Russell Crowe has some straightforward advice for older women who can’t get work in Hollywood — they just need to act their age.

While promoting his hit film The Water Diviner in Australian Women’s Weekly, of all places, Crowe suggested that ageing actresses who are struggling to find work might be the architects of their own misery.

“The best thing about the industry I’m in — movies — is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life,” he said. “To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that (the roles have dried up) is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingenue, and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21-year-old.

“Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that’s bulls**t, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.

“I have heard of an actress, part of her fee negotiation was getting the number of children she was supposed to have lessened. Can you believe this? This (character) was a woman with four children, and there were reasons why she had to have four children — mainly, she lived in a cold climate and there was nothing to do but fornicate all day. So quit arguing, just play the role!

“The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.”

As  you’d expect, the internet has had… opinions… about Crowe’s quotes.

“If there’s one thing I look forward to more than women in film, it’s a middle aged white guy telling me what to think about women in film,” wrote Amy Gray at Junkee, in an illuminating article titled “Here’s Everything Russell Crowe Got Wrong About Women In Film”. (Did you know a 2013 gender diversity report found that women take up only 30 per cent of the roles across film and TV? And that’s including women under 40…)

“Always Full of S**t Russell Crowe Says Actresses Should Act Their Age,” went the Jezabel headline; the article by Rebecca Rose went on to slam the hypocrisy of Hollywood actors playing roles suited to younger men while asking women to act their age.

“Funny how Crowe doesn’t bother to offer any opinion about the mind boggling legacy of Hollywood men playing romantic leads to women 10, 20, 30, and sometimes 40 (!!!!!) years younger than them,” wrote Rose. “Because it’s clearly the sad old women daring to pretend they are outside their actual birth ages that are ruining Hollywood. It’s good to know that he is only bothered by the idea that women dare to expect the same treatment by studios as their ‘sexy’ older male counterparts.

“How wonderful that Crowe is thrilled that Streep plays ‘her age’. I wonder if he is as irked that people like Richard Gere, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and (Clint) Eastwood have basically laughed off the entire concept of playing their age, too? Thanks Crowe for reminding us, yet again, that women are always held in contempt for doing anything remotely similar to what their male counterparts do without reproach.”

In fairness to Crowe, Rose seems to be arguing against a point that he isn’t actually making — by pointing out that he can’t be the Gladiator forever, and slamming actors for pretending to be “the young buck” at his age, Crowe makes it clear that he thinks men should act their age, too.

Crowe’s own on-screen love interests tend to be ‘age-appropriate’; I can’t recall an example of Crowe playing the romantic lead to a woman “10, 20, 30, or 40 years younger” than him.

Regardless, Crowe is laughing all the way to the bank — his directorial debut, The Water Diviner, became the highest grossing Australian film of 2014 after just six days in release, racking up $5.68 million on 300 screens (its closest competitor, The Railway Man, had all year to gross $5.55 million).

Chin up, Rusty.