Even Anjelica Huston Doesn’t See Good Parts for Women Over 40

Interviews with a point.
Sept. 30 2011 7:20 AM

Questions for Anjelica Huston

The Oscar winner talks about memoir writing, roles for women, and her storied family.

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Slate: I know you’ve done a lot of TV work in the past 10 years, and you’re continuing to get work with shows like Smash. There’s a stereotype that it’s easier for women over 40 to find meaty, good roles in television. Has that been your experience? Or are those just the projects that have piqued your interest in the recent past?

Huston: I think television is a savior for actresses, particularly right now, and I guess actors, too. But there are more meaty, interesting roles for women than ever before on television, which is a good thing, because there are less in film, by the day [laughs], by the hour.

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Slate: Since you’ve been in the business so long, can you pinpoint the time when things did change for the worse?

Huston: With female roles, it’s always been difficult. Particularly since one actress gets all the great ones, and the rest of us scurry around to kind of beat each other for the other ones. I’m sick of making excuses for the fact that there are very few good roles for actresses. Over the years I try to be positive. But in the long run, when you really look at it, I think it’s sort of a bit sad, because there are so many women out there, I think, aching to see good work, and to identify and all of that.

Slate: Absolutely. And you’d think that women being in positions of power in the studios would help matters, but that doesn’t seem to change anything.

Huston: Not at all. Not at all. I think they just cast their favorite male stars. But you know, once in a while a great role comes along, and even though it might be a supporting role like this one, it’s a great role, and one that I can really identify with, and sink my teeth into, and explore. But certainly on television there are a lot of great opportunities now for women, and I’m so happy to see my friend Julianna Margulies doing so well in The Good Wife. That’s reassuring.

Slate: You directed Bastard out of Carolina for TV back in the ‘90s, which I absolutely adored and you had such great source material with Dorothy Allison’s novel.

Huston: Well, thank you.

Slate: Are there any other books that you’ve loved recently and want to develop?

Huston: There are two really wonderful books by the author James Kunstler. One is called The Witch of Hebron, and another called World Made by Hand, that I’ve been talking to some networks about, so I think they’d be amazing as a mini-series or as a series. Hopefully somebody will recognize their potential, because I think they really would be wonderful.