Hedy Lamarr was ahead of her time. Refusing to be boxed in by stereotypes placed on women in Hollywood and wanting to be respected for her brains, not her beauty she famously said that ‘no one ever really saw her’. She was a feminist for her time, an icon who deserves to be seen through a fresh lens, especially given the new period of women’s liberation that we currently find ourselves in. So would have Hedy been at the forefront of the Time’s Up movement today? Both Dean and Sarandon agree that she would be.
“In my business it’s all about your sexual currency, whether you actually deliver to anyone in charge or get a job that way”, Sarandon says. “People hire women that they want to be with or men that they want to be, and anyone that falls in between is a character actor. I’m sure that Hedy was very aware of this, how do you think she got that contract in the first place. She was, of course, very sexy.”
“Now a woman should have the choice about how they use their sexuality. We can’t condemn someone, we can’t slut shame somebody for embracing their seductiveness, but at the same time you want to have enough power and economic stability to say no, to not be in a Harvey Weinstein situation where your work is held hostage and you’re forced to do things you don’t want to do. It’s an odd business because this sexual currency is going all the time, and I think that is part of the problem. When a lot of your identity is based on your seductiveness and looks, and then that starts to come into question, how do you survive? How do you survive in your own head and what do you do to hold on to what you have been convinced in your strong suit. That’s why you get put out to pasture at 40, that’s why I was told that it would be over at 40! I’m sure that Hedy would align herself with women that are being strong now, but it’s always been tricky for women.”
And as for Hedy? She was finally inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014, 14 years after her death. Though it took years, and she never received proper renumeration for her history altering invention, at least history finally got it right.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is released in cinemas today, including an extended run at BFI Southbank