The 37-year-old The Dark Knight star's experience of ageism in Hollywood initially left her fuming, but she couldn't help but laugh once she had time to digest the executive's remark.

The actress refuses to name the man behind the comment or the project he ruled her out of, but she tells, "There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time... It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

Despite the negative incident, Gyllenhaal remains hopeful she will continue to receive opportunities to play strong women on film.

She says, "A lot of actresses are doing incredible work right now, playing real women, complicated women. I don't feel despairing at all. And I'm more looking with hope for something fascinating."

Ageism has long been a hot topic in Hollywood, amid concerns writers and directors are failing to create great leading roles for mature women onscreen.

Actor Russell Crowe stirred up controversy earlier this year (15) when he dismissed the ageism argument, stating, "There are roles for people in all different stages of life", prompting self-confessed feminist Jessica Chastain to fire back, "I think he's getting his foot stuck in his mouth."