Michelle Pfeiffer Once Called out Films Where Female Actors Sold Themselves to Male Co-Stars

Actor Michelle Pfeiffer once noticed a bit of a trend regarding certain high-profile roles other female actors were getting. Passionate about the issue, Pfeiffer decided to speak up about the kind of characters her contemporaries were being known for.

Michelle Pfeiffer believed that female actors needed to make better choices when choosing roles

Michelle Pfeiffer smiling while wearing a black dress.
Michelle Pfeiffer | Joe Maher/Getty Images

Pfeiffer’s rise to Hollywood stardom was unique and yet similar to that of other women actors. She worked odd jobs and attended her junior college course semi-regularly before setting her sights on acting. After landing an agent, she earned a few television roles that would later lead to bigger films such as Scarface and Grease 2. Her work would solidify her as an A-lister at the time.

But going into Hollywood, she noticed there were still some challenges. She knew, for instance, that women faced hardship in the male-dominated entertainment industry. Even with knowledge of it beforehand, however, seeing it up close was still surprising.

“It was pretty frightening. You know, I didn’t realize it had gotten that bad. I assumed we had made much more progress than we apparently have. It seems we’ve backslid, to use a ‘born-again’ Christian term,” Pfeiffer once told LA Times.

She felt the quality roles offered to women actors were lacking. Because of this, Pfeiffer became a producer.

“I don’t have a huge interest in producing, but I do feel the shortage of interesting roles. More women need to write and actresses have to make better choices. If a movie is good, people will go see it–whether the lead is a woman or a man,” she said.

Michelle Pfeiffer once called out Hollywood for casting women in certain roles

Pfeiffer made her opinion well-known in an award speech she gave in the early 90s. While accepting the Crystal Award, the Batman Returns star took the time to address the type of roles women were being known for.

“So . . . this is the year of the woman. Well, yes, it’s actually been a very good year for women. Demi Moore was sold to Robert Redford for $1 million, Uma Thurman went for $40,000 to Mr. De Niro, and just three years ago, Richard Gere bought Julia Roberts for. . . . What was it? . . . $3,000? I’d say that was real progress,” she quipped according to LA Times.

Still, Pfeiffer asserted that she and her peers weren’t defined by this kind of culture. She also thanked those who gave her the opportunity to be in the industry and join the battle for women’s roles in Hollywood.

“I know that I am here because many of you have been here before me creating my opportunity, and I can’t think of another opportunity that I would have to thank all of you for the struggle you’ve all fought,” she added.

Meryl Streep found Michelle Pfeiffer’s speech unattractive


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Although Pfeiffer received much applause for her speech, Streep was one actor who thought it wouldn’t have been too effective. The Oscar-winner shared that the speech would only help those who felt the way Pfeiffer did.

“Well, good for her, because there’s no benefit to giving that speech — none — except in the hearts of the people you reach. Most people won’t get up and give it, but it’s a truth that everyone knows. It’s like talking about someone’s bathroom habits in public. It’s just not attractive,” Streep once told Entertainment Weekly.