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Maggie Gyllenhaal Was Too Old To Play A 55-Year-Old's Love Interest. At 37.

05/21/2015 01:41 EDT | Updated 05/21/2015 02:59 EDT

When is an actress' "last f***able day" in Hollywood?

For Maggie Gyllenhaal, it apparently came at the age of 37.

The Oscar-nominated star of films such as "The Dark Knight," "Crazy Heart" and now the BBC and Sundance miniseries "The Honourable Woman" was recently told she was too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man, she said in an interview with The Wrap.

"It was astonishing to me," she told the publication. "It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

Gyllenhaal wouldn't say what the production was. But her rejection nevertheless speaks to the challenges women face landing prominent roles in mainstream films.

San Diego State University's Center for Study of Women in Television and Film has reported that women only made up 12 per cent of the protagonists in the highest-grossing films of 2014.

They also accounted for 29 per cent of all major roles and 30 per cent of speaking parts. Those stats showed no change from the previous year, and only slightly more than there were in 2002.

Roles for women were younger than ones for men. They were more likely to be defined by their personal lives, while male characters were more likely to be associated with work.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called for an investigation into Hollywood's "systemic failure" to hire female directors.

The union has noted that there are fewer women working as filmmakers today than there were 20 years ago. Women made up seven per cent of directors on the top 250 grossing films of 2014, which was two points less than in 1998.

Gyllenhaal's statement also bore out the premise of the Amy Schumer sketch "Last F***able Day," in which actresses Patricia Arquette, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tina Fey jokingly lament the lack of roles for aging women.

"In every actress' life, the media decides when you finally reach the point where you're not believably f***able anymore," Louis-Dreyfus says in the video.

The actresses then reflect on losing romantic roles to younger women ... opposite older stars like Jack Nicholson.

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