Mary Elizabeth Winstead claims she lost acting roles because she didn't "flirt" with executives enough.

The ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ actress began her career as a child, followed by soap opera roles before transitioning to movies in her late teens, but she recalled how it was a "very lonely and confusing time" to be making a bid for big screen success in her early 20s.

She told Independent.co.uk: “It was a very lonely and confusing time to be young and starting out in this industry.

"I had many instances of going into a meeting and if I wasn’t smiley enough or coyly flirting enough – they’d say I was cold. There was that undercurrent of, ‘She didn’t flirt with me, so I didn’t like her.’ That happened all throughout my twenties.”

And whenever that happened, the 39-year-old star blamed herself and wishes now she'd opened up more about her experiences.

She said: “I only had a couple of friends who were actresses, and we never talked about these things.

"And you need to be able to talk about something with somebody else to understand that, ‘Oh, wait, this actually isn’t right – there’s something uncomfortable about this.’

"Otherwise you just think it’s normal, that you have to toe the line because no one else is saying anything about it. You accept the status quo.”

Mary recalled her audition for 'Death Proof' in 2006, where she and her fellow hopefuls were asked to wear short-shorts, tank tops and flip-flops to meet director Quentin Tarantino.

The actress admitted she'd think twice if such a request came her way now.

She said: “If that were to come to me now, I’d be like… ‘What?'

“At the time, it was just like… ‘OK! Flip-flops, check! Better get a pedicure, check!’ I didn’t question it at all. I was just so desperate to get a foot in the door.”

And the 'Birds of Prey' star wishes she'd taken herself less seriously in those days.

She said: “It’s not rocket science. We’re not curing cancer. We’re just trying to make movies. I didn’t need to feel like the most important thing in my life was making sure I had a pedicure that day.”