Entertainment & Arts

Actresses' lines 'decrease with age', study claims

Dame Helen Mirren Image copyright AP
Image caption Dame Helen Mirren has called the gender imbalance in the film industry "outrageous"

A detailed analysis of around 2,000 film scripts has suggested that actresses are given fewer lines of dialogue the older they become.

The opposite holds true of their male counterparts, who get more lines the older they get, according to a study made by statistics website Polygraph.

Its research found that men dominated every genre, from romantic comedies to Disney animations.

That was even in the case in Disney films named after a female character.

"Even [with] films with female leads, such as [1998's] Mulan, the dialogue swings male," the study's authors claim.

In that instance, however, they concede that Mulan's role is more significant than any of the film's male character.

'Directionally accurate'

The report found that 38% of the dialogue spoken by women in the films analysed came from actresses aged between 22 and 31.

Actresses between 32 and 41 spoke 32% of the dialogue, a percentage that fell to 20% when dialogue by actresses between 42 and 65 was analysed.

When lines spoken by actors in the same age bracket was scrutinised, the percentage - 39% - was found to be almost double.

"Dialogue available to women who are over 40 years old decrease[s] substantially," the report concludes.

"For men, it's the exact opposite: there are more roles available to older actors."

The writers of the study admit their findings are "not perfect" but insist they are still "directionally accurate".

Dame Helen Mirren is among those who have called for more roles to be made available to women, possibly by having more women cast in parts where the character's gender is not specified.

"You look at a scene and it's going to be all men around a table and you think at least half of those could have been women," she told the BBC last month.

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