We all know that Hollywood is ageist. Men can get older and still play dashing romantic leads and action stars, but women are too old to play a love interest as soon as they hit their 30s. So it’s sad, but not surprising, that Kelly McGillis wasn’t asked to reprise her role from the classic Top Gun. It would have been nice to see her, even if it wasn’t as a love interest for Tom Cruise.
McGillis talked to Entertainment Tonight about why she wasn’t cast, and she didn’t hold back.
“I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about,” said McGillis.
At 62, McGillis is just a few years older than Cruise, 57, and Val Kilmer, 59, who are both appearing in the sequel.
McGillis told ET that she left Hollywood to become sober and take care of her family.
“It was very challenging for me to have any kind of sense of self or self-identity or real self-worth other than what I did for a living,” she said.
McGillis’ experience reflects what many other women have experienced in Hollywood. For example, Jessica Lange told AARP that “Ageism is pervasive in this industry…You will see men in their 60s playing romantic leads with costars who are decades younger.”
I love that we are seeing richer roles for women who are in their 40s and beyond, especially on television. It may not have been intentional, but Hollywood has been sending the message that women aren’t allowed to age, for too long – cause we all do. Aging is fabulous, and it certainly beats the alternative.
I love McGillis’ honesty, and I’m glad she’s living a rich, fulfilling life. Good for her.