Elizabeth Banks Was “Too Old” To Play Tobey Maguire’s Girlfriend at 28

Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant in “Spider-Man 3”

Add Elizabeth Banks to the list of actresses who have been arbitrarily found to be too old to be the love interest of a male co-star practically the same age.

Banks told Glamour Magazine, she was turned down for the role of Mary Jane Watson in 2002’s “Spider-Man” because she was too old to be the love interest of a man a mere 16 months younger than her.

Banks said: “I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire … Tobey and I are basically the same age and I was told I was too old to play her. I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s what I’ve signed up for.’”

Yes, Banks was auditioning to play a high school student — a character more than a decade younger than she was. But so was Maguire.

The role went to Kirsten Dunst, who was 18 at the time. Banks ended up playing Betty Brant in the trilogy.

Banks isn’t the first, nor will she be the last, actress to be found too old by Hollywood’s ridiculous standards. Last year, Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed that she was told she was too old to play the lover of a man nearly 20 years older than her.

“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Gyllenhaal said. “I’m 37, and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

Looking at any number of films, it’s evident that Hollywood prefers to pair younger women with older men. While such relationships exist in real life, it’s a sad standard that even a woman the same age as a man is deemed too old to be his love interest. It’s just another cog in the machine that is Hollywood sexism and discrimination against older actresses.

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