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Eva Marie Saint Talks Hollywood Ageism at ‘Winter’s Tale’ Premiere

At 89, the legendary actress is starved for good parts

“Winter’s Tale” marks the first time in eight years, since 2006’s “Superman Returns,” that legendary screen actress Eva Marie Saint has appeared in a movie. What took her so long? “I don’t know,” Saint, 89, said on Tuesday night at the premiere of her new film. “As you get older, there aren’t that many roles.”

“It’s not England,” she continued, “where a Maggie Smith or Judi Dench go for parts. We have a different attitude about older actresses. Because I’m still healthy, I don’t want to play a person who is in bed dying. I choose not to.”

The red carpet premiere at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater included appearances by the Warner Bros. movie’s stars Colin Farrell, William Hurt and Matt Bomer, along with director Akiva Goldsman. Ron Howard also attended the film and after-party at Metropolitan Club.

This “Winter’s Tale” is based on the 1983 fantasy novel by Mark Helprin (not the Shakespearean play of the same name), and some of the actors were initially confused. “When I opened the front page, I expected to see Leontes and the Shepherd,” Hurt said. “I played the Shepherd once at Juilliard.”

Hurt added that he hadn’t read the book yet. “A lot of the time, especially when I don’t have a lot of time to prepare, I won’t really go near the book,” Hurt explained. “It can be distracting because literary structure and film structure are really very different. They are totally different. What you’re doing is the movie, you’re doing the script on the page.”

Farrell noted another distraction behind the scenes. The New York-set fable began shooting three weeks before Hurricane Sandy washed over the East Coast in October 2012.

“It delayed production by two weeks,” Farrell said. “I was up on 58th Street. It was a socio-economic line on 38th, where south of 38th, mad things were going on. People were stuck. I was north of the line of privilege.”

He didn’t mind the miserable weather. “Yeah, it was cold, but it was beautiful,” he said. “The whole thing is called ‘Winter’s Tale’ so it seemed fitting.”

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