Emma Thompson was told she was 'too old' to play Hugh Grant's love interest in 'Sense and Sensibility' (exclusive)

The Children Act provides an all-too rare example of age-appropriate casting, with Emma Thompson (59) paired with Stanley Tucci (57) in this story of a marriage under extreme strain.

For Thompson, age-gap casting – in which older men are paired with much younger women – has been an issue she’s struggled with for a long time.

“It’s extraordinary,” Thompson told Yahoo Movies UK.

“I remember listening to people say Hugh Grant was too young for me in Sense and Sensibility when I was 35 and he was 34. You just go, ‘Okay, this is really endemic, really deep, deep, deep in our culture.’ So it has to change.”

“I’ve been doing gags about this for centuries,” adds Thompson. “I’ve literally been doing stand up about this for thirty years. They’re going to have to exhume someone to play opposite me. That’s the gag. I just played a late night talk show host talking about that ‘What are you going to do, I’m nearly 60, I’m in Hollywood, so next time someone’s going to play opposite me, who’s it going to be? They’re going to have to dig them up.’”

“And then, interestingly, I just was working with somebody who was casting a film and they cast an actress who was about 30, and they offered the role to a guy who’s a wee bit younger than her, maybe six years, and he said ‘No, she’s too old for me.’ And I thought ‘Oh my god, that’s unbelievable, this is it, that’s what we’re up against.”

“And the more we can show actual relationships, so women with younger men, the better. Absolutely. Let’s get on with it!”

But does Thompson think the age-gap issue is indicative of the larger problems within Hollywood, and could it change with all the other changes that are happening?

“Oh yes. It’ll be generational though, it’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen because we’ve all started talking about it again. Because we’ve been talking about it and thinking about it in various ways for a long time. It’s very slow the change, but I think the #MeToo #TimesUp thing, which I’m very much involved in, and listen to and keep abreast of, and that’s just a basic starter block really.”

“It’s the young generation, it’s my daughter’s generation it’s your [Fionn Whitehead’s] generation. I mean, you’d rather chew your own arm off than go for someone who’s not interested in you.”

“My daughter just assumes she’s got more space somehow. It will change, but it will be generational. Neither you nor I will see it, but we’ll feel it.”

“I’m learning, I’m learning from them – I find it really exciting, and I’m so glad to be alive at this time,” Thompson said.

The Children Act is in cinemas on 24 August.

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