10 iconic movie characters who swapped gender

Hugh Armitage
Photo credit: Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection / Hulton Archive / Sony

From Digital Spy

It's at times like this we're reminded of that old saying, 'There's many a gender slip 'twixt script and screen.' Which is definitely a thing people say.

In other words, a character that is originally planned as one gender might wind up on screen played by another. Some of the biggest characters in film started out as a man or woman and ended up the other way.

(TBH, nearly all of these roles began as men, as that is of course the default gender for all fictional characters.)

1. Captain Phasma (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Photo credit: Disney

When the cast of The Force Awakens was revealed with a photograph of the cast at a script reading, the filmmakers came under fire for the fact that only two women (Carrie Fisher and Daisy Ridley) were in the picture.

Later, Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie was announced for the role of First Order leader Captain Phasma, who had originally been conceived as a man. It has been widely speculated that the former led to the latter.

2. Ellen Ripley (Alien)

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Sigourney Weaver's legendary action hero was original written with a man in mind. In fact, the whole cast were written as men (although there was a note specifying that "the crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women").

38 years later, the concept of a female action hero with no love interest whatsoever remains as alien to Hollywood as ever.

3. James Bond

Photo credit: Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection / Hulton Archive / Sony

Before the Broccolis launched 007's movie career with Dr No, an attempt to bring James Bond to the big screen was made in the 1950s by the pair who controlled the Casino Royale film rights. They wanted a woman for the part because they thought the character as written by Ian Fleming was "kind of stupid".

Susan Hayward was offered the role of "Jane Bond", but turned the opportunity down. The rest is history.

4. Evelyn Salt (Salt)

Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

Tom Cruise was originally in line to play Edwin A Salt in Phillip Noyce's action thriller, but dropped out after deciding that the character was too similar to Mission: Impossible's Ethan Hunt.

They tried to tweak the script to differentiate Salt from Hunt, but eventually embarked on a major rewrite (including significantly altering the final act) after Angelina Jolie came on board.

5. The Ancient One (Doctor Strange)

Photo credit: Disney

Marvel got a lot of flack for casting a white actor in the traditionally Asian role of Doctor Strange's mentor, the Ancient One. But that wasn't the only change that was made to the character, which had originally been an old man.

6. Paula (The 40-Year-Old Virgin)

Jane Lynch played Steve Carell's scene-stealing manager Paula, who was written as a man until Carell's wife Nancy pointed out that (like 97% of all Hollywood productions) the movie was overwhelmingly male – and suggested the actress.

By the way, the "beautiful old Guatemalan love song" that she says her gardener Javier sang to her translates to, "When you clean my room / I can't find anything / Where are you going in such a hurry? / To the football game." Lynch improvised it from a high-school Spanish lesson she remembered.

7. Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

Photo credit: Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

George Lucas's magnum opus famously went through some huge alterations from the original The Star Wars script. One of those changes was that Luke's character was originally a young woman in love with an older and beardier Han Solo.

8. Dory (Finding Nemo)

Photo credit: Pixar / Disney

Director Andrew Stanton had planned for the fish that helped Marlin to look for Nemo to be male. But on the Finding Nemo audio commentary he revealed that one day his wife was watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He heard Ellen's voice and was struck by inspiration.

9. Murph Cooper (Interstellar)

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The relationship between Matthew McConaughey's Coop and his son Murph was originally written as... well... a father-son relationship. But then it occurred to Christopher Nolan that his eldest child is a girl, and so he reworked the relationship into a father-daughter one with the help of Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy and Ellen Burstyn.

10. Lt Saavik (Wrath of Khan)

Photo credit: Paramount

Kirstie Alley was said to be so excited about her role as the Enterprise's new Vulcan recruit Saavik that she wore her pointed ears home and slept in them. And to think, she could have been a male Spock clone (figurative rather than literal) called "Mr Wicks".

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