#Movies & TV

10 Classic Male Characters Who Are Even Better as Women

by Jennifer Lafferty

10 Classic Male Characters Who Are Even Better as Women

Switching character genders in film and TV is nothing new; it’s been going on for decades, but lately there’s a concentrated effort to give actresses the chance to play these traditionally male roles.


Hollywood has been abuzz lately with rumored remakes featuring women in traditionally male roles. There have been discussions around the next James Bond being a super badass female spy once Daniel Craig departs the series. In August it was announced that we’d see yet another big-screen take on the classic caper film Ocean’s Eleven with Ocean’s Eight. And even macho action films like The Expendables are getting an injection of feminine power with a project nicknamed The Expendabelles reportedly on the docket. So with all this gender-swapping going on, we thought we’d highlight a few notable change ups from films and TV shows past, present and future.


Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson

Photos (L to R): Cemin Fryer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images


Hildy Johnson: While considering a remake of The Front Page, filmmaker Howard Hawks got his secretary to read a scene between male characters Walter Burns and Hildy Johnson, then announced, “It’s even better this way.” Rosalind Russell portrayed Hildy (originally played by Pat O’Brien) in the popular 1940 film His Girl Friday.


Ronda Rousey as Dalton

Photos (L to R):
Arun Nevader/WireImage/Getty ImagesAxelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images


Dalton: A few years ago no one would’ve predicted the 1989 testosterone-fueled action thriller Road House would one day be remade with a woman in the lead, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen. It will be interesting to see mixed-martial-artist-turned-actress Ronda Rousey in the bouncer role that Patrick Swayze made famous.


Melissa McCarthy in Ghostbusters

Photos (L to R):
Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images


Ghostbusters Team: Not everyone was happy to find out that the long-awaited Ghostbusters reboot would feature an all-female team, but the film, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, succeeded worldwide and gained the support of original Ghostbusters Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, who both appear in the new film.


Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

Photos (L to R): Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images; Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images


Doctor Watson: Sherlock Holmes’ fans were surprised to see his traditionally stodgy, British male companion Dr. Watson portrayed by the sexy Asian-American actress Lucy Liu in the TV series Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller as a re-imagined, modern-day Holmes. But’s Liu’s interpretation of the character is popular, and has won multiple awards.


Natalie Dormer as James Moriarty

Photos (L to R):
David M. Benett/Getty Images;Le Segretain/Getty Images


James Moriarty: Another Sherlock Holmes franchise character to get a gender switch in the past few years is James Moriarty, the detective’s arch nemesis. Actress Natalie Dormer played Jamie Moriarty as well as Holmes’ star-crossed love, Irene Adler, on Elementary from 2013 to 2015.


Jaime Murray as H.G. Wells

Photos (L to R):
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images; Joe Scarnici/FilmMagic/Getty Images


H.G. Wells: Occasionally, the gender of a real life person will be altered in a fictionalized version of the person, such as the sci-fi author H.G. Wells, known for writing such stories as The Time Machine. Actress Jaime Murray played a female version of Wells in numerous episodes of the science fiction, mystery TV series Warehouse 13.


Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeryn Hogarth

Photos (L to R):
Marvel; Robin Marchant/Getty Images


Jeryn Hogarth: In TV’s Jessica Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss plays the female counterpart of Jeryn Hogarth, a lawyer who previously worked with some street-level superheroes. Renamed Jeri, the character is also groundbreaking because she is a lesbian in a relationship, which makes the Jessica Jones series the first Marvel show to portray an openly gay couple.


Related: 15 Gender-Swapped Superheroes, Cast As Your Favorite Celebs


Andrea Riseborough in Top Dollar

Photos (L to R):
Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images


Top Dollar: While many of these projects show women portraying heroic characters, some have the opportunity to play truly badass villains. In the upcoming remake of the crime fantasy feature The Crow, actress Andrea Riseborough, best known for Birdman, is taking over the role of gang boss Top Dollar, previously played by Michael Wincott.


Judi Dench as M

Photos (L to R): John Lamparski/WireImage; Jeff Spicer/Getty Images


M: Dame Judi Dench was very popular as James Bond’s tough, no nonsense superior M in seven Bond films. Although M is a caring mother, she doesn’t let her compassion interfere with her job, and makes it clear she’s prepared to send agents out to die when necessary, in order to keep Britain safe. Dench’s run as M came to an end after Skyfall, and she was succeeded by Ralph Fiennes. There have been six actors who have appeared as M in Bond films over the years; Dench is the only woman to do so.


Related: 14 Badass Actresses We Want to Be the Next James Bond


Sandra Bullock in Ocean's Eight

Photos (L to R):
John Shearer/Getty Images; Venturelli/WireImage/Getty Images


Ocean’s Eight: We’ve seen a hit Ocean’s Eleven reboot, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Now get ready for a brand new take on the heist caper franchise, this time with an all female cast led by Sandra Bullock. Ocean’s Eight is set to release in 2017, reportedly joining Bullock with Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna and Mindy Kaling.


Related: 12 Classic Movies That Desperately Need an All-Female Remake