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Women in Hollywood, from Tough Rodriguez, Studio Chief Pascal, to 'Expendabelles' (VIDEO)

by Anne Thompson
May 24, 2013 4:29 PM
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Gina Corano and Michelle Rodriguez in 'Fast and Furious 6'
Gina Corano and Michelle Rodriguez in 'Fast and Furious 6'

Sylvester Stallone has put out a call on Twitter, presumably with his latest iteration of "The Expendables" in mind: "A young Sigorney Weaver anywhere out there?" The misspelling of her name aside, Weaver became one of Hollywood's few female action stars because Ridley Scott cast her as androgynous astronaut Ripley in "Alien," and another director who likes strong women, James Cameron, encouraged her to kick ass in the sequel "Aliens," at which point he passed the baton to David Fincher, who continued the tradition in "Alien 3." 

Stallone has plenty of tough action femmes to choose from now, from Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez, who memorably fight each other in "Fast & Furious 6" and Jennifer Garner ("Alias") to Cate Beckinsale ("Underworld"), Zoe Saldana ("Star Trek Into Darkness") and Gwyneth Paltrow ("Iron Man 3"). Rodriguez herself recently complained about the lack of female superheroes. 

Check out the interview below with Sony chief Amy Pascal, who answers some probing questions from Forbes reporter Dorothy Pomerantz about why such rank inequality in the movie business persists, from women directors to pay for female stars. Pascal cites Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lawrence as stars who get paid the same as their male counterparts, but reminds that the "averages don't work." That's because there are so many fewer lead roles for women, because the industry is still chasing the young male demo that shows up on opening weekends: 44%. The studios hanging on to that habit is what's wrong with our industry, and Pascal knows it.

But my question remains: why does Stallone need a younger Weaver? Why not use the real thing? She's 62, and in fabulous shape. The median age of "The Expendables" was 57. Stallone himself as well as some of his tough guys are older than she is.

Stallone tweet

Consider the age of the main players in "Expendables" 1 and 2: Chuck Norris: 72; Sylvester Stallone: 66; Arnold Schwarzenegger: 65. Mickey Rourke: 59; Bruce Willis: 57; Dolph Lundgren: 54 and Jean-Claude Van Damme: 51. At 44, Jason Statham and Jet Li are the two babies of the group. The playing field for men and women in Hollywood has never been equal, and certainly not in the action genre.

When thinking about casting for the "ExpendaBelles" -- Millenium's spin-off of "The Expendables" -- which is being written by "Legally Blonde"'s Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, it's tougher to round up a group of kick-ass women who can wield a gun, fight and star in an action film and/or TV series. But it's not impossible. Given the inequalities that have only recently started to change for women in action films, we've lowered our age range --but only to 35.

Zoe Saldana in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'
Zoe Saldana in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Unfortunately, it looks like the project wants to "show the feminine side of the mercenary business," but will be going much younger with its female version. So far they've got 30-year old Carano ("Haywire") and 32-year old Katee Sackhoff ("Battlestar Galactica").

It just goes to show how far Hollywood is from even considering a universe where they would produce a film about a bunch of aging female action-stars with a median age of 57. Most men, when presented with the concept of kick-ass women in action, can't help but think in terms of babes like 34-year-old Rodriguez. But the whole "Expendables" idea is about casting older--yes, senior--established action stars in an ensemble. It's about reminding us they can STILL kick butt.

We can toss around names, but the likelihood is slim that the best of these actresses --our dream team of six includes Weaver, Helen Mirren, Linda Hamilton, Michelle Yeoh, Carrie-Anne Moss and Angelina Jolie--would sign up for such a B-flick. 

See our action line-up below.

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More: Women in Film, Amy Pascal, Sony, Action


  • Adam JB | May 3, 2014 2:40 AMReply

    For men and women in movies, we need to equalize the playing field. For the Expendabelles, I recommend Angelina Jolie, Michelle Yeoh, Milla Jovovich, Uma Thurman, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Rodregez, Kristana Loken and Kate Beckinsale for the heroines, with Matt Damon and Pierce Brosnan tagging along, Scarlet Johanson, Jane and Bridget Fonda and Jamie Lee Curtis as the villans, Leonardo Dicaprio as a father desperate to save his family, Carrie Ann Moss and Liam Neeson as the leaders of a group of rebels, and last but not least, Harrison Ford and Chuck Norris as two bounty hunters who are old friends of Beckinsale's character and lend a hand. However the Expendabelles turns out, I would truly love to see it.

  • agie | September 20, 2013 1:35 PMReply

    Rhona mitra she played the main role in Doomsday and Underworld 3, Mila jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Grace Moretz, Michelle Rodriguez

  • Anne Thompson | May 26, 2013 12:10 PMReply

    We were looking for women over 35---and totally overlooked Pam Grier. She should totally be on there.

  • Geek Soul Brother | May 26, 2013 12:49 AMReply

    I don't understand how you could have so many action women on this list and leave out Pam Grier, who was blasting dudes away before any of these actresses were holding guns in front of the camera. I do like your point that the cast must be classic fan favorites with a few 'youngsters' to pull the general audience.

  • Juan Carlos | May 25, 2013 4:02 PMReply

    " Our dream team of six includes Weaver, Helen Mirren, Linda Hamilton, Michelle Yeoh, Carrie-Anne Moss and Angelina Jolie--would sign up for such a B-flick. "

    You forgot about Anne Hathaway. She kicked serious behind in TDKR, and she is very flexible. She is the real deal.

  • Marlelololelene Lululeconte | May 24, 2013 6:54 PMReply

    Let's buddied together to create a great film with Screenwriter, Elizabeth, Marlene Leconte.

  • Lori | May 24, 2013 5:05 PMReply

    First, I don't like the list who should be cast for Expendabelles. I wouldn't watch it if Weaver, Berry, Paltrow, Sarandon, Garner, Moore, Jolie, Hannah or Davis in it. They are not the tough girl actors. They didn't cut their chops in action movies. Missing are Michelle Yeoh (49), Pam Grier, Maggie Q, Scarlett Johansson, Salma Hayek, Lynda Carter, Brigitte Nielsen, and Saoirse Ronan.

  • Phil | May 24, 2013 11:22 PM

    In your list, only Michelle Yeoh makes sense. Grier, Carter, Nielsen and Ronan, while I'm sure are (were) good, are not really household names. I didn't grow up watching Stallone or Norries action movies, because I live in a 3rd world country and was born in the late 80's, so my exposure to Western movies was very limited until the year 2000...but even I recognize their names. Maggie Q, while I find pretty, is way too thin! She's about as convincing as Jolie in an action role (yes, I've seen Nikita). Johansson, while loved by many as the Black Widow, wobbles too much like a penguin when fighting. I'm not sure why Salma Hayek is even in the list. She's hot, but when was she ever an "action" actress?

    Weaver should be in the list, and so should Garner and Davis. In the list you don't agree with, Weaver, Garner and Davis are the only three I can think of who actually went and put enough muscle mass to be convincing as butt-kicking characters. No to Berry, Paltrow, Moore or Jolie...all of them look too frail, especially Paltrow.

    But as the article states, I doubt a lot of these actresses will line up to sign up for such a B-flick, especially considering the film is being penned by the "Legally Blonde" writers, which was not that good.

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