Patricia Clarkson on Hollywood sexism: 'A white male actor should never be allowed to complain about anything'

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Patricia Clarkson, your chosen spirit guide and an all-around indelible delight, has some keen advice for the white men out there feeling ornery about Hollywood's infinitesimal degree of progress: Shut up. Clarkson was speaking with The Guardian about Hollywood sexism and its many, many faces when conversation turned to the ridiculous fracas over the new Ghostbusters, a film that dares to put women front and center where men once stood. It's best just to let Clarkson break it down: "There are still so many movies made starring 50 men and one woman! ... A white male actor should never be allowed to complain about anything. Shut up and sit in the corner." Clarkson sees particular nonsense in the outrage given that as a women-fronted mainstream comedy, Ghostbusters is already an enormously scarce quantity. "I mean, seriously! The odds of us having films made which star women ... Everyone still references one movie: Bridesmaids! Ghostbusters is a great thing," she explained. Clarkson also called out the uniquely hyper-intense way that women-led films are scrutinized. Asked about the pressure on Ghostbusters to succeed, Clarkson said, "Men make bad movies that bomb all the time but they're like, 'Oh, well, we didn't do the marketing right.'" Her succinct response to the hypocrisy: "Eat me!"

While the gendered reaction to Ghostbusters is discernible to anyone looking, Clarkson also opened up about a career filled with firsthand slights. Eight years ago, she learned that her male co-star was making more money than her, so she "absolutely" demanded that the disparity be corrected. Clarkson has also "had people act inappropriately to me ... I've had certain directors yell at me," but while Clarkson says she "didn't stand for it" at the time, only now does she see more people speaking out. It's incremental progress. "Women have risen," sure, but, "We're still underpaid and we're still a vast minority in this business."

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Patricia Clarkson on Hollywood sexism: 'A white male actor should never be allowed to complain about anything'
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Patricia Clarkson arrives for the UK gala screening of 'Learning To Drive' at The Curzon Mayfair on June 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Patricia Clarkson arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the 15th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts' 50th Anniversary Gala at The New York Public Library - Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on February 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Patricia Clarkson attends the 'Our Mother's Brief Affair' Opening Night at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on January 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the 'Joy' New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Patricia Clarkson attends New York Women In Film And Television's 35th Annual Muse Awards at New York Hilton on December 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the Housing Works' Fashion for Action 2015 at the Rubin Museum on November 19, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Housing Works)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends Hollywood Foreign Press Association and InStyle Celebration of The 2016 Golden Globe Award Season at Ysabel on November 17, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the 7th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Actress Patricia Clarkson attends the 'Spotlight' New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on October 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Patricia Clarkson attends Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program luncheon at Locanda Verde on October 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Patricia Clarkson attends Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program luncheon at Locanda Verde on October 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)
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Of course, in Hollywood, as anywhere, sexism is insidiously multi-pronged, and Clarkson sees as much to fix on the creative side as the business one. "We always tend to want to soften female characters ... Well, unless it's some ridiculous caricature like a dominatrix or a one-dimensional boss with no life and bad hair." And the problem gets worse when women age out of ingenue roles, with Clarkson sifting through "desexed, matronly" characters in the search of a good opportunity. Says Clarkson, "These archetypal older women in movies can sometimes make my skin crawl." Yeah, eat me sounds just about right.


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