Instagram | @reesewitherspoon

10+ Celebs Who Were Rejected From Roles For Being 'Too Old'

Sexism: it comes in all flavors! For many Hollywood actresses "of a certain age" (ie, over 40), that flavor is, "too old."

Just take it from Jessica Lange: "It’s not a level playing field. You don’t often see women in their 60s playing romantic leads, yet you will see men in their 60s playing romantic leads with costars who are decades younger."

The women in this list have lived that reality a thousand times over. Let's stan them forever.

Anne Hathaway

Instagram | @annehathaway

Imagine rejecting Anne Hathaway for a role. Just...imagine that level of idiocy.

Anne has begun to miss out on roles that she previously used to land, and she believes it's entirely down to her age.

"[...] now I’m in my early thirties and I’m like, 'Why did that 24-year-old get that part?'"

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Instagram | @mgyllenhaal

She's an incredibly accomplished actress, so of course an executive decided her looks were the most important thing about her.

When she was told she was too old to play the love interest to a 55-year-old man, she said, "It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

Elizabeth Banks

Instagram | @elizabethbanks

Believe it or not, Elizabeth Banks was up for the role of MJ in the Tobey McGuire Spiderman movies.

It makes sense that she was passed over — MJ was a teenager, after all. Except...she was 28 and rejected, while McGuire was 27 and starring in the movie.


Charlize Theron

Instagram | @charlizeafrica

Charlize Theron faced a difficult situation when she was offered a role in Wonder Woman.

Instead of portraying Diana, she was meant to be playing Diana's mother. Charlize is only 10 years older than Gal Gadot, who eventually got the part.

Zoe Saldana

Instagram | @zoesaldana

When Zoe came up against Hollywood ageism, she put up a fight.

"By the time you’re 28 you’re expired, you’re playing mommy roles. We’re not the ones putting ourselves in those places. We’re allowing ourselves to be put in those positions. I just won’t allow it."

You go, Gamora.

Olivia Wilde

Instagram | @oliviawilde

Before Margot Robbie won the role in The Wolf of Wall Street, Olivia Wilde was reportedly considered for it — but was rejected for being too old.

She was 28.

Olivia was told that she was too "sophisticated" for the role, but later learned they actually said she was too old.

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson was 36 when she was cast opposite Hugh Grant (who was 35) in Sense and Sensibility.

"I remember somebody saying to me that I was too old for Hugh Grant, who’s like a year younger than me, in Sense and Sensibility."

She won an Oscar for her role.

Reese Witherspoon

Instagram | @reesewitherspoon

The person who told Reese Witherspoon (who is 37) she was too old for a part? Stevie Nicks, of all people.

Reese was being considered to portray Nicks in a biopic, which Nicks originally gave her blessing too. Now?

"I’ve already told her she’s almost too old," said Nicks, who was 64 at the time.

Liv Tyler

Instagram | @mislivalittle

Liv Tyler wants better roles for women.

"When you’re in your teens or 20s, there is an abundance of ingenue parts which are exciting to play." She said. "But at [my age], you’re usually the wife or the girlfriend — a sort of second-class citizen"

Rene Russo

Rene Russo was all set to play Batman's (Val Kilmer) love interest in Batman Forever when she was suddenly let go from the part.

She was 41 at the time. The part instead went with Nicole Kidman, who was 28.

Kathy Griffin

Instagram | @kathygriffin

Kathy faces boatloads of sexism and ageism as a female comedian.

"I’ve had network executives tell me ‘We’re just not considering females at this time,'" she said. "I would be hearing, ‘They like you, they’ve just decided to go younger.'"

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Instagram | @catherinezetajones

When Catherine Zeta-Jones was just 19, she was told she was too old for a part.

Her director, "told me I was just a little bit too old and a little bit too pretty."

Jamie Denbo


Jamie Denbo, who played Shelly in Orange is the New Black, tweeted about an experience with ageism.

"I was just informed that at the age of 43, I am TOO OLD to play the wife of a 57-year-old," she wrote.

The kicker? At 43, she was also apparently too old to play the mother of an 18-year-old.

Glenn Close

When Glenn Close was up for one of the most pivotal roles of her career, her age became an issue.

At 40, she was thought to be too old to play Michael Douglas' love interest. She got the part, and her fourth Oscar nomination.

Meryl Streep

Wikimedia Commons

Meryl Streep turned 40, and her choice of roles greatly diminished.

She was offered three different roles as a witch after she turned 40.

"I remember turning to my husband and saying, 'Well, what should we do? Because it's over," she said.