#Movies & TV
10 Classic Male Characters Who Are Even Better as Women
by Jennifer Lafferty
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.