April 9, 2016

Movie stars broken down by age and sex

The folks at Polygraph have a lovely set of interactive graphics of number of speaking lines in 2000 movie screenplays, with IMDB look-ups of actor age and gender.  If you haven’t been living in a cave on Mars, the basic conclusion won’t be surprising, but the extent of the differences might. Frozen, for example, gave more than half the lines to male characters.

They’ve also made a lot of data available on Github for other people to use. Here’s a graph combining the age and gender data in a different way than they did: total number of speaking lines by age and gender


Men and women have similar number of speaking lines up to about age 30, but after that there’s a huge separation and much less opportunity for female actors.  We can all think of exceptions: Judi “M” Dench, Maggie “Minerva” Smith, Joanna “Absolutely no relation” Lumley, but they are exceptions.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    steve curtis

    It intrigued me for animation films, when they create characters, how would we know they are male of female – a dragon for instance.
    So I looked up for a Disney film ( Mulan) and saw the obvious , they use real actors to do voice overs, so the gender becomes that of voice. Even more interesting was Eddie Murphy was used for the first film , but they used a ‘sound double’ ( Mark Moseley) for the follow up.

    The chart above with equal lines up to age about 30, is probably a reflection of the biggest movie goers age group.
    And there are lines spoken per movie broken down by genre. Say more lines spoken for ‘date movies’ than for action ones.
    With about 15 new movies being released in cinemas a week in UK, so you could have 800 a year that get a cinema release.
    One Disney movie they refer to Mulan, comes from 1998, so Im hoping those 2000 were randomly chosen from maybe 15,000 movies released to cinemas since then.

    1 year ago

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      I’m guessing the 2000 were chosen based on availability of screenplays.

      1 year ago

  • avatar
    Robert Pepper

    I love the evocative title of this article. My first thought on reading it was, “Aren’t we all?”

    1 year ago