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Rhea Perlman explains why she doesn't feel pressure to fit into beauty standards: 'I just don't look that way'

Rhea Perlman talks aging and acting. (Photo: Getty Images)
Rhea Perlman talks aging and acting. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rhea Perlman is still in the game — and she's grateful for it.

"In the last 10 years, and really in the last five, there's been more [parts for women]. Not way more of them, but in the old days, there were none after a certain age," the 74-year-old tells Yahoo Life. "This last year, I've gotten to do a few things, and I was really excited to still be working — you don't know, as an actor, how much you're going to work as you get older, especially as a woman. Men seem to do fairly well — they continue working."

Perlman has a top-secret role on the finale of Peacock’s mystery series Poker Face, airing Thursday. She also starred in Tuesday's episode of Accused, a crime drama anthology in which we see the perspective of a crime from the defendant's point of view. Perlman plays a comedy club owner who gets entangled in a court case when a female comic accuses another comedian of assault.

"[My character] takes the attitude that I would have taken back in the day: If it's your career, and somebody has assaulted you who could be damaging to you in your career — you don't say anything about it," she explains. "Being a woman, it takes a lot to complain to anyone but your friends about someone being inappropriate. I've quit jobs [outside of acting] over this. But now, I get to play the part of a woman who takes the opposite attitude of what women are doing since #MeToo."

Perlman has also appeared recently on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia — and some may wonder what took so long, as she has been married to its star Danny DeVito since 1982. The couple officially separated in 2017, but have no plans to divorce. Perlman says she and DeVito, who are "extremely family oriented" and love spending time with their three kids, appreciate their alone time.

"I like not always having my husband here — I love that we see each other when we want to," she explains. "He doesn't have to take me to every function, and I don't have to take him. We can do separate things and still have a really great time when we're together."

She admits that "it's great to have the freedom to do whatever you want, to watch whatever you want, to not have the TV on if you don’t want to. But I have to say, there are times I do miss it," she says of her marriage. "It's a mixed bag."

When it comes to the pressures of fitting into the beauty standard in the industry, the Matilda star says she doesn't overthink it.

"I just don't look that way," Perlman says. "Unless I had full plastic surgery, there is no way to not be who I am. There is no way to not be who you are, if you want to be true to yourself and OK with it. Do I look at myself in the mirror when I put on makeup and say, 'Why do I have this under my eyes?' You're constantly judging your looks in this business, but also, I think women in every business are judging their looks — it's not just show business."

When it comes to how she feels about plastic surgery in general, Perlman's philosophy is all about doing what's best for you. While she admits that "it's really hard seeing yourself get older," but she makes it a point to focus more on staying physically fit — she went under the knife to get her knees replaced, for example.

"I like to exercise and keep really active and walk far and do a lot of yoga and be flexible — that's the most important thing to me, in terms of feeling good and staying healthy," she says. "I'm pretty good at eating healthy, but I like sweets and I don't stay away from things. I do whatever feels good in the moment."

Accused airs on Fox and is available to stream on Hulu. Poker Face is streaming on Peacock.

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