She is set to win the trifecta of awards for her role as Olivia Evans in ‘Boyhood’. She already swooped up the award for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and SAG awards this year, and come February 22 when the Academy Awards take place, Patricia Arquette is tipped to win the Best Supporting Actress category there also.
But it’s not just awards she is winning, it is also our deepest respect for her honest account of what women face in Hollywood. If there is anyone to comment from an authoritative place, it is Patricia, given that ‘Boyhood’ was literally filmed over a period of 12 years. You visibly see her and the rest of the cast, including Ethan Hawke, age which is not something every woman in the film industry would agree to.
You see there is an unspoken rule about women not being allowed to age, but there are outspoken women taking a stand against this. In a sense, director Richard Linklater also took a stand, which we’ll explain a little later on. In an interview with the Guardian ahead of the all-important Oscars, Patricia talks about how she has managed to not fall into the trap of believing her looks are the deciding factor in her career.
She precedes her thoughts by explaining the difference between old Hollywood and the its present iteration. Back in the golden age (1950s) unknown names were cast in major films, who then became household names. For example unknown actress Vivien Leigh being cast as Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With The Wind’.
“Now they would just cast the biggest star. Financiers don’t support their directors to cast properly. They don’t have the vision of an artist, they’re casting to spreadsheets and it’s making movies very mediocre. The movie business used to just be called the movies. Now it should be the business movies,” she says. That gives you an idea of why certain trends are they way they are, it’s perhaps less about artistry than it is marketing and money. Even George Lucas agrees with this.
With this in mind, Patricia doesn’t necessarily agree that Hollywood is changing in favor of women all that much.
” I do know, that in this movie [Boyhood] it’s all these little moments, that nobody else would put in a movie but that Rick [Linklater] would say: ‘No, this is beautiful, this is life. It doesn’t have to be this spectacular, enormous, magnificent life for it to be important.’ I haven’t seen a director spend so much time with a 46-year-old-woman reading papers and complaining about plumbing and whatever else she’s doing. Studios would say to filmmakers that ‘audiences don’t want to see that’. But now Boyhood has done really well, they’re not in a position to.”
She says the pressure on actresses to look young and sometimes unrealistic is relentless.
“You’re not supposed to age. You’re supposed to be perpetually incredibly attractive because that’s the way the movie world is. You might be 50 but you need to talk 35.”
The notion that women in America have equality, is false according to Patricia. But she managed to deal with the double standards in her career in her own way.
“I was just enough of a feminist and pissed off about this unfair expectation to deal with it. With the Sony hack, it was recognised that those actresses worked every bit as hard, they were just as valuable commodities, they had won awards, they had huge followings and big audiences yet Jennifer [Lawrence] was paid less than the men? You could argue that it’s like that across the board. Wage difference between men and women is real. It’s not just Hollywood: women judges, doctors, lawyers make less than men. The world is sexist.”
Yep, those Sony hacks revealed a LOT more than just stolen passwords, and nasty emails. But perhaps this awful intrusion was needed to make even more people aware of what is going on behind the scenes. It’s no coincidence that after the Hollywood wage gaps leaks, news broke that Charlize Theron negotiated equal pay for her upcoming movie ‘The Huntsman’ because hey, why should Chris Hemsworth be paid more simply for being younger and male?
The news that Charlize just signed a major deal to produce women-centric TV shows is an indicator of the unrest women are feeling, and therefore see no other choice than to create their own jobs. It’s working for Reese Witherspoon, and we predict it will only be a domino effect for other women in Hollywood.
It can often be a struggle for women to get funding for female-driven movies, says Patricia, but saying they “don’t exist” is a huge lie from studios.
One of the ways she has been able to not get so depressed about the state of things is detach her self-esteem from the jobs she may or may not get, and advises other girls to follow suit.
“You really have to have some sense of yourself and your own value as a human being that no one else can take away.”
But now that she is older, she faces a whole different dilemma, the aging thing. What was great about ‘Boyhood’ was that the director Richard Linklater was adamant about showing a very realistic “everyday” woman in her character.
“The only thing Rick [Linklater] didn’t want me to do was a bunch of plastic surgery, that wouldn’t make sense for that mom and we all agreed on that. He doesn’t even remember saying that, but definitely, when a lot of actors started looking strange [in the 1990s], he said: ‘Oh my god, please don’t ever do that’.”
Now that she has a teenage daughter, she can see how different the world is. Pressures still exist, but in a different way.
“It’s always difficult to be a teenage girl. I see so many mixed messages in the world around her, and my message is always: ‘You’re beautiful, you’re perfect, you’re smart, you’re funny. You’re great and you’ll find the right person for you’,” she said.
“I [also] think my role models were very different. Celebrity culture is the Kardashians. For me, it was Led Zeppelin, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Deborah Harry – what I considered cool were women who were not playing that game where looks were the be all and end all.”
We love her outlook and firm stance on who she is as a woman in Hollywood. She is right, there isn’t as much equality as we’d like to think, but it is important to remember there is progress being made. The more we hear these messages and the more inequalities are exposed, it will cause society to think critically about the deeper issues that plague our gender.
At a recent panel at the Sundance Film Festival, actor and founder Robert Redford proclaimed diversity is the “way to go” and said he was a whole-hearted champion of independent cinema.
He was asked his opinion by an audience member of what role women’s voices play in the industry these days, and here’s what he said: “I think the future-for us to move out of where we are now, and to move to something more sustainable and exciting-will be in the hands of women and young people…Women, because of their nurturing sensibilities, are the way to go. I think that’s our future.” Notice he didn’t say only young women?
It’s time to cast aside the strict pressures put on women. Hollywood’s most influential men and women need to be speaking up like Robert Redford, in order that actresses like Patricia Arquette don’t have to struggle to find roles at a certain age.