Monday, July 26, 2010

Michelle Rodriguez says NO to the 'token female role'.

Interviewed by Drew Morton at The Playlist over the weekend while promoting Battle: Los Angeles at Comic Con, Michelle Rodriguez was asked how she felt regarding her being typecast as the 'tough chick'.

"Oh baby, I was typecast the minute I did a film called, Girlfight years ago. That has nothing to do with anything, it just to do with... you allow yourself to be typecast. If I decided I didn't want to be typecast tomorrow I'd just go do an indie film where I play some poor girl who goes through some excruciating experience and win myself an award for crying or being raped [breaks into laughter] or playing someone with mental illness. But at the end of the day I'm not in it for the acting. If I were in it for the acting then I would be worried about people not giving me the opportunity to express my vast array of emotions on the screen.

I could give two shits. I only wanna be someone or I respect or someone that I consider interesting or fun. I'm here to entertain people and make a statement about female empowerment and strength and that's what I've done for the last 10 years, and people can call it typecast, but I pigeonholed myself and I put myself in that box for saying no to everything else that came on my plate. Saying no to the girlfriend, saying no to the girl that gets captured, no to this, no to that. and eventually I just got left with the strong chick that's always being killed and there's nothing wrong with that."

I don't entirely agree with everything she says in the first paragraph (there's nothing demeaning about Jodie Foster's work in The Accused), but it's no secret that actors and actresses often search for roles that allow them to be brutalized onscreen or overcome dramatic circumstances with or without a handicap. But pretty much everything she says in the second paragraph is spot on, and something I've discussed any number of times. It's not every actresses job to make statements about female empowerment, but it's lovely to see someone who has set out to do that while actually walking the walk ('oh, my character is so strong, independent, not just a damsel in distress, even during the extended scene where I'm bound and gagged over a swiftly approaching buzz saw').

It's nice to see that Rodriquez gets it, and it's even nicer to see another actress who has built a stable career without having to play the stereotypical female roles (token love interest, token hostage, etc). The other example I always toss out is Hillary Swank, who has won two Oscars and basically stuck to star vehicles or leading roles in prestigious ensemble casts. What other actresses have made their way in Hollywood without having to pad their resume with 'the love interest' or 'the strong, independent, not-at-all a damsel in distress who still gets kidnapped in the third act'? The only other obvious examples that come to mind are Ellen Page and the gold standard, Jodie Foster.

Scott Mendelson


Jihad Punk 77 said...

agreed. another actress who's doing well for herself is Ellen Page, who also takes on non-typical roles for females.

the one "actress" that one should NEVER follow is Megan Fox whose career is surely going downhill. she played the Girlfriend in Transformers, stripped down to lingerie and did sexy shoots, played up her sex appeal, and then played a hooker in JONAH HEX. She doesn't have a future.

Daniel Wheeler said...

Does Angelina Jolie count?


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