Women don’t always have it easy when it comes to working in Hollywood. As we’ve written about, female writers are selling fewer spec scripts and there’s only one mainstream film starring women to come out this summer: The Heat. But before you throw your hands up in despair, here’s a bit of news that makes such gender imbalances a bit easier to swallow: Jodie Foster’s role in Elysium was originally meant for a man.
Hitting theatres August 9, Elysium is the latest sci-fi action film from Neill Blomkamp, the director of the Oscar-nominated District 9. The film is set in a future where Earth has become so badly polluted that the wealthy have paid to live on a space station called Elysium. Those without the means to leave our ruined planet are forced to make due in dire conditions, creating class strife. Foster plays Secretary Delacourt, who runs Elysium with a cruel and calculated hand. Her character is ruthless, uses violence, and is extremely powerful—in short, a part that in Hollywood would typically be played by a man. At first, Blomkamp followed this line of thinking and conceived of the Secretary as being male, but then “woke up one morning” and realized there was no reason why the part couldn’t be played by a woman. The director said Foster was one of the first people who came to mind and when asked to play the part she quickly signed on.
Fittingly, this isn’t the first time Foster has taken on a role originally meant for a man. In 2005, Foster flipped the script of the thriller Flightplan and turned the original father-daughter dynamic into a mother-daughter one. Once again, she’s proving a part can be strong enough for a man and played by a woman.