Ellen Burstyn encountered some ''ugly'' situations as a young model.

The 85-year-old actress has opened up about the recent sexual abuse scandal sweeping Hollywood, and insisted she was ''treated pretty well'' once she made the move from modelling to acting.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, she said: ''I've always been treated pretty well [in Hollywood]. I've had a couple of experiences; there have been a couple of dumb guys that I worked for early on. But for the most part I've always been respected. When I was a model, that wasn't true. Before I became an actress, when I was 19, 20, I had to handle some situations that were ugly.''

'The Exorcist' star explained she decided early on that she wanted to tackle powerful parts on screen, and ensure women weren't simply portrayed as ''prostitutes'' or ''victims''.

She added: ''I wanted to portray women as heroes because that's what they are. Women were either villains or wives who stayed home while their husbands went out to save the world. Or they were prostitutes. Or they were victims.

''I wanted to embody a woman as a hero, so those were the parts I was looking for. After a while, I couldn't do that any more. You get to a point where work is welcome.''

Ellen suggested her dedication to her craft and a determination to not rely on her looks for her career.

She said: ''It occurred to me, I could have a career based on my looks. But if I did, it would be a very short career and that I'd better not rely on that.

''So, I went to [Lee] Strasberg and I studied the art of acting. And it makes me so happy to be 85 and still working.''