Despite not being a household name, Connie Britton is a marvelous actress. Since rising to fame on Friday Night Lights, she has showed off her range on American Horror Story and Nashville, and she did most of this after the age of 40, and without submitting to stereotypical “older woman” roles. Hence, I was very glad to see her get the long profile treatment in this week’s New York Times Magazine.
The profile goes over Britton’s career highlights, including a painful anecdote about how she almost got the female romantic lead in Jerry Maguire but ultimately lost out to Renee Zellweger. The more you know! But while Zellweger’s career arguably peaked in 2001 with Bridget Jones’s Diary, the 45-year-old Britton’s big break came just five years ago when she landed the role of Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights.
Even more impressively, Britton has exercised an impressive amount of creative control over her roles, refusing to do anything that might read as playing to “older woman” stereotypes. Here’s one anecdote:
No, she told the director of the pilot, she would rather not stare at her face in the mirror and pull it back aggressively to see what she would look like with a face-lift. She was uncomfortable with what that bit of direction implied about the character’s self-doubt. In the final take, which follows bad news from Rayna’s managers about her most recent record release, Britton does stare at herself in the mirror, and she does massage her face; but the scene registers emotions — fatigue, confusion — as opposed to the simulation of plastic surgery, a more interesting moment, as well as one she found less insulting.
You go, girl! She displays a similar self confidence in real life; the piece contains a gratifying tidbit about how she sometimes dates younger men, and how it’s not actually that big a deal:
“In my experience of watching Connie Britton’s dating life, it has not been Connie getting beaten out by 25-year-old girls, let’s leave it at that,” says the producer Sarah Aubrey, a friend. If Britton bristles at characterizations of a 40-year-old woman as losing her appeal, it’s because she thinks those assumptions are off-base. “Because frankly I’ve had a different experience, as a single woman,” she said. “Younger men and all that.” It’s not that she has a particular pattern of dating younger men, she clarified. “Let’s put it this way: The older you get, the easier it is to date younger men.” She laughed. “There are more of them.”
When you put it that way, it’s really just simple math. Kudos to Connie Britton for her success so far, and let’s hope she is not a freak anomaly, but a sign that things are starting to change in the eternally youth-obsessed world of entertainment.
(Via The New York Times)