A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . a movie was released and buzz focused on the plot, cinematography, and caliber of acting. Not on how well an actress has aged. From The New York Times to CNN, Carrie Fisher’s physical appearance in the latest Star Wars installment has gotten more than its share of media attention. Star Wars: The Force Awakens features Fisher as a mature General Leia commanding military forces, no longer a princess-slave in a bikini. In a classic response to the body-shaming, Fisher tweeted, “Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well. It hurts all 3 of my feelings.” Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill were not subjected to the same media scrutiny, or ageism.
The film added $22.9 million on New Year’s Eve to a total $652 million haul, according to Variety. Apparently, looks aren’t everything.
Daisy Ridley also portrays a strong female in the film as Rey, a young woman who fights the dark force with Skywalker-like finesse. The London-based actress has already signed off to star in Episode VIII, which begins filming this month, and Episode IX, but she’s already picking up other films along the way. In the fantasy film Scrawl, she plays Hannah, a mysterious girl who intermingles with a group of comic book lovers. In 2016, she’ll also lend her voice to a dubbed release of 1991’s Only Yesterday.
“We’re lucky in the UK that we have fantastic actresses who work often and hone their craft, moving between film, television, and theatre,” said BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry in a recent interview with The Guardian. “The more we see Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith make films, the more it inspires the next generation of talent, also reminding the directors, writers and producers that this talent exists. I’m seeing much stronger self-belief – women saying, “Yes, we can do that.”
Although slow to change, Hollywood also has some strong female leads in these films:
- JOY – Jennifer Lawrence stars as the woman who rises to become the founder and owner of a powerful business dynasty.
- OUR BRAND IS CRISIS – Sandra Bullock portrays a political strategist in Bolivia; based on the 2005 documentary by Rachel Boynton.
- TRIPLE 9 – Kate Winslet plays a mob leader in a film about corrupt cops and criminals who plan a heist.
- TRUMBO – Helen Mirren brings her usual aplomb to the role of Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in this saga about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, played by Bryan Cranston.
- GHOSTBUSTERS – A gender remix of the 80s comedy, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones take on the roles originally played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
- THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN – Still in production, Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson star in this haunting film based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel. Anticipated December 2016 release.
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