Elizabeth Banks had a small role in Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man film as Daily Bugle receptionist Betty Brandt, but she actually auditioned for the role of Peter Parker’s main squeeze Mary-Jane Watson. However, as Banks reveals in a recent Glamour U.K. interview [via Vanity Fair] , she didn’t get the part because of an all-too-familiar Hollywood double standard.
“I was told I was too old to play her,” Banks, now 42, said. “Tobey [Maguire] and I are basically the same age. I was like, ‘Oh, okay, that’s what I’ve signed up for.” The role would eventually go to Kirsten Dunst, who was 18 at the time.
When Banks auditioned for the part, she was 28, which is admittedly a bit old to be playing a high school character. Then again, Maguire was 27 at the time and got the lead role. Sadly, Banks’ experience is one shared by many other actresses. A more recent example is Olivia Wilde being told that she was too old to play Leonardo DiCaprio’s younger wife in The Wolf of Wall Street (she was 28 at the time).
Banks eventually got the role of Betsy Brandt, but as she revealed in 2008, this was offered to her as more of a consolation prize than anything.
“I was a nobody. I had no expectations of even being in that movie. The casting director called and said, ‘As a consolation prize essentially do you want to be Betty Brant?’” she added. “So it started out as a consolation prize and it’s become a favor.”
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)