Why This Oscar-Winning MCU Actress Regrets Taking on ‘Mom Roles’

A-list actresses including Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman have spoken out against agism in Hollywood. Many actresses who start on the big screen in their younger years often find roles they get offered in later years to be more limiting and stereotyped.

One Academy Award winner who joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe openly shared her regret at taking on more mother-centered roles.

Nicole Kidman, Marisa Tomei, and Rosanna Arquette attend the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium
Nicole Kidman, Marisa Tomei, and Rosanna Arquette | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner

Lea Thompson said film opportunities disappeared after she had kids

Actress Lea Thompson catapulted to fame in the 1985 film Back to the Future. Starring in several other movies including All the Right Moves, Some Kind of Wonderful and Jaws 3-D, Thompson revealed that her career on the big screen seemed to evaporate after having children.

“I did 900 movies in a row, but what happens is it all screeches to a halt when you have a baby,” Thompson said on Justin Long’s Life is Short podcast in August, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I wanna do the research on this because, once you push a baby out, you can’t be a movie star anymore.”

The Back to the Future star noted that there seems to be a different standard when it comes to adoption. “You can adopt a baby,” she said, referencing Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock who have both adopted and remain top film stars. “Once you actually create a placenta, you can’t be a movie star anymore. Does your face change that much? Or what happens?”

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Thompson added that she only appeared in one movie after the birth of her daughters. “I did The Beverly Hillbillies,” Thompson said. “After that I have never done a big feature.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal was considered ‘too old’ for a role

In a 2015 interview with The Wrap, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed that she was turned down for a film because she wasn’t considered young enough to portray the love interest of a man over 50.

“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Gyllenhaal shared. “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.”

Despite the ludicrous snub, Gyllenhaal declined on naming the film and chose to look ahead with optimism. “A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women,” she said. “I don’t feel despairing at all.” 

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Marisa Tomei would rather take on a ‘femme fatale’ role

After her Oscar win for My Cousin Vinny in 1992, actress Marisa Tomei earned street cred as an established actress. Starring in other films including The Wrestler, Anger Management, and The Lincoln Lawyer, Tomei joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 as Peter Parker’s (aka Spider-Man) Aunt May.

Now playing the mother to Pete Davidson’s character in the upcoming Judd Apatow flick The King of Staten Island, the Academy Award winner revealed that she should have passed on parts portraying the maternal figure.

“I really regret starting down this road,” Tomei said, according to Collider. “I was, you know, talked into it — not [King of Staten Island], but I mean just that change — and I really always felt like, ‘Oh, I could play a lot of things.’ Honestly, [playing a mom is] probably more of a stretch than other things.”

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Tomei shared that she tries to keep a positive attitude about her choices. “I think every actor and actress has a lot of dimensions to them and if the scope of what is being written and being made is narrow, and you want to keep working, you do what you can,” she continued. “I mean, I do. I tried it. It was maybe not the right road, but you know, I do try to make the most of it.”

As for roles she’d prefer, the In the Bedroom star was relatively open to a variety of parts. “The femme fatale, and in a noir. I still think there are other aspects of even romantic comedies,” Tomei commented. “I really love them, but you know really at a screwball level. There’s so many, many — the breadth of as much as women are, there’s so many roles.”