Three Generations Of Actresses On How Ageism Affects Women In Hollywood

Nov 17, 2017
Originally published on November 17, 2017 8:48 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Yesterday we aired a conversation with three actors from one family - Tippi Hedren, her daughter, Melanie Griffith, and her granddaughter, Dakota Johnson. They talked about harassment in Hollywood and what has and hasn't changed for women over the years. And we want to share another part of that conversation that we didn't have time for yesterday. It's about roles for women in Hollywood and how hard it can be for women to get work once they reach a certain age. Melanie Griffith starts.

MELANIE GRIFFITH: When you're in the prime of your life - like, 20 to 40 - and you're acting it's an amazing time. And then for me, when I hit 40 - not exactly 40, but around then - I really wasn't as interested in making movies as I used to be.

MCEVERS: But, I mean, you said things like, you know, the fact that I have some lines on my face, that's the thing. It's not because I lost my talent...

GRIFFITH: Yeah.

MCEVERS: ...You know, or became deformed, that that's why...

GRIFFITH: Yeah.

MCEVERS: ...You know, you weren't cast in certain ways.

GRIFFITH: Well, I think there was a lot of reasons for that, but, yeah, definitely as you get older it's not - and now with the way they film stuff, it's not the same as it was, like, when Mom was making movies or when I was - started making movies. They made you incredibly beautiful...

MCEVERS: Oh, with the sort of...

GRIFFITH: ...Even when you weren't.

MCEVERS: ...The airbrushing (laughter)?

GRIFFITH: Yeah. Like, all the lights and the - it was really intense. It was fabulous.

MCEVERS: And, Dakota, you've talked about this, too, about the fact that, you know, your mother and your grandmother can't get roles because they're a certain age.

DAKOTA JOHNSON: Yeah, which is really unfortunate because I want to watch the women that I admire evolve in their craft, and it's really difficult when Hollywood isn't conducive to that. It's like you want to be - you need to be hot and fresh and young and new.

TIPPI HEDREN: Well, I think there's a...

JOHNSON: I'd rather see you in a movie now...

HEDREN: Thank you.

JOHNSON: ...Than, like, some random...

MCEVERS: Ingenue.

JOHNSON: Yeah.

GRIFFITH: But, you know, the business has changed so much. It's like right now you have the opportunity to do so many things - to produce, to direct, to act. In my day back in the '70s and the '80s and the '90s - but it wasn't really a possibility. I'm sure it wasn't when you were working, Mom...

HEDREN: No.

GRIFFITH: ...For a woman to do all of the things that you can do and you must do, you know?

JOHNSON: Yeah. I also think that that has happened, that has grown. I think that there's sort of a stigma on it, that it's like it's fleeting. So maybe right now that I have this hot time...

MCEVERS: Grab it. You have to. Yeah.

JOHNSON: ...I have to do it now. And so I have to create. I'm interested in longevity. And I want to make films until I die.

HEDREN: But there's another issue, too. They don't really find women who are getting older to be fascinating enough to make screenplays about. I mean, they just don't write those anymore.

JOHNSON: Which is ridiculous.

HEDREN: You know, because we are fascinating.

JOHNSON: You are the most fascinating woman I've ever met in my whole life.

MCEVERS: Would you - if somebody came to you with a great script, Tippi, I mean, would you do it?

HEDREN: I...

MCEVERS: What kind of role would you love to play?

HEDREN: I would certainly consider it, absolutely. I've been disappointed for a lot of years that nobody has come to me with anything like that.

MCEVERS: You've heard it here.

HEDREN: Yeah.

MCEVERS: No, but really, what kind of role would - you know, if you could have your - you know, what kind of role?

HEDREN: Well, I'd like to do something like a comedy with - you know, being the age I am.

JOHNSON: Who would you want to work with?

HEDREN: Oh.

GRIFFITH: What man would you want to work with, Mom?

JOHNSON: Well, Mom, we're talking about not men.

MCEVERS: Oh, God.

(LAUGHTER)

HEDREN: Well, look at who I'm sitting opposite.

JOHNSON: And everything we just said goes out the window.

MCEVERS: I mean, obviously the three of you should make a movie together. I mean, that's...

HEDREN: I - that's what I was just going to say. I've got Melanie Griffith here and Dakota Johnson, and you are the ones I would love to work with.

MCEVERS: Well, Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson and Tippi Hedren, thank you so much for...

GRIFFITH: Thank you so much.

MCEVERS: ...Talking today. This has been great.

HEDREN: Well, thank you for inviting us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

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