The recent Actors on Actors interview between Jennifer Lawrence and Viola Davis, published by Variety, caused a stir on Twitter due to one particular moment. While discussing Hollywood’s gender disparities, Lawrence made an error that led to outcry from the internet. In referencing her role in Hunger Games, Lawrence claimed that she was the first woman to be cast in a lead action movie due to previous beliefs that such a role wouldn’t work. However, many online users were quick to point out that this was not accurate information.
It’s possible for both boys and girls to relate to a male protagonist. However, the same cannot be said for boys and female protagonists. It’s heartening to see films that challenge this notion and debunk the myth that certain groups don’t belong in movies.
It is a misconception that the Hunger Games was the first action movie featuring a female lead. Many angry tweets have cited Sigourney Weaver’s role in Alien as an example of a strong female lead. Other notable actresses like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill were also mentioned. One tweet pointed out the absurdity of Jennifer Lawrence’s claim that there were no previous female leads in action movies before her role in the Hunger Games by mentioning iconic actresses such as Pam Grier, Sigourney Weaver, Uma Thurman, and Mila Jovovich.
It’s not surprising that male actors usually take the lead in action movies and that some people in Hollywood doubt that female-led films can attract male viewers. Although, this is hardly a new revelation, even if the Hunger Games franchise was one of the first to challenge this norm. Some writers have come to Jennifer Lawrence’s defense by pointing out that she was likely sharing what she and her team were told by studio executives, rather than expressing her own beliefs. While some may find it amusing to point out a few female-led action movies that succeeded decades ago, it’s not necessarily a strong counter-argument. Maybe we should cut Jennifer Lawrence some slack on this issue.