There was a bit of an uproar when Marisa Tomei was cast as Peter Parker's Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming, out July 5. But while Tomei, 50, is willing to jokingly acknowledge her advancing years—"I did get old!" she exclaims to the Guardian upon realizing this year marks the 25th anniversary of her Oscar-winning role in My Cousin Vinny—she also points out that the version of Parker in this film is only 15. "[May is] his aunt by marriage to his uncle Ben. So she could be elderly or pretty young, depending what age she met her husband." And while she doesn't think her casting is an example of ageism in Hollywood, she admits, "Well, I only got to be old very recently. The industry has decided I’m an aunt-type now." She believes sexism is the bigger issue, noting that women not only make less money, but get fewer speaking roles and leading roles.
As for her role as Aunt May, Tomei sees her version of the Marvel comic book character as a bit of a second-wave feminist. "We considered making her a pro bono lawyer, but didn’t want her to wear suits. Instead we made her a book lover who has her own small publishing firm, like a female collective. She’s got a feminist and humanist edge—at least in my head," Tomei says. She also just might be a little sexier than you remember: "I decided that maybe [Parker's uncle Ben] was her professor. I gave it that sexy, naughty little twist in my mind. That’s not in the movie, by the way. 'A young, hot Aunt May' isn’t really a character description, so I fleshed out my own mental picture of who she is." She adds that it's a good thing she didn't initially realize Aunt May has been viewed in the past as "a grey-haired pensioner." Click for the full interview. (Read more Marisa Tomei stories.)