6 Awesome Roles Intended For Men, But Cast As Women

Angelina Jolie looks so femme fatale-tastic staring out from the poster for “Salt,” with her black wig and heavily lined eyes, that it’s hard to imagine that the title role in the movie was actually written for a guy. But, yes, it’s true—Evelyn Salt was originally scripted as Edwin Salt. And lame name aside, the role was intended for Tom Cruise. It was only when Cruise backed out that the movie’s makers rethought the part and decided to cast Angelina instead. A seriously good move. [NPR]

Interestingly, this is not the first time a woman has played a role originally envisioned as a man. After the jump, some of our favorite examples.

  • Hands down, the most famous gender switcheroo in a movie? Sigourney Weaver as Officer Ellen Ripley in “Alien.” The film’s scribes wrote all the characters as men, but specified that “the crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women.” When Sigourney auditioned, they decided to go for it. “The idea of making the hero a heroine was a masterstroke,” director Ridley Scott said on the DVD. He credits Sigourney with helping the movie stand out from the other sci-fi fare of the time. [Wikipedia, NPR]
  • Did you know that the show “Blossom” was originally about a teenage boy? Yep, creator Don Reo started writing the seminal ’90s series as such but then got word that Mayim Bialik, who had blown up as the young Bette Midler in “Beaches,” was available. He decided to change things up and write the show for her. Without the switch, we may never have had the tie skirt.
  • In “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,”Jane Lynch played Paula, Steve Carell’s boss at SmartTech. But the role was originally written as “Paul.” Turns out it was Steve’s wife’s idea to cast Jane instead. Do we have her to thank for Sue Sylvester, in some tangential way? [NPR]
  • In 2005’s “Flightplan,” Sean Penn initially was courted to play Kyle Pratt, a father desperately searching for his missing daughter on an international flight. Only, in the end, Jodie Foster got the role. Different gender but the name stayed the same. [Parade]
  • Russell Brand is currently flexing his comedy muscles in “Arthur,” a remake of the early ’80s Dudley Moore flick. In the original film, Arthur’s valet is played by John Gielgud. But this time around, Helen Mirren will be infusing the role with a dose of estrogen. Go Helen, go Helen, go! [Parade]