Switch him for her: 5 fantasy female recasts


New research has revealed astonishing figures on women in film. The study, titled ‘It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World’ by Dr Martha Lauzen of San Diego University, took a closer look at the top-grossing 100 films released in the US last year, and found that only 13 per cent featured equal numbers of male and female characters, or more female characters than male.

It also showed that a larger proportion of male characters (21 per cent) than female characters (8 per cent) were portrayed as leaders. As writer Sarah Steel wrote in her guest blog on IndieWire this week, ‘”Male as default character” is an easy pattern to fall into, particularly when the majority of screenwriters are still male. I’ve used default-male characters in two-thirds of my own short films. It will require a concerted effort from filmmakers, both male and female, in order to spur on progress that has halted.’

So, with a view to helping challenge this ‘male as default’ pattern, I’ve hand-picked five actor-actress switches I’d love to make, for 5 classic movies… Tell me what you think.

1 The Bourne Supremacy: Matt Damon for … Jennifer Lawrence Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 16.56.36

Jennifer Lawrence as Jason Bourne. How awesome would that be? She has the grittiness, physique and screw-loose mentality to nail it as an anti-hero action lead. Silver Linings, Hunger Games and American Hustle – plenty evidence enough. How can we make this happen?


2 American BeautyKevin Spacey for… Julianne MooreScreen Shot 2014-04-07 at 16.58.54

There’s something of a confliction captured in Julianne Moore’s face sometimes; wearied through experience but spirited and in search of excitement. The character of Lester Burnham in American Beauty, with his superbly tragic mid-life-crisis – would be a perfect fit for The Kids Are Alright and A Single Man actress.


3  Se7en: Brad Pitt for… Scarlett JohanssonScreen Shot 2014-04-07 at 17.00.47

Scarlett in a charismatic, maverick, detective role? That could totally work. She’s got the screen presence, youthfulness, sauciness and vigour to do exactly what Brad Pitt does in this flick, which is to provide the light in some very dark and grim scenes.


4 Casino Royale: Daniel Craig for… Emily Blunt

Controversial, right? How can one fathom turning arguably fiction’s most macho male character into a female? Well, it Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 17.02.27might take a few minor tweaks but it so could be done. You’d need a woman with a fair amount of nouse, quick wit and natural Britishness. Oh hello, Emily Blunt.


5 Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger for …. Diane Kruger

Not sure if it’s the German accent, steely eyes or almost mannequin-porcelain beauty, but Diane Kruger would make a terrific cyborg. Or, more specifically, a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Terminator. Just imagine that laser-red eye tearing up the screen, and then of course that slightly higher-pitched, ‘I’ll be back.’Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 16.06.39


And while we’re on the subject, here are 5 of my favourite female leads…

  1. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien (1979)
  2. Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  3. Hilary Swank’s Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  4. Julia Roberts’ Erin Brockovich (2000)
  5. Natalie Portman’s Evey in V for Vendetta (2005)

Who’d be on your fantasy female recasts list?



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