Oprah: And the solution involves more than just creating roles for women over 40. The issue is how we view ourselves as women and what we expect of one another. It's ultimately about what we value.

Meryl: We devalue ourselves, and we really have to stop that.

Oprah: We've all heard women saying of other women, "She's too old for that," "She shouldn't be wearing that," or "Can you believe she's with a man ten years younger?"

Julianne: Nine.

Nicole: Go, girl!

Oprah: Julianne, how did turning 40 feel—traumatic, exciting, wonderful?

Julianne: I'm with Meryl—I've considered the alternative, so I feel fortunate. I'm so happy with my life, my relationships, my family, my job. You can make something difficult by bringing attention to it, by saying, for instance, "I have a really big behind—have you noticed?" Then everybody's going to turn around and look at your behind.

Oprah: If your behind is big, they've probably already noticed!

Julianne: But you don't have to hammer on it.

Nicole: It all comes back to women supporting other women. We're often too tough on one another. I have a girlfriend [actress Naomi Watts, who starred in Mulholland Drive and, most recently, The Ring]— someone I've known since I was 14—whose film career is taking off. Everyone is saying to me, "How are you two going to stay friends?" I'm like, "What are you talking about?" When you're generous of spirit, it comes back to you. Many women don't learn that early enough, and they don't teach it to their daughters. We really have to stick by one another. And when you hit the big crises—boy, your female friends are the ones there for you.

Oprah: I saw this T-shirt once that said HUSBANDS COME AND GO, BUT BEST FRIENDS ARE FOREVER. Nicole, at 35, do you even think about aging?

Nicole: When I was first asked to play Virginia Woolf, some people said, "Don't play older." And then I wanted to do it just because they'd said that. As an actress, you can play all different ages for quite a while. That's why a lot of female performers don't reveal their age. You get boxed in.


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