Elizabeth Banks Told She Was Too Old To Play Mary Jane Watson In Spider-Man Movie

Banks Dunst

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films are looked on fondly, even in comparison to the well-received debut of Tom Holland's Spidey in this year's Captain America: Civil War.

That doesn't mean that those films did everything right, however, and I'm not even referencing that whole Venom debacle. Actress Elizabeth Banks played Betty Brant in the trilogy, but she actually auditioned for Mary Jane Watson, a part that ultimately went to Kirsten Dunst.

That would be all well and good if the producers just liked Dunst's take on the character over Banks' version, but the determining factor was actually far more petty than that, as she expressed to Glamour U.K. (via Vanity Fair).

"I was told I was too old to play her" Banks recalled. She was 28 at the time of the audition, and ironically Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire was only a year younger. "Tobey and I are basically the same age." she added, but she quickly came to understand how Hollywood works.

"I was like, 'Oh, O.K., that's what I've signed up for.'"

In a previous interview back in 2008, she shared a bit more of the conversation she had with producers (via Chud.com).

"I auditioned to play Mary Jane Watson and [producer] Laura Ziskin said 'She's too old.' It's fine. I'm a lot older than Kirsten Dunst, so I get it. I'm not much older than Tobey, but. . . . But I got it back then. And I was a nobody. I had no expectations of even being in that movie. The casting director called and said, 'As a consolation prize essentially do you want to be Betty Brant?' So it started out as a consolation prize and it's become a favor.'"

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It's the latest example of just how far Hollywood skews towards men. An older man is perfectly acceptable in practically any type of part, but women don't have that same luxury. We saw it in play again recently, when Olivia Wilde shared a story of her being told she was too old for Scorcese's The Wolf of Wall Street, where she would've played the part of Leonardo DiCaprio's wife, a part that ultimately went to Margot Robbie. Both Robbie and Dunst were great in their respective roles, but their age really shouldn't be the deciding factor.