For Elle's annual Women in Hollywood issue, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson and Hilary Swank grace three different November covers and open up about their past showbiz struggles and where women stand today.
Paltrow, 37, is an Oscar-winning actress, who is already generating buzz for her role as a boozy country singer in December's Country Strong.
But her road to success wasn't always easy.
"When I was just starting out, someone suggested that we finish a meeting in the bedroom," she reveals. "I left. I was pretty shocked. I could see how someone who didn't know better might worry, 'My career will be ruined if I don’t give this guy a blow job!'"
She says she sometimes feels "dejected" when she looks at roles being offered to women nowadays.
"There’s a lot that’s okay, but there’s little that's really good, especially for someone my age," she says. "Sometimes you find out that something you really liked is going to someone 10 years younger. I find it heartening that Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock have been able to find and create amazing projects."
As for Hudson, 31, when she has career woes, she looks up to her inspiration, her mother Goldie Hawn.
"Apart from the fact that she’s my mother, she’s a brilliant comedian and a force as a producer," she says. "She paved the way for women to produce and star in their own films and to balance that with being the matriarch of our family is really inspiring."
She says she agrees with Paltrow that great roles for women "tend to be dispensable. I have faith that we can make female-driven films that are as interesting to men as they are to women."
Swank, meanwhile, says she can still get her hands on meaty roles.
Take her new drama Conviction, for instance, in which she plays a poor woman who becomes a lawyer to get her brother off death row
"I’d put Conviction up there with Million Dollar Baby as two of my best experiences," says the two-time Oscar winner, 36. "Sam Rockwell and I had some scenes where the director yelled and we were dropped back on Earth. You literally go someplace else. That does not happen very often."
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