Naomi Watts was told her career could be on the downturn almost as soon as she broke through in Hollywood.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly published Monday, Watts, 54, said that around the time she starred in David Lynch's 2001 film Mulholland Drive, she was told her career could be over by the time she hit 40 years old.
"I was told, 'You better get a lot done because it's all over at 40 when you become unf---able,' And I'm like, 'What? What does that mean exactly?' " Watts told EW.
Watts was 33 years old when she made Mulholland Drive.
"Then you think about it, and you go, 'Oh, right. When you are no longer reproductive, when those organs are no longer functioning, you are not sexy, so, therefore, you are not hirable,' " Watts added in the interview. "That just made me so mad."
Watts has defied that notion in the years since. She's credited in two films this year, Infinite Storm and Goodnight Mommy, and stars alongside Bobby Cannavale in the upcoming Netflix miniseries The Watcher on top of multiple decades' worth of starring roles and critical praise in Hollywood.
Watts is determined to help the film industry "get comfortable" with the notion of women aging as she continues to publicly speak about her own experience with menopause.
"It's such an awkward conversation because, from day one, we begin our aging process. It's something we just all have to get comfortable with and women are asked to do it more than men," Watts told EW when asked how Hollywood could do better to "allow women to age like human beings."
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty
"We don't talk about a man aging hardly ever. We don't talk about his gray hair. In fact, if we do, it's like, 'Oh, he gets more handsome, more desirable, more powerful.' And why is he powerful?Because he's accumulated experiences," Watts said.
"Well, it should be the same for women," she added. "We've got important and powerful experiences as well at this age that we should feel proud of."
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In June, Watts got candid on Instagram about menopause, admitting to her followers that the word used to "freak her out" before realizing it's "just a natural phase of life."
"When I was in my late 30s, I was finally ready to start thinking about creating a family. Then the M word swiftly blew my doors down, it felt like a head-on collision with a Mack truck. 🚚💥," Watts wrote alongside a selfie.
Naomi Watts/Instagram Naomi Watts
"How could I figure this out when no one was talking? I was earlier to it than my peers," she continued. "My mentors and mum didn't seem up for discussing it, I didn't know how to ask for help and they didn't know how to provide…. even doctors had little to say."
"It's oddly like an unwritten code of silence: women should suck it up and cope, because that's how generations passed have done it," she added.