Kristin Scott Thomas Quits Film

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by Inkoo Kang
February 3, 2014 12:00 PM
14 Comments
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After racking up nearly 80 credits to her name, Kristin Scott Thomas has declared she's tired of making movies. 

"I just suddenly thought, I cannot cope with another film," she told The Guardian"I realised I've done the things I know how to do so many times in different languages, and I just suddenly thought, I can't do it any more. I'm bored by it. So I'm stopping." 

Unsurprisingly, Scott Thomas is frustrated by the narrow spectrum of roles she is offered as an "aging actress." She doesn't want to play the "sad middle-aged woman" anymore: "[I'm] asked to do the same things over and over, because people know you can do that, so they want you to do that. But I just don't want to pretend to be unhappy anymore -- and it is mostly unhappy."

She adds, "I'm often asked to do something because I'm going to be a sort of weight to their otherwise flimsy production. They need me for production purposes, basically. So they give me a little role in something where they know I'm going to be able to turn up, know what to do, cry in the right place. I shouldn't bite the hand that feeds, but I keep doing these things for other people, and last year I just decided life's too short. I don't want to do it anymore."

There might be a small surfeit of roles for elderly actresses like Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (who never seem to stop working, thank goodness), but the film industry has little need for women in their fifties, except to play moms. Scott Thomas notes, "I'm sort of, as the French would say, 'stuck between two chairs', because I'm no longer 40 and sort of a seductress, and I'm not yet a granny."

A great illustration of her professional plight is The Invisible Woman, the 2013 film directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes about Charles Dickens' much younger mistress. Back in 1996, the 53-year-old Scott Thomas and the 51-year-old Fiennes played lovers in The English Patient. In The Invisible Woman, Scott Thomas played the mother of Fiennes' love interest, played by 30-year-old Felicity Jones. 

Scott Thomas hasn't foresworn all film roles for the rest of her life, but she definitely won't be doing studio movies ever again: "I can't bear all the kind of rubbish that goes on on those big films. I just can't stand sitting around for hours in a great big luxury trailer, waiting, bored out of my head. I used to do a lot of tapestry. Yes, I had a lot of cushions around." Regarding her last Hollywood picture, Confessions of a Shopaholic, she says, "I thought it would be quite good fun. But I spent my entire time waiting. I hated it, hated it, hated it, and I said that I wouldn't do another one."

Nor will Scott Thomas' fans be able to find her on TV, the medium where many of her peers have found creative fulfillment: "I can't do miniseries. Once you've got the characters, once you know who they are, they're going to repeat themselves, aren't they, for the next five years? It just goes on and on and on. I get terribly bored. Series bore me."

Don't despair yet. If you really need a fix of Scott Thomas, you'll find her doing theater, her new love. "When you are acting in a film, you're giving the director the raw material to make the film," she says. "But when you're acting on stage, that's it. And that's when you discover that you can really do it. It's this word 'trust' that keeps coming to me. It's not a question of whether one person is conning you into thinking you can do it, saying, 'Oh, it was beautiful.' On stage, if it works, it works."

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14 Comments

  • Kaye | March 24, 2014 9:58 PMReply

    As long as I don't have to see her in a nude scene again, I'm good!

  • Padma | February 5, 2014 6:31 PMReply

    It's funny she doesn't want to do a series because the character just repeats themselves, but she's ok with doing theater every night, where all you're doing is repeating the same performance over and over. I'm missing the point on this one.

    And if she's bored sitting around waiting, she needs to find something to occupy her time, not complain about the process of filmmaking. She sounds unhappy with herself, if she can't stand to be on her own for a few hours during the day.

  • Joseph | February 11, 2014 10:26 AM

    Dear Padma I understand your confusion though what KST says about theatre does make sense ... The writing is massively more varied for stage than in film and not just pandered to the popular will. KST is without doubt one of our finest female actors with a vast range - not just a master class in complicated soul study. And night after night on a stage it doesn't stay the same, trust me. It develops deepens moves and evolves. And once its done its done. Not recorded (at least not often and certainly not the norm ) hope that helps a bit. With kind regards and good wishes. Joe

  • scrnwrtr17 | February 4, 2014 4:41 PMReply

    As a male screenwriter who has tried for years to write compelling roles for women of all ages, I find KST's decision completely understandable yet no less disheartening. The simple truth is Hollywood has little interest in exploring much beyond facile, four quadrant, franchise material for audiences who, unfortunately, seem to yearn for just that.

  • Kratom | February 4, 2014 4:01 PMReply

    Kudos to her for stepping away from something that has become a cliche: the British milf factor. "Oh, Tilda and Cate were unavailable and now you want me? I feel so special!"

  • Nice | February 4, 2014 7:38 AMReply

    Sounds like she enjoys acting more than being in films...good for her

  • Kristine | February 4, 2014 3:50 AMReply

    I think I will somehow survive without this woman being in films.

    Instead of complaining, how about writing the perfect role? Make the change yourself. It's not like you're the only woman around of a certain age.

    I really don't like people who complain but offer no solution.

  • wombat4 | February 7, 2014 10:41 PM

    I really don't like people who police the personal experiences of others

    "no you are not allowed to speak until you find out how to fix the film industry - nay, SOCIETY"

  • 148jules | February 5, 2014 1:35 AM

    KST will be spending more time with acting on stage. Film making for the most part is monotonous, time wasting and incredibly edited. Sadly women of a certain age are not appreciated enough when the Streeps of the acting world hog all the prime roles.

  • 148jules | February 4, 2014 4:29 AM

    KST did find a solution ... read the last part of the article where it says that she is doing more theatre!

  • Amy | February 3, 2014 8:02 PMReply

    I really wish all of these fabulous women that speak out would band together, form a studio, hire women crew, hire these talented actresses, and get the films they want to make made! DO something, BE the change!

  • Barbara | February 4, 2014 1:35 PM

    Fabulous idea! Who's going to finance these films made by women? All the female corporate banks? I'm not being negative about your comment as I've been saying the exact same thing for years ( I am a retired DGA director and writer). It can all be done with financing, but after one spends 10 years trying to raise financing instead of practicing their art, one starts to feel exactly like the sentiments expressed by Ms Thomas.

  • Edward Copeland | February 3, 2014 6:40 PMReply

    Disappointing if true since she's grown into one of our best and most compelling actresses in film, usually in productions (often foreign language ones) few saw such as Tell No One, I Loved You So Long, Easy Virtue, Nowhere Boy and Sarah's Key. She also made Salmon Fishing in the Yemen watchable.

  • Joie | February 3, 2014 12:09 PMReply

    Sounds like KST needs to be on American Horror Story next season. That definitely will not bore her playing a crazy probably amazing character for only 13 episodes. RyMurphs, call her agent!!!

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