Emma Thompson Speaks About Ageism in the Film Industry and the Value of Independent Thinking

Emma Thompson has given a new interview in which she discusses her upcoming role in The Legend of Barney Thomson, in which she plays a 77-year-old hooker, as well as shares some reflections about the current state of the film industry.

The first topic up for discussion was the fact that Thompson has been cast as a 77-year-old, over a 20-year difference between her actual age, 56:

It is a bit ageist. It would be really nice to get someone who is actually 77 to play her, but it’s a wildly comic role, and I couldn’t resist… I think it’s still completely s***, actually. I don’t think there’s any appreciable improvement, and I think that for women, the question of how they are supposed to look is worse than it was even when I was young. So no, I am not impressed, at all.

Thompson also spoke about spending time with her teenage daughter and introducing her to the idea that life as a woman doesn’t have to mean buying into the unrealistic standards and materialistic culture constantly being peddled by the mainstream media:

When I was younger I really did think we were on our way to a better world, and when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women, and I find that very disturbing and sad… so I get behind as many young female performers as I can, and actually, a lot of the conversations I have with them are about exactly the fact that we are facing and writing about the same things, and nothing has changed and that some forms of sexism and unpleasantness to women have become more entrenched and indeed more prevalent.

Commenting on her status as an industry “outsider,” Thompson said,

Outsiders tend to remain capable of independent thought. Let’s face it, that is not true of everyone, especially when you are surrounded by a press that is predominantly deeply reactionary and homogenised. And when you are surrounded by a magazine culture that really beggars belief in its vacuity, and the pernicious nature of what people think is acceptable. Our questioning natures really do have to work very hard at the moment to get above the thick layer of sticky, oily old ideas and ways of being that are peddled daily.

As ever, Emma Thompson is both eloquent and wise in her cutting observations about today’s culture and the way it treats women. We’d cast you in anything, Emma, even if you were 90!

You can watch the trailer for The Legend of Barney Thomson here, and be sure to read the full interview here.