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This summer, women are shattering the glass ceiling … with their fists.
slate includes a number of high-profile releases with powerful female
characters at their centers. These fearless women are bad enough to slug
it out with men, aliens and even Tom Cruise.
In “Atomic Blonde”
(July 28), an MI6 operative conducts a dangerous mission on both sides
of the Berlin Wall. It’s hard-boiled genre stuff in a brutal and stylish
package with actress-producer Charlize Theron in the lead.
“When we make these movies with women we want to give them so much of
an empathetic story,” says Theron. “It has to be a revenge story, or
there have to be children involved. … I can’t tell you how many times I
said in meetings, ‘You don’t need to excuse her for being a woman. We
don’t have to point out she can have babies or she loves her husband or
her brother or whatever.’ ”
Theron’s character, Lorraine
Broughton, encounters all the things male spies usually do in these
stories – the fights and betrayals and sex with femmes fatales.
sex scene, people were like, ‘Wow, oh my God!’ like none of this
exists,” says Theron, laughing. “Trust me, women pick other women up and
have hot sex. The first thing I heard was, ‘No, but does she fall in
love?’ She doesn’t need to fall in love; it’s OK.”
Director David Leitch says, “To have this unapologetic female
character was the goal – to have no distinction as to whether you cast a
man or woman in this role, it would be bad ass no matter what. It is
feminist in that way. I embrace that label wholeheartedly. She gives as
good as she gets. She has to be smarter. She has to be tougher.”
Lorraine’s opponents – all male – are bigger and stronger; she has only
skill, guile and guts on her side. Nevertheless, she persists.
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who also stars in this spring’s action-packed “Fate of the Furious,”
says, “I don’t want to stand on my soapbox and say it’s not happening;
it is. I’m in this movie and I’m 41 years old. That’s a feat. I’ve got
to hold that up and acknowledge it. But at the same time, I wish more
women would have these opportunities.
“We need some more brave
producers and filmmakers out there who want to spearhead projects from
the beginning for women. There’s a handful of women out there who could
kill this market, and I don’t think we’re taking advantage of that. And
audiences love it.”
Leitch knew he was in good hands with Theron
as his lead. “With Charlize, I said to her before we started, ‘I’m not
going to take for granted I’ve got an Academy Award winner. We’re
putting the movie squarely on your shoulders and we’re going to watch
you for an hour and 45 minutes go through this …,’ and she was up for
it. You can’t do that with everybody,” says Leitch.
“She’s as tough as anyone on my stunt team, and my stunt team will tell you that.”
On the flip side, costar Sofia Boutella, an accomplished dancer
and one of the more dynamic physical performers to come along in recent
years, relished dialing down the aggression that made her so memorable
in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Star Trek Beyond.” In “Blonde,” she might be a master spy or she might be an ingénue.
“I loved playing a character that’s slightly more vulnerable, on the sweeter side,” she says. “It was refreshing to me.”
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