12 Actresses Who Were Rejected for Being “Too Old” and Many of Them Aren’t Even 50


It’s no secret that a significant portion of the world’s population is concerned about growing old and being shut out of life’s opportunities. It’s also common knowledge that the media industry does not assist us in thinking otherwise. While times are changing, the fact is that we still have a long way to go to ensure that high beauty standards and stereotypes do not affect actresses who, as they age, notice a decline in job offers.

1. Reese Witherspoon


Some may wonder, “Is this serious?” after seeing Reese Witherspoon on this list. “How can this actress be referred to as ‘old’?” She seems to be for the film industry. Reese Witherspoon was one of the front-runners for the lead role in a biographical film about singer Stevie Nicks when it was first suggested. However, as the project progressed, she was no longer considered the best choice. When asked if Reese Witherspoon will play the protagonist again, Nicks responded, “I’ve already told (Reese) she’s almost too mature.”

The actress was, in reality, about 37 years old at the time, so this assertion can be considered exaggerated. In either case, Reese’s career was unaffected by the rejection. She created Hello Sunshine, a production company where she produces projects in which women play leading roles without being stereotyped. Along with other actors, she is currently making and acting in Big Little Lies.

2. Maggie Gyllenhaal


Maggie Gyllenhaal, another 37-year-old star, was also turned down. “There are aspects about becoming an actress in Hollywood that are really disappointing and surprise me all the time,” she said in 2015. “I’m 37 years old, and I was recently told that I was too old to play the lover of a 55-year-old man. It took my breath away. It made me feel bad at first, then frustrated, and finally, it made me laugh.” She didn’t reveal the name of the production company that turned her down, but the incident didn’t stop her from moving on with her career. She continues to act in films and television shows to this day.

3. Elizabeth Banks


While she is best known for her role as Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games franchise, she was refused the role of Mary Jean in Spider-Man in 2002 when she was 28 years old. Instead, producers hired Kirsten Dunst, an 18-year-old actress. Given that Mary Jean is a teen in the comic, the decision makes sense. When narrating the plot, Elizabeth explained why she was worried: “Laura Ziskin (the producer) said: ‘She’s too old.'” It’s all right. I understand because I’m a lot older than Kirsten Dunst. Tobey and I are around the same age.”

Tobey Maguire, who was about the same age as Elizabeth, 27, at the time, and was still a long way from becoming a child, was the one who played Peter Parker. As a result, Kirsten Dunst was the one who kissed Spiderman in the rain. Despite this, Elizabeth was cast in a supporting role in the film and went on to work on big projects that had no age restrictions.

4. Anne Hathaway


While Anne Hathaway is not yet 40, she has stated that after the age of 30, work opportunities were limited to characters of the same age. “When I was in my early twenties, sections for women in their fifties would be written for me, and I’d get them. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m wondering why that 24-year-old got that part. Rejections haven’t stopped us from seeing her on television, thankfully. She continues to star in a variety of films ranging from science fiction to drama and comedy.

5. Olivia Wilde


Olivia, 29, was turned down for the role of Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street because she was too “sophisticated” for the part, and the casting committee instead chose Margot Robbie. “I was like, ‘I was like,’she once said about her experience. Wow, that sounds wonderful. That’s some great reviews. I didn’t get the part, but I’m a very refined individual. Later on, I discovered that they actually said ‘old.’ Surprisingly, the leading man was ten years her senior. Olivia, who recalls the incident as humorous, claims that her apparent mistake freed her up to take part in Vinyl.

6. Emma Thompson

© Sense and Sensibility / Columbia Pictures

Is there someone else who might play Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility? Since Emma was 36 years old at the time, many people doubted she was the right actress for the role when the project was still in its infancy. “I recall someone telling me that I was too old for Hugh Grant, who is about a year younger than me, in Sense and Sensibility,” she once said. Both the director and the cast dismissed the stereotypes and continued with the script, which was a major hit on the big screen thanks to Emma and Hugh’s chemistry.

7. Melanie Griffith


Melanie’s daughter, Dakota Johnson, rather than the actress, shared dissatisfaction with the lack of job offers her mother receives. Dakota lamented in an interview, “Why isn’t my mother in movies?” She is a fantastic actress! (…) This is a harsh business.” Melanie is currently enjoying motherhood by publicly promoting her daughter Dakota’s increasing success, despite the fact that the number of her working ventures has decreased in comparison to previous years. What a lovely mother-daughter link!

8. Kathy Griffin


As she auditions for films, the 58-year-old actress and comedian hasn’t been ashamed to admit that she immediately recognises that when she’s told, “We’re just not considering females at this time,” what they really mean is, “They like you, but they’ve chosen to go younger.” Kathy knew how to continue sharing her humour with the general public by releasing novels, CDs with joke segments, comedy, and even some small-screen ventures.

9. Rene Russo


When producers accepted the idea to make Tim Burton’s Batman Forever in 1995, everyone assumed Rene Russo would be cast as Dr. Chase Meridian because she had previously played the role in the prequel. However, after the previous film’s protagonist turned down the part, she was dropped from the project at the age of 41. Russo was deemed too old for the new Batman, played by Val Kilmer, who was 5 years her junior. In her artistic career, the occurrence had little significance. She has been moving us with her portrayal of Frigga, Thor’s beautiful and intelligent mother in The Avengers, until recently.

10. Jamie Denbo

© Joe Stevens / Retna Ltd. /MediaPunch/EAST NEWS

Jamie Denbo is a name that not everyone can remember. While she will appear recognisable in this photograph, not everyone would recognise her face from a film or television show. So, to give you a hint, you might recognise her from Orange Is the New Black, where she played Shelly Ginsberg, among other projects. She wasn’t as reserved as other artists when discussing her dissatisfaction with Hollywood’s ageism, as she had been turned down for a project due to her age. She even devoted some of her tweets to the subject.

“I was just told that, at the age of 43, I am TOO OLD to play the wife of a 57-year-old,” she tweeted in 2017. Then she went on to say something even more shocking: “Oh, and the characters have an 18-year-old daughter.” I’m TOO OLD to have an 18-year-old daughter.” Despite her displeasure, the actress has persevered and is currently working on a number of small-screen shows.

11. Charlize Theron


If you’ve ever wondered when it’s appropriate to be called a mother in the film industry, here’s a good example. Charlize Theron, 44, was not rejected in this case; rather, she was the one who declined the offer to play Wonder Woman because of her age. In an interview, she stated:

“This is an excellent example of how Hollywood slaps you in the face as you start getting older.” She went on to say that when she was offered a part in the film, she assumed it would be as the heroine. The casting team, on the other hand, wanted her to play Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother. The proposal came as a shock, and it made her realise what her current position in the film industry was at her age. Ironically, her “daughter” would have been only 10 years younger than her if she had accepted the role. Fortunately, even without playing Gal Gadot’s mother, the actress and model can still choose incredible roles that represent her beauty and talent.

12. Catherine Zeta-Jones


Catherine Zeta-Jones being “rejected” because of her age isn’t surprising at this point on the list, but you would be surprised to learn she was refused a job at the age of 19. According to the actress, she decided to audition for a part in Aspects of Love while she was a teenager since most of her projects were on Broadway.

“Trevor (the director) is always charming, and he told me I was a tad too old and a tad too pretty (…) I wasn’t even 20 at the time, and I remember telling him, “You can be as ugly or as young as you want, but it won’t help you.” He later offered her the opportunity to act in other roles, allowing her to demonstrate her talent. Catherine eventually found success in the film industry, starring in major roles that made her popular.

Which of these tales took you by surprise the most? Would you like to see a greater range of ages among female celebrities on screen? Tell us about your favourite actress, regardless of age. Talent, as we’ve seen, does not age.

Preview photo credit reesewitherspoon / Instagrammgyllenhaal / Instagram