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This Actor Was Asked to Play a Grandmother as Soon as She Turned 40

The Matrix star Carrie-Anne Moss said her career changed when she hit that milestone.

It's no secret that there's ageism in Hollywood, whether that means older men being cast opposite much younger women love interests or a lack of roles for older women altogether. One actor recently opened up about feeling the effect of Hollywood's skewed take on age when she hit a milestone birthday. Carrie-Anne Moss said she was offered a "grandmother" role as soon as she turned 40.

Moss is best known for her starring role as Trinity in The Matrix movies, and at 53 years old she's set to return to the role for The Matrix 4. But, the actor says that when she celebrated her 40th birthday, the type of parts she was offered changed right away.

Read on to see what Moss had to say about her experience and to read more about the ridiculous standards for women of aging in Hollywood. And to read about stars who are reaching this big birthday in 2021, check out 40 Celebrities Who Are Turning 40 This Year.

The parts she was being offered changed dramatically all of a sudden.

Carrie-Anne Moss at the premiere of "Wonder" in 2017
Tinseltown /

Moss opened up about her experience as an actor while hosting a conversation with actor and writer Justine Bateman for the 92nd Street Y. Bateman recently released a book titled Face: One Square Foot of Skin about women aging and how society reacts to it.

"I had heard that at 40 everything changed," Moss said during their talk, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "I didn't believe in that because I don't believe in just jumping on a thought system that I don't really align with. But literally the day after my 40th birthday, I was reading a script that had come to me and I was talking to my manager about it. She was like, 'Oh, no, no, no, it's not that role [you're reading for], it's the grandmother. I may be exaggerating a bit, but it happened overnight. I went from being a girl to the mother to beyond the mother."

For more double standards in the media, check out This Resurfaced Oprah Interview With Mary-Kate and Ashley Has Fans Livid.

Moss' confidence wavered watching herself age on screen.

Carrie-Anne Moss, Keanu Reeves, and Jada Pinkett Smith at a press conference for "The Matrix Revolutions" in 2003
Featureflash Photo Agency /

Moss described it as "kind of brutal" to watch herself getting older on screen. "You don't feel like you've aged much and suddenly you're seeing yourself onscreen," the Memento actor told Bateman. "I would look at these French and European actresses and they just had something about them that felt so confident in their own skin. I couldn't wait to be that. I strive for that. It's not easy being in this business. There's a lot of external pressure."

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Moss is far from the first actor to talk about Hollywood after 40. 

Meryl Streep at the Venice Film Festival in 2019
Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock

Many women actors have spoken out about how their careers changed as they got older. Meryl Streep is one star who is known for getting meaty parts playing women over 40, but she's had similar experiences to Moss as well.

"When I was 40, I was offered three witch [roles]," Streep told People magazine in 2014. "I was not offered any female adventurers or love interests or heroes or demons. I was offered witches because I was 'old' at 40." She added, "Things have changed since then, I think. That was 25 years ago. Now there's so much more interesting stuff available. But still…"

Similarly, Maggie Gyllenhaal said that she was told she was "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man when she was only 37. "It was astonishing to me," she told The Wrap in 2015. "It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

For more on Streep's lengthy career, check out The Worst Meryl Streep Movie of All Time, According to Critics.

This concept was mocked in a memorable comedy sketch.

Patricia Arquette and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on "Inside Amy Schumer"
Comedy Central/YouTube

A 2015 episode of show Inside Amy Schumer poked fun at the intersection of sexism and ageism in Hollywood with a sketch called "Last F***able Day." The sketch features Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who were all in their 40s or 50s at the time.

"In every actress's life, the media decides when you've finally reached the point where you're not believably f***able anymore," Louis-Dreyfus explains in the skit. Fey then shares an example that mirrors Moss' "grandmother" role story: "You know how Sally Field was Tom Hanks' love interest in Punch Line and then, like, 20 minutes later, she was his mom in Forrest Gump?"

For stars who aren't giving into those pressures, check out 17 Celebrity Women Who Have Much Younger Partners.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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