The film industry has a woman problem.
If you’re even remotely interested in films, this news won’t come as a shock to you. The percentages of women in key roles in the film industry are pitiful, especially in some of the technical aspects (here’s looking at you, cinematography). And that’s before you get onto the women onscreen – how their characters are presented, how they’re treated as clothes horses in the media, and God forbid they should earn as much as the men.
So when it was announced that an all-female Ghostbusters was in the works, I was quite positive about it. Yes, it’s still directed by a man and it seems you can’t greenlight a female-led comedy without Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig (both of whom I love), but at least Paul Feig seems to give a shit about women and I can see how the new cast will work.
Nobody’s going to say that remakes are always (or ever) a good thing. That said, I get the logic of a female-fronted Ghostbusters: novelty value! Bridesmaids success! Kristen Wiig! I’m less impressed by the shared universe idea which has come into play. In fact, the all-male Ghostbusters that we’ll see soon after looks like a backup plan in case the women cock it up. “Don’t worry guys, we know you don’t want women in charge of the ghost-busting so we’ll make sure there’s men on staff as well!”
Unsurprisingly, this has all been a bit controversial, but it’s clearly got people thinking about gender and character in film. In a recent edition of the Empire Podcast, writers from the magazine were asked about the films they’d like to see recast with female ensembles. Helen O’Hara, one of precious few women to get bylines in the mag (I complain but I’m still a subscriber), came up with the perfect answer: Predator, without a word of the script changed.
That’s not just brilliant because there’s a dire need for a female ensemble cast that kicks ass for once, but because it would be really liberating to hear women engaging in the kind of blunt, open and often sexually charged dialogue that’s traditionally gendered male. Women bragging about getting laid, failing at telling dirty jokes, eschewing personal hygiene to play with guns. And if it makes people uncomfortable: good. Let them ask themselves why.
Anyway, it got me thinking about films that could work if they were recast with women.
Dutch: Olivia Wilde, because I think she could handle herself, swear with style and has about the right level of swagger. Failing that, get Emily Blunt in, but after Edge of Tomorrow I feel she’s too obvious a pick.
Blain: Emma Stone. She has a frankness that makes me want to hear her talk about being a “goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus”.
Billy: Alex Rice, who is a Mohawk by birth. Don’t judge her for Twilight.
Dillon: Kerry Washington. You know she’s got a strong handshake.
Mac: Viola Davis. Not someone you think of when you think “action”, but she carries herself in such a way that if she could be persuaded to spew forth some profanities she could totally pull this off.
Poncho: Elpidia Carillo, because she deserves a promotion.
Hawkins: Quite a difficult one to cast, but Lena Dunham in that hat and those glasses would be hilarious.
The most macho of all the macho films, filled with swearing, filthy humour and really, really big guns. Don’t change a thing.
Let’s cast the six Dogs in question (and no, we don’t call them bitches now):
Mr White: Frances McDormand
Mr Orange: Chloe Grace Moretz
Mr Blonde: Tilda Swinton
Mr Pink: Emma Stone
Mr Blue: I’m not sure what she’s up to these days, but this would be awesome as a brief role for Kathy Bates. Just to have her in there, really.
Mr Brown: Missi Pyle
Hanna: Sigourney Weaver
McCauley: Tilda Swinton
In a lot of ways this film is all about masculinity, but that’s one of the reasons I think it would be interesting to see a female-led version. I’d love to see a version with these two women, who can both be wonderfully reserved and then get up in your face and make it terrifying.
That scene would be magical. Get Kathryn Bigelow to direct.
OK, so I would like to see Melissa McCarthy in the Bob Paulsen role once played by Meat Loaf, but this isn’t a match based entirely on body type. I actually think this is a win-win – McCarthy has a certain image now, and it’s the same “big and jolly” sort of stereotype that Rebel Wilson gets stuck with in the younger age bracket. She has the physicality that suits the character, but I feel both McCarthy and the audience (read: me) would really enjoy her playing a more damaged, serious character. (Fight Club is blackly hilarious, but it only works because the characters take it so seriously.)
For the big roles:
Tyler Durden- Margot Robbie
The Narrator- Elizabeth Olsen
I get the feeling these two could work very well together as distinct identities within the same person. Neither of them would be scared to get their hands dirty, either, so I reckon they’d be great for the fight scenes. Angel Face is Keira Knightley (I call it the “porcelain effect”).
Any Bond film
007- Naomie Harris
Was anyone else just a little annoyed that Moneypenny ended up behind a desk because she “failed” at Bond’s job? When it was first announced that Harris would play “Eve, a field agent”, I heard the rumours she would be playing Moneypenny but dared to hope this might mean a reinvention of the character. Skyfall was great, but how wrong I was.
As it happens, I think Harris would be a perfect choice as a field agent: charming, intelligent and capable of kicking ass when she needs to. I’d love to see her take on a big role like this – and see a bunch of middle-aged white guys cringe at the idea of a black, sexually liberated female seducing vacuous men and saving Britain’s bacon.
The fact that I haven’t even mentioned Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep or Jennifer freaking Lawrence demonstrates just how much talent is out there. But equally, the pool of women getting the big movie gigs is still depressingly small. Maybe we should just work on writing enough interesting female characters for everyone.