has been written by Katy Brand. The male lead to star opposite Emma Thompson hasn’t yet been cast.
There have been many changes in the industry over recent years, but Thompson said it was changing “but not nearly fast enough”.
“It’s not good enough simply to give the women the guns and then make the women bad-ass as well. Now women have to bad-ass… they’re not allowed to cry any more, apparently, because we’ve got to be just like men. I remember thinking, ‘That’s not what we meant.’”
“That’s not where our heroism lies. So how do we make it heroic? Why are there no films about birth, for crying out loud? Does anyone even know about that? No, it’s all hidden.
“All our heroism is hidden because what we’ve done is we’ve just given women the same parts as men and that’s not the point.”
Do you agree with Emma?
Image via Alamy