Pop Culture

10 Hollywood Roles That Were Written For Men But Played By Women

When the best man for the job is a woman. 

Sometimes the best man for the job is, in fact, a woman. From actors ousting each other, to directors having a change of heart in script revisions, it’s not uncommon for roles to undergo gender reassignment.

Don’t worry, North Carolina—when the characters visit your state, they’ll still use the bathroom that correlates with the gender they were assigned at conceptual birth. 

1. Charlize Theron in The Gray Man

Officially unofficially, Charlize Theron is set to replace Brad Pitt in the titular role of The Gray Man. The rumor mill has been chirping that ever since Mad Max: Fury Road upped her street cred as an action star. This didn't happen when Brad Pitt starred in Fury, which ended with a nomination for the Teen Choice Awards. 

2. Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo

Holy spinoff, Batman. Merlin’s sidekick was originally written as a male character until writer-director Andrew Stanton overheard his wife tuning into The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He was inspired by Ellen's ability to change the subject several times in one sentence.

3. Judi Dench in James Bond

Dame Judi Dench locked down the previously male role of M from Golden Eye through Skyfall for seven glorious cinematic romps in the James Bond franchise. Her husband alledgedly encouraged her to take the role so he could brag to his friends that he was “living with a bond woman.” 

4. Julia Roberts in Secret In Their Eyes

When remaking the Oscar-winning film (the original film,  El Secreto De Sus Ojos won the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) Secret in their Eyes, Julia Roberts took over the lead role, which was originally written for a man. It was Julia’s idea to make her character a mother, as well. 

5. Sandra Bullock's in Our Brand Is Crisis

Oscar winner/Miss Congeniality star Sandra Bullock was feeling frustrated a few years back that the only roles written for leading ladies were in romantic comedies. She asked to read roles that Jim Carey had passed on to see if a gender flip might be in the cards for meatier comedic roles.  In 2013, she and Melissa McCarthy brought back the buddy-comedy with The Heat, and last year, she convinced her buddy, little George Clooney, to re-gender the starring role in the political drama he was producing, Our Brand is Crisis

5. Jessica Chastain in Interstellar

Christopher Nolan originally wrote the role of Merph, (spoiler alert: Matthew Mcconaughey’s daughter) as a son, but decided to change it in subsequent revisions because of the attachment he, himself felt for his eldest daughter.

6. Sigourney Weaver in Alien

Bad-ass women of the universe, unite! At the top of every “originally supposed to be played by a man” list is Sigourney Weaver. Entertainment Weekly named her one of the Top 20 All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture. Number five, to be exact, and it’s easy to see why. 

7. Mayim Bialik in Blossom

Dat front handspring, doe… In my opinion, having Blossom with anyone but Mayim Bialik at the helm would have been tragic. Originally drafted for a dude, the role was re-written with Bialik in mind when show creator Don Reo found out she was available post-Beaches. 

8. Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica

This renegade role was originally written for a man, but changed at the last minute in an attempt to avoid their show being just another Star Wars wannabe. The political series included a number of strong women, which helped secure its place as one of the fracking awesomest shows in herstory. 

9. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen in Game of Thrones

Yeah, yeah, we can’t remember any of the characters’ names, either (Arya Stark) but Karsi was originally meant to be a dude. Later, the writers decided to make her a mother. It’s difficult to cast a guy as a mother, so before you know it, Karsi became a “wildling woman.” 

10. Viola Davis in Ender's Game

First of all, Orson Scott Card's 1985 sci-fi classic novel changed my life when I was a kid, and I really think they should have made it a trilogy or something so they didn’t have to rush through the plot so quickly. Also in the book, Major Anderson was a guy. 

Read more about: Scout DurwoodPop CultureMovies & TV

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