Academy Award-winning film director Pedro Almodóvar says sexism is rampant in Hollywood — a town that wears its liberalism on its sleeve — but admits that there’s no one person to blame for his industry’s mistreatment of female artists.
“There’s a kind of diabolical sexism, and I say that it’s diabolical because there’s no one that we can actually accuse of being responsible for this sexism,” Almodóvar told Variety in an interview.
The filmmaker added that many established actresses including Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange have been forced to turn to television to find compelling roles, while European actresses have had more success on the big screen.
“The roles are out there for someone like Meryl Streep, but they’re not out there for the others,” he said.
Almodóvar has spent decades working with A-list actresses. He was first nominated for an Academy Award for his comedy-drama, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), winning his first Oscar eleven years later for All About My Mother (1999).
The Spanish film legend said decision-makers in Hollywood are taking women for granted by handing them dull, one-dimensional projects.
“We’ve got all of these movies that are about heroes and about arch-enemies, and there’s the sequels and there’s the prequels,” Almodóvar said. “With those movies, in general, and I’m only generalizing, if a woman appears, their function is to prove that the hero is not a homosexual.”
The topic of sexism in Hollywood has reached a fever pitch in the industry. Last year, the federal Equal Opportunity Commission launched an investigation into Hollywood discrimination against female directors on film and television projects.
Last September, Leftovers star Liv Tyler, who is 38, said she’s treated like a “second class citizen” in Hollywood because of her age.
“When you’re in your teens and twenties, there is an abundance of ingénue parts which are exciting to play. But at [my age] you’re usually the wife or the girlfriend, a sort of second class citizen. There are more interesting roles for women when they get a bit older,” she told More Magazine.
On Wednesday, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising star Rose Byrne told a CBS This Morning panel that there’s a “quiet tolerance” in Hollywood to pay female artists less than their male co-stars. Actress Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on pay equity in Hollywood last year was widely read in the industry, and led Variety to claim this week that it actually changed the way Hollywood perceived the problem.
Also this week, House of Cards star Robin Wright went public about how she had to demand the same pay as her co-star Kevin Spacey for her role on the popular Netflix political drama.
“Hollywood is losing an enormous opportunity when it doesn’t actually create these good roles for women of all ages,” Almodovar said. “When it doesn’t actually create good roles to talk about mothers, about girlfriends, about daughters, about sister-in-laws.”
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