January 18, 2019

Elizabeth Banks Was Seen as “Too Old” to Play Mary Jane in Original “Spider-Man”

Elizabeth Banks

The ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ director says she was perplexed by the snub because she and Tobey Maguire were ‘basically the same age.’

Elizabeth Banks opens up on her audition for the original Spider-Man movie years ago. The actress played Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary at The Daily Bugle, but she initially auditioned for the role of Mary-Jane Watson – only to get rejected due to her age.

“I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire,” she told Glamour magazine. “Tobey [Maguire] 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’.”

Banks, 28 at the time, lost the role to Kirsten Dunst. Despite the snub, she feels grateful for the “longevity” of her career. “I was never a flavor of the month. I feel very comfortable that I will be working in this industry for a while,” she said.

Elizabeth Banks is not the only actress ageism in Hollywood. Olivia Wilde also had a similar experience when auditioning for Leonardo DiCaprio’s love interest in “The Wolf of Wall Street”. She was 28 and Leo was 37 back then.

“The funniest thing I heard recently was, I had heard for a part that I was ‘too sophisticated,’ Wilde told Howard Stern. “I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds nice. I like that feedback. I didn’t get the part but I’m a very sophisticated person.’ Then I found out later they actually said ‘old.’ ”

She added, “I want to make a translation sheet for Hollywood that’s all the feedback your agents give you and what it really means.”

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