Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In the real world, she'd be your older sister at best...

So in between Hunter Valley sojourns, InDesign training courses and catching up to 2006 by setting up a Facebook profile, I've been pondering actresses cast as blokes' mums, even when they're clearly not old enough to be so.

I reckon it all began with The Manchurian Candidate, when Angela Lansbury was cast as Laurence Harvey's Bitch Mother From Hell. Harvey at the time was 35; Angela was...37. As it happened, she was a good enough actress (this was pre-Jessica Fletcher times when Angela was essentially originating BMFH roles) to pull it off, but you wouldn't be surprised if the poor thing felt a little bit slighted by that.

The trend's continued in movies over time, but it seems to be at its worst in soap. 53-year-old Leslie-Anne Down is currently playing mum to 48-year-old Jack Wagner on B&B; and as an indication of how ridiculous this becomes when characters' children start having their own children, over at Days 54-year-old Lauren Koslow (Kate) is grandmother to 22-year-old Rachel Melvin (Georgia).

But the example that's got me most rattled is Jane Hall, a recent addition to Gaybores. Jane's character Rebecca has just been revealed to be Oliver's mum, and yet 36-year-old Jane is only eight years older than David Hoflin. It came as a relief to me that the woman I remember playing a teenager on 'All Together Now' like, not so long ago, was not in fact in her early-mid 40s, as the Gaybores writers seem to want us to believe her character is. (I'm still cutting myself over Kyles hitting 40 and Madge 50 next year, but anyway.)

So what gives casting directors and producers carte blanche to age actresses by a decade or two? How did Jackie Woodburne, for example, go from playing a teenager in Prisoner to a mum of three teenage children in Gaybores less than 10 years later? Have the femmos been right all along? Do women just become older 'quicker'? Does the patriarchal society perpetuate the myth that once a woman hits 30 all she's good for is motherhood, and that she ages five years for every equivalent-aged bloke's one?

Even the shiny yummy mummies on Housewives have children of a credible age. Is Australia really so short of actresses they can't fit the right vintage to the right character?

It makes me think Goldie Hawn was onto something in First Wives Club: 'There are only three ages for actresses in Hollywood: Babe, District Attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy.'

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At 31/7/07 3:15 pm, Anonymous bec said...

My gilfriend (who never watches the show) happened to walk past the other night when i was watching Neighbours, and in one particularly intense scene between Oliver and his 'mother', she said 'Oh, is that his girlfriend?'. When i said that it was his mother she said 'so she had him when she was minus 12 years old?'

She is a bit of a MILF though, i might add.

At 31/7/07 3:24 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I agree bec. She's realistically MILFy for the other son she has in the show, whom she may have had at, say, 17 - but Ollie really is a stretch.

At 1/8/07 10:24 am, Anonymous Paul said...

Hi Sam,

Don't have a comment on your post, just wanted to say that I love your blog.


At 1/8/07 10:50 am, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks Paul!

At 1/8/07 10:57 am, Blogger mindlessmunkey said...

My favourite bit of absurd mother casting was in the woeful film Blow where Rachel Griffiths played Johnny Depp's mother, despite being five years younger than him. The result was incredibly convincing, as you can imagine!


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