Are childless actresses convincing when they play mum roles?

Well, according to one British actress, the answer’s no. But what do you think?

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What do Helen Mirren and Jennifer Aniston have in common? According to veteran Brit actress Anne Reid, it’s a possible lack of authenticity that can exist when actresses who aren’t mums in real life tackle roles where they have children. Anne, 75, who most recently graced the small screen in the BBC One historical drama Upstairs, Downstairs, said to the Radio Times, “People will shoot me for saying this but I see people playing mothers who haven’t had a child and – I don’t know – I think you kind of have to have been there. Because it’s a gut thing, isn’t it?”

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But does Anne have a point, or is this merely down to the quality and range of an actress’ skills when playing a part? Weak portrayals of mums on screen that haven’t quite hit the spot could just be due to poor preparation and acting. Equally, there are some renown actresses most notably from cinema’s golden age, who played outstanding mums on screen but floundered off-screen (think Joan Crawford, Judy Garland).

And what about male actors who have successfully played dads without any prior experience of parenthood? Interestingly enough, Spanish actor Javier Bardem was yesterday nominated for an Oscar for his gritty performance in Biutiful, where he plays an embattled single father struggling to raise his children – on the same day that his real-life partner, Penelope Cruz, is rumoured to have given birth to their first child.

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Do you agree with Anne, or think she’s missed the point of what good acting is all about?

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