Angelina Jolie replaces Tom Cruise in spy thriller

// 14 August 2008

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Angelina Jolie has replaced Tom Cruise as the star of new spy film Edwin A Salt.

According to BBC Online, Tom Cruise had a long-standing connection to Edwin A Salt. After his departure, several other male actors expressed interest in the script but the directors decided it was best suited to Jolie.

Supposedly, the only changes that will be made to the film as a result of Jolie stepping to the role will be the gender of the character and the title of the film. If this really is the case then it’s fantastic news for a film industry not exactly famous for gender equality.

Jolie is clearly no stranger to strong characters in action-led films. From Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft to Wanted’s Fox, it’s tempting to think that Jolie’s characters are throwing punches for feminism and showing that women can be just as tough as men.

But look a little closer and the reality is that Jolie’s characters are usually there because male characters need some kind of love interest. Even when she plays the lead, as with Tomb Raider, she’s still really there to be an object of lust, for the audience if not the characters. Guys love a sexy tough girl. Let her fight, but she has to fight in short shorts and tight shirts.

So if the rumours are true and the only change will be flipping Edwin to Edwina, then congratulations to the film-makers for accidentally making a mainstream feminist action flick.

If Jolie does and says everything that Cruise would have, with no new male characters to save her or bed her, then not only will it probably pass the Bechdel test, it would also be a wonderful slap in the face for Warner Bros president of production Jeff “We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead” Robinov. Go Angelina.

Comments From You

Soirore // Posted 14 August 2008 at 4:44 pm

Well having Jollie in the lead does not ensure that the film will pass the Bechdel test as it requires another female character.

Also, this is not the first time this has happened. Jodie Foster’s character Kyle Pratt in Flightplan was originally written as male and this time they didn’t even change the name. It worked much better as a female character too.

Not that this all isn’t nice but don’t pretend that it indicates a move away from sexism on the part of Hollywood. Jolie has rarely been in a film that doesn’t accentuate her sexiness whatever kind of character she plays. That’s her persona; sexy, tough and a bit naughty. We’ll see how the film is marketed, how she’s costumed and who else is cast and then we’ll be able to draw conclusions.

Sabre // Posted 14 August 2008 at 5:15 pm

She wasn’t particularly sexed up in A Mighty Heart was she (haven’t seen it yet so not sure)? Or Girl, Interrupted. Or Hackers.

To be honest I think she is so sexy that it almost can’t avoided! She’d even look awesome wearing a sack.

Redheadinred // Posted 14 August 2008 at 5:16 pm

Ellen Ripley in the ‘Alien’ series was originally written as a male character.

I’m glad to hear about Jolie replacing Tom Cruise. I can’t stand TC anyhow, but it’s cool that they’ve decided to do this.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how little filmmakers do something which makes their film unique and intriguing, which is to have an unstereotypical female lead. Seems they’d rather play it safe and ignore the publicity and approval that films like ‘Terminator’ and ‘Alien’ have enjoyed.

Hazel // Posted 14 August 2008 at 5:57 pm

What might be interesting is to think of a female role that would work if taken by a man.

And I am reminded of Linda Hunt playing a man in The Year of Living Dangerously and winning an Oscar for it.

Renee // Posted 14 August 2008 at 6:30 pm

If they actually follow throw and film the movie as if Tom Cruise were the lead it has the potential of being an excellent movie for women. We will see though, I have a lack of trust in the entertainment industry.

frau sally benz // Posted 14 August 2008 at 8:06 pm

IF (big if here) they keep the movie as it is and just use Jolie, then I’d be pretty darn excited. While it doesn’t mean that Hollywood is changing its sexist ways, small victories are still victories. Having a woman play the same exact role that was intended for a man breaks down gender stereotypes. Simple as that.

But, somehow I am not yet convinced that this will happen here. As Sabre said, it’s sometimes unavoidable because Jolie is such a sex symbol. We’ll see what happens!

Lucie // Posted 14 August 2008 at 11:26 pm

To be fair, it’s hard not to be skeptical about how this film will turn out. It’s just a case of how much innuendo, lingering camera angles and dialogue changes there will be.

BareNakedLady // Posted 15 August 2008 at 9:16 am

Soirore: Jolie has rarely been in a film that doesn’t accentuate her sexiness whatever kind of character she plays.

-Agreed. But then she does choose to be in the films, so if it’s what she wants to do, I for one am not going to complain ;)

And I thought that one of the (very) few good things about Wanted was that the leading guy/girl didn’t get together. It made her character much more independent.

Sarah // Posted 15 August 2008 at 9:55 am

It’s an interesting effect when an originally male role is played by a woman, Ripley in Alien of course, and the new Battlestar Galactica comes to mind. I suspect it’s because often writers fall into the trap of writing a ‘female role’ for women, with all the restrictions and cliches that involves, whereas if the role was originally intended to be male, there’s much more scope for just writing an interesting human role. It’s a shame it has to be that way, of course.

Stephanie // Posted 15 August 2008 at 12:38 pm

I think it’s only me that’s dissappointed that Angelina is replacing TC. I dislike them both in equal measure and would have much preferred if TC was replaced by someone who got lead roles because…(wait for it)…*drumroll* ..they could actually act.

And not because of how they look. There’s a million talented actresses out there who never make it because they’re not what Hollywood thinks is pretty enough for the screen…

Jacob // Posted 16 August 2008 at 6:46 pm

What’d be really good is if love interests in the film stay the same genders. I’m guessing it had a hetro script, will angie get a girlfriend… I’d bet that’d be too far for them!

Finding Angelina Jolie hot is just a matter of opinion, but many male actors do pretty good on their sex appeal too and it doesn’t seem to dent patriarchy much. I find her confidence attractive to be honest, and I’d rather hope that’d have a good impact on female viewers.

I think male fetishising of powerful women they find attractive is just a way of pretending that they don’t exist beyond male terms, are not self-defined. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with BEING an attractive, powerful woman.

I stongly second the above suggestion, I would love to see a man in a traditionally female role in a major blockbuster. I think that’d be far more ground breaking, and do a lot more to change male self-perception which essentially is the real cause of sexism towards women.

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