Elizabeth Banks Says She Was Deemed ‘Too Old’ for 2002 ‘Spider-Man’ Role

Elizabeth Banks
Peter Brooker/REX/Shutterstock

Elizabeth Banks didn’t need “Spidey sense” to pick up on signs of age discrimination when she auditioned for Mary Jane Watson in 2002’s “Spider-Man” at the age of 28.

“Tobey and I are basically the same age — and I was told I was too old to play her,” Banks told Glamour UK, referring to the film’s lead, Tobey Maguire, who is about 16 months her junior. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s what I’ve signed up for,'” she said.

The role would go to Kirsten Dunst, who was 18 years old. Banks was cast in the film, but in a supporting part.

Banks’ anecdote is the latest coming from a number of actresses who have spoken out about the age gap between male actors and their female romantic counterparts. In March, Olivia Wilde said she was deemed “too old” to play opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Last year, Maggie Gyllenhaal expressed similar encounters with sexism in the industry.

Still, Banks said she does not take her career trajectory in Hollywood for granted. “What I’m grateful for now is longevity,” she said. “I was never a flavor of the month. I feel very comfortable that I will be working in this industry for a while.”

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  1. mikejudge says:

    thank god don’t need a 28 year old to play high schooler, smart decision

  2. Doesn’t she have some infomercials to plug? She was a DECADE older than Kirsten Dunst, and Banks certainly doesn’t have Maguire’s “youthful appearance” going for her. What another non-story Variety uses as click bait.

  3. Jjlopes says:

    Let’s see here…. The spiderman character is supposed to be a high school teen. Tobey M still looked very young at age 26, when he played the character. Im doing a little math here. Bank’s stated she was 28 when she auditioned or the role of Mary Jane and she is now 42, while Tobey is 40. So, she auditioned for the role of a high school girl. Banks has always looked mature and at 28 she probably looked her age, not that of a teen, while Dunst looked more like a teen, therefore rightfully getting the part. The role calls for a teenage girl, not a 28 year old woman. Tobey looked like a teen at 26, again rightfully getting his part. This is how the comic goes… High school superhero with a high school girl friend. I’m sorry that some ppl look younger than others but you can’t go changing history around because it hurt your feelings. And YES! Spiderman is a part of American pop culture history. Would Banks be happy if the MJ character was a 30 year old woman molesting a high school boy? Or would she rather the whole movie be rewritten so that it fit her age at the time? Come on! Get over yourself lady!

  4. There is certainly an age discrimination problem in Hollywood. This is not an example

  5. Alex says:

    28yr old Elizabeth Banks was too old to play a high schooler?? Outrage, OUTRAGE I say!

    Look, Toby is a baby face man and casting him for Spidey (looks-wise) was still questionable. But sure, let’s keep this “everyone’s a victim” fad rolling. It’s really elevating our society at a fantastic rate.

  6. newtemplar says:

    Elizabeth Banks is awesome.

  7. It’s not that Banks and these other actresses were too old or looked too old, it’s just that these gorgeous, talented women make metro-sexual boy-men like decaprio and maguire look really bad in comparison.

    • Marie says:

      It’s not a beauty contest, it’s a movie. Margot Robbie is GORGEOUS and talented. She was casted to play Dicaprio’s wife in Wolf of Wall Street.

  8. Alex says:

    I’ve got bad news ya Liz you really were to old for the part now please stop complaining, it’s not getting old, it’s now old.

  9. millerfilm says:

    So, now every time a woman or a minority doesn’t get a part, it will immediately be “because” of their age, race, gender, whatever? C’mon, gut it up, do a good job in your audition, and if you don’t get the part, don’t whine about it!

  10. Lol says:

    Nope, can not see her playing Mary Jane.

  11. Adam says:

    she’s only 28? she looks like she in her late 40’s. sure kirstin dunst wasn’t good but casting Elizabeth Banks, who again looks like she’s in her 40’s, would have made it look like peter parker was into moms lol

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