By Meera Menon | Women and Hollywood February 3, 2014 at 12:00PM
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."