Why Elizabeth Banks Was Told She Couldn't Play Tobey Maguire's Love Interest

June 23rd 2016

Tricia Tongco

In a new interview with Glamour UK, actress and director Elizabeth Banks revealed that when she was 28, she was turned down for the role of Mary-Jane Watson, Spider-Man’s love interest in the 2002 superhero film.

The reason? Apparently, it was because she was considered “too old.”

She told Glamour UK:

“I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire...Tobey and I are basically the same age and I was told I was too old to play her. I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s what I’ve signed up for.'”

As Banks mentioned, she was only 16 months older than Tobey Maguire, who played the film’s lead. The actress who ended up getting the role was 18-year-old Kirsten Dunst – who was almost a decade younger than her male costar.

Banks instead got cast in another role in the Spider-Man franchise. She played secretary Betty Brant, who flirts with Peter Parker but gets much less screen time.

At least she didn't have to perform that ridiculous upside-down kiss.

Banks' experience is indicative of the widespread ageism that exists in Hollywood, which other actresses – from Carrie Fisher to Olivia Wilde – have also admitted to experiencing.

In an interview with the Howard Stern show, Wilde revealed that she was rejected for the role of Leonardo DiCaprio's love interest in "The Wolf of Wall Street" for being too old, despite being 9 years younger than the Oscar winning actor.

"I had heard for a part that I was too sophisticated," Wilde told Stern. "I was like, 'oh, that sounds nice. I like that feedback.' I didn't get the part, but I'm a very sophisticated person. And then I found out later that they actually said 'old.' I want to make a translation sheet for Hollywood that's all the feedback your agents give you and what it really means."

There's hard data to back up these frustrating anecdotes. Data compiled by TIME in 2015 found that men get the greatest number of roles at age 46, while women peak at just 30.

[h/t Jezebel]