Kim Cattrall and Marsha Mason Talk Women and Hollywood

by Melissa Silverstein on April 7, 2010

in Actresses,Ageism

Kim Cattrall is best known as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City but she has also appeared on stage in London several times over the last couple of years to much success.  She hasn’t been on a Broadway stage since 1986,  but that might change with the great reviews she has gotten as Amanda in Noel Coward’s Private Lives.

While Sex and the City has clearly led to many opportunities for her, things have really not changed for women in Hollywood.  This is from the NY Times this past weekend.

And while the success of “Sex and the City” was in some ways a vital salvo in women’s continuing battle against marginalization in Hollywood, Ms. Cattrall does not think that the show’s (or the first movie’s) popularity has opened many doors for actresses in their 40s and beyond.

“I don’t have a massive amount of scripts sent to me to suggest that that is going on,” she says. “Change is gradual. Someone recently asked what I am most proud of. The thing I’m most proud of is that I’m in my 50s and I’m still a leading lady. I look at Judi Dench, who is playing Titania at 75, and Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, all of whom are still doing work that stretches them. They are recognized for it, and I hope that’s what I can continue to do.”

Hollywood legend, Marsha Mason is also appearing onstage, in NYC, and the stage is pretty much the best place see her act nowadays.  She did appear as Kim Delaney’s mom last year on Army Wives.  She played some great and strong women in films in the 70s and 80s.  I will never forget her in The Goodbye Girl (where are characters like that nowadays?) and I also have a soft soft for Max Dugan Returns.  Neil Simon wrote some great women in those days.  She gave a great interview to about her relationship to Hollywood and talked about women and also aging.

Do you get a lot of film offers that you turn down?

I haven’t been called for a film role in a really long time. There just aren’t that many parts around for a woman my age, or however Hollywood chooses to see you. Also, a lot of the industry out there is much younger now, so they don’t have a historical concept.

Do you think Kathryn Bigelow winning the directing Oscar will have a lasting impact as far as women in Hollywood?

I hope so. I hope so. It’s very upsetting: I was talking with Sarah Treem, a young writer—I did her play A Feminine Ending—she was telling me that she had a meeting once with a woman executive who said, “Don’t write about women, because nobody will do that material.” So I think there’s an idea out there that needs to be broken, and hopefully Kathryn Bigelow winning the award [will lead to change]. I’m positive a lot of women in the Academy voted for her. It’s well deserved, and the movie’s brilliant, and it proves a woman director can direct anything.

I was a board member of the American Film Institute for almost 25 years, and one of the big projects that [CEO] Jean Firstenberg started that I helped with was the directing workshop for women. The whole idea was to give women within the business the opportunity to explore directing. And yet I remember having a conversation with [producer] Suzanne de Passe, who told me that when she would go to try and set up a project, the shortlist never contained a woman director. And yet they would take a young male director just out of film school. So I think there was a prejudice there—a philosophical misogynistic attitude in Hollywood—that was absolutely real and needs to be changed.

It’s so interesting to read how young women writers are getting the message that they shouldn’t write about women.  Read the full interview here.

You can see Mason now in I Never Sang for My Father.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist April 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM

that is so depressing. Kim Catrall is verrryyyyy sexy and funny, I can’t believe she doesn’t get many offers. Ugh….

Panty Buns April 7, 2010 at 3:50 PM

I agree both that it’s a shame if Kim Catrall hasn’t gotten that many offers and that she is hot!. I am very much warmed at the outlook and attitude about getting older though. Good interview.

Shirley Balsinger June 12, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Prejusdice for women will always exist as long as we buy into the male supremacy theory.

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