The other day, I Tweeted a link to this Vulture article in which the age of an actor is compared to the age of his female costar at the time of filming, showing that as men age, their female costars seem to stay the same age like a perky, perpetually stacked Dorian Gray. This, for instance, is Harrison Ford:
A few of my Twitter friends wondered what the chart would look like for leading ladies who have had a long career. Because I’m a party animal, last night I got totally crazy and spent like an hour on IMDB just to satisfy your curiosity.
While the Vulture team chose a sampling of ten films for each actor, I didn’t think that was particularly fair and could be subject to bias. So I included every movie in which the actress had a love interest that I could easily deduce if I hadn’t seen the film. Maybe I got some wrong. I don’t know, what does this look like? Good Chart Thursday? No. It’s Bad Chart Thursday. Deal with it.
Meg Ryan was the first actress I checked out, thinking that she was the perfect response to the Tom Hanks chart on Vulture.
As you can see, Meg Ryan’s chart clearly resembles Batman climbing up over a ledge, a fact that cannot be ignored in evaluating the data. You can also see that she has many costars who are a decade or more older than her until she hits the age of 40, at which point she starts scoring the sexy older lady roles and boning characters played by the likes of Mark Ruffalo.
If you’re interested, Meg’s mean age in this chart is 35.6 and her costar’s mean age is 39.9 (a difference of 4.3 years). Prior to the age of 40, her mean age is 31.8 and her love interest’s mean age is 37.8 (a difference of 6 years).
You guys, Julia Roberts has been in a lot of movies with male co-stars. A lot. I shoved in as many as I could. The most interesting thing about her chart, I think, is that it betrays a problem with Vulture’s chart. Vulture pointed out that Tom Hanks had never had a love interest outside a decade of his own age, but Julia has costarred with him twice and they have an 11-year difference. So nyah. Unlike Meg, Julia was able to start dating younger men as early as when she was 35.
Also: yikes, Nick Nolte. Yikes.
Julia’s mean age is 31.7 and her love interest’s mean age is 39.7 (a difference of 8 years). Prior to the age of 40, her mean age is 29.3 and her love interest’s mean age is 38.3 (a difference of 9 years).
Finally, I charted the great Meryl Streep. She’s the first one to have a chart to rival the men’s, at least from the age of 46 on (or from 40 on if you discount two outlying data points). You go Meryl Streep!
Still, on average, Meryl Streep costarred with older – sometimes much older, in the case of Clint Eastwood – actors. Her mean age here is 44.6 and her love interest’s mean age is 47 (a difference of 2.4 years). Prior to 40, her mean age is 36.7 and her love interest’s mean age is 43.2 (a difference of 6.5 years).
I could only handle three before I got completely bored of doing this, but I think you can already start to see an interesting trend in how prior to the age of 40, actresses are by and large paired with old men. After the age of 40, they get more roles that partner them with love interests who are younger than they are. Someone else should do an in-depth study of how often those older woman-younger man pairings have the characters’ ages as the driving force of the plot.
Also left unsaid in this chart is how often an actress continues to be cast as the central love interest in a film once she reaches a certain age. Someone with more time on their hands should get on that.