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10 Classically Male Characters Who Could Have a Female Version

14 June 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Caio Coletti

male characters female version

Recently, a few talented actresses have declared that they would love to play James Bond onscreen. That is, after Gillian Anderson was put in the spot by fans, who made a fan-poster of her as Bond, Jane Bond – in these days that the online fan community has exponential power over casting decisions, and social causes like feminism and LGBTQ activism dominate the internet landscape, it’s no surprise that the historically problematic (in its depictions of women) Bond franchise is being put on the spot to modernize itself.

Of course, such campaigns can divide fans as much as others like #GiveElsaAGirlfriend (pertaining to the Disney character from Frozen), and some have made an argument as to Bond staying male, and actually staying white as well. I don’t want to dwell too much into the “faithfulness to the original” argument, mainly because there have been so many changes already made to Bond and the other characters on this list from their source material that it becomes a moot point.

So here are 10 classically male characters that could stand to have a female make-over – and who we’d like to cast as each one of them.


1. James Bond – Cast: Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson

Starting with the one the internet already cast for us, Gillian Anderson would do for a kick-ass 007. Not only she can do cold, severe characters, as shown on the small screen in The X Files, The Fall and Hannibal, her very scrupulous method of acting would continue in the tradition of Daniel Craig’s more complex, flawed and humanized Bond. We don’t exactly see this kind of ability in her male peers considered seriously for the role, especially Tom Hiddleston, who’s the front-runner right now.

Anderson is American-born, but British-raised through most of her childhood and youth. She is precisely the kind of British actor you look for in a Bond candidate, with a long history of interesting characters and a unique mark she could bring to the franchise. And her track record of smashing sexism on and off-screen would probably help to subvert some of the Bond franchise worst clichés.


2. The Joker – Cast: Tilda Swinton

best genre movies 2014

We’ve seen three fine actors taking the mantle of the Joker before. Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger all made their marks, and we’re more-or-less confident that Jared Leto will too.

Our interest in a female Joker doesn’t even stem from the gender itself, but from the fact that Tilda Swinton would be spectacular in this role – the actress’ penchant for weird, challenging roles has been her trademark, and anyone who’s seen her performance in Snowpiercer knows she can play a deranged, theatrical maniac perfectly well.

This role would also be contingent to Swinton’s peculiar gender-nonconforming style. The Joker part has always had this kind of genderlessness to it, and Swinton could tap into that with very little effort. Her visual composition would surely be as iconic as the previous ones, and we bet she would make a formidable foe for any Batman we’ve seen on-screen.


3. Sherlock Holmes – Cast: Helena Bonham-Carter

Helena Bonham-Carter fight club

Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal creation is currently played by three actors in different versions: Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s Sherlock, Jonny Lee Miller in CBS’ Elementary, and Robert Downey Jr in the film franchise.

Created in 1887, Sherlock has gone through “modern-time reboots”, films exploring the detective’s childhood, and not many truly faithful adaptations. Isn’t it time we let go of the notion that Sherlock has to be male? In its most eccentric, curmudgeonly instincts, Sherlock is a character full of possibilities for one of our most distinctive actresses: Helena Bonham-Carter.

Carter’s peculiar style of comedy would fit well in the one-of-a-kind detective, and she would look fabulous as a perfect fish-out-of-water always coming into conflict with her faithful companion, Dr. Watson. It would be refreshing to see a male-female friendship portrayed in movies like a male-male friendship is, and Helena, like Cumberbatch, Miller and Downey, has the chops to make the detective outrageous and endearing at the same time.


4. Doctor Frankenstein – Cast: Lena Headey

Lena Headey

Not unlike Sherlock, Doctor Frankenstein is kind of a hot topic lately, all with James McAvoy taking on the role in last year’s Victor Frankenstein and the young Harry Treadaway playing a twisted version of him in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

Also not unlike Sherlock, Frankenstein has had so many iterations since his creation in 1818 that it only makes sense that we get at least one female version of the characters. We have just the actress for you, too: currently portraying Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, Bermuda-born Brit Lena Headey would be wonderful in the role.

She has that kind of spiteful, sorrowful, mad look in her eye, and watching Lena play a scientist with a grudge and ambitions way beyond her capabilities would be an opportunity not to miss. She’s been killing it in the latest seasons of Game of Thrones, and she should be up for big parts like this by now, like her co-stars already have been.


5. Hannibal Lecter – Cast: Glenn Close

Glenn Close

This one is a little trickier, because even though Dr. Lecter has been portrayed by at least three brilliant actors, he’s a much more recent character than most other entries in our list, having been created in 1981 by novelist Thomas Harris. Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen (and yes, we know we’re skipping Gaspard Uliel – so should you) have created very particular versions of him, even though they all had in common that kind of maleficent glow in their eyes below the peaceful, elegant exterior.

That’s exactly why we think that Glenn Close would be a terrific Dr. Lecter. She’s not only one of the finest actresses working right now; she has that kind of energy around her, giving off a discrete vibe that could hide any kinds of feelings and urges underneath. That’s how she excelled in roles like Albert Nobbs and Dangerous Liaisons – and we’re not even counting that a role like this could potentially give her the Oscar she so richly deserves.



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  • I would totally be on board with all of these choices.

  • Nice!!!

  • Isaiah Anton Rilles

    I like this. I like this a lot.

  • Mark Jeffery

    Inspired list, would love to see the Bond, Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes ones happen.

  • Ted Wolf

    this concept has been going around the internet a lot lately. why do we want revisions on characters that area already established? With the exception of the Terminator and Indiana Jones (which was very much an homage to prior adventure movie characters) these were all characters created on the printed page. Why don’t we find good characters for women themselves. instead of making Helena Bonham Carter the “female Sherlock Holmes” why can’t we follow the adventures of Irene Adler? Instead of forcing Bond to be a woman, why don’t we do a good adaptation of Modesty Blaise, or at least create a new spy that is a woman. They did that with Alias on television and I think it was wonderful. I know I’m long winded on this, but to sum up, this is just a lack of creativity and simple stunt casting rather than anything really revisionist or ground breaking.

  • AJLoca

    Yeah that’s 10 no’s from me.

    And if that makes me a misogynist, I’m fine with that.

  • 1992 – 2012

    I don’t understand why feminists aren’t in an uproar over this stuff. From Ghostbusters to the future Ocean’s 8 and articles like this, people are essentially telling women that they can do anything a man can do….now follow in their footsteps.

    • Veronica Clarke

      Damn straight!

  • Vincenzo Politi

    I think this whole post is a bit misleading. Do I agree with the fact that some women can play some male roles, and that some men can play some female roles? Absolutely: I am all for cross-gender acting and Tilda Swinton was simply amazing in Orlando both as young man and as a woman. Do I agree with creating the ‘female version’ of male characters? No, I do not. Because it is just silly and extremely derivative. Beside, if we have Glenn Close doing a female version of Hannibal Lecter, does it mean that we must also have a male “Carl Starling”? No, I’m sorry, but I love my Clarisse Starling. Instead of revamping old characters, with all their stereotypes and clichés, let’s just create something new! Women should not need to play feminised male roles to play good roles: that’s just degrading and humiliating, in my opinion!

  • There’s only One Gullden

    I like the idea of Vera Farmiga as Willy Wonka.