Tuesday 25 April 2017

Glenda Jackson: I'm bored of scripts about growing old

Glenda Jackson arriving for The Oldie of the Year Awards at Simpsons in the Strand, central London.
Glenda Jackson arriving for The Oldie of the Year Awards at Simpsons in the Strand, central London.

By Julia Hunt

Glenda Jackson believes age and gender are too often a factor when it comes to getting acting parts.

Oscar-winner and former politician Glenda Jackson says she wishes directors would send her scripts that are about more than simply being elderly.

The 80-year-old, who started acting in the 1950s, recently returned to the stage after standing down as a Labour MP following 23 years in the Commons.

But she told Radio Times that age and gender were too often a factor when it came to roles.

“It would be nice if someone sent me a contemporary play with an old person in it that wasn’t just about old age,” she said.

Glenda – who has previously bemoaned the lack of decent parts for females – also said actresses were still “on the sidelines” because writers did not seem to find women entertaining enough.

“I cannot understand why creative writers do not find women interesting,” she said.

“Even contemporary ones.

“Men are still almost invariably the dramatic engine, women on the sidelines.

“In film, there was a period when really the only reason to have a woman was to show that the guy wasn’t gay.”

The star’s return to the stage last year was as Shakespeare’s King Lear, traditionally a male role.

“What I find really interesting about getting older is that those gender-defining barriers begin to fray,” she said.

“They get mistier, less absolute. We are not stuck in the business of how men and women react differently.”

But Glenda also quipped that being in her 80s could have its advantages.

“I once said blithely that when I finished being an MP I was going to form an old people’s robbery group,” she joked.

“Everybody ignores old people so we could shoplift and burgle till the cows come home.

“It still comes as a shock to me when somebody stands up and offers me their seat on the bus or the Tube.”

Glenda also discussed her life in politics during the interview, suggesting that her careers in acting and politics were not entirely dissimilar.

She said: “In a way, the best politics and best theatre are trying to answer the same questions – who are we, why are we, how do you create a society where there is genuine acknowledgement of the individuality of every single person on this Earth?

“How can we work and live together with those differences between us as individuals? The really good end of both theatre and politics is just trying to show us how difficult it is.”

But talking about the current climate, she said the political landscape was “dystopian”.

The age of Brexit, US President Donald Trump and terrorism was “a new landscape,” she said. “And I get the feeling nobody knows what to do. Not at all.”

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