Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney just gave adoring fans another reason to love him.
The Oscar-winning actor and director is calling on Hollywood to cast more women in parts originally conceived for men in order to increase the diversity of female roles in the film industry, according to Entertainment Weekly. “There’s a lot more [roles] out there if people just started thinking,” he said.
Clooney made the suggestion at the premiere of Sandra Bullock’s upcoming drama “Our Brand In Crisis,” which he is producing, at the annual Toronto Film Festival. Producers reportedly first considered Clooney himself for the lead role before changing the gender of the character to female.
“About two-and-a-half years ago I put out feelers saying, ‘I’m not reading anything I’m excited about,’” Bullock told Entertainment Weekly. “‘Are there any male roles out there that [the filmmakers] don’t mind switching to female?’ ”
Ironically, Alfonso Cuarón — the director of one of Bullock and Clooney’s most critically and commercially successful films, “Gravity” — has alleged that he had to fight to keep the main character female.
“When I finished the script, there were voices that were saying, ‘well, we should change it to a male lead,’” Cuarón said at a 2013 Comic Con press conference, according to The Verge. “Obviously they were not powerful enough voices, because we got away with it. But the sad thing is that there is still that tendency.”
Hollywood has stepped up efforts in recent years to cast women in roles traditionally held by men or, in some cases, that were originally played by males.
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are headlining a widely publicized reboot of the previously all-male “Ghostbusters,” and MMA star Ronda Rousey has signed on the fill the shoes of the late Patrick Swayze in a remake of his B-movie classic “Road House.”
Similarly, Charlize Theron is widely perceived to have stolen the spotlight in one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” from her ostensibly male lead co-star Tom Hardy.
Still, Hollywood has a very long way to go. A 2014 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that only 15% of that year’s top 100 films had women in lead roles, which was barely an improvement on three years prior. And Hollywood’s highest paid women still lag considerably behind their male counterparts in terms of earning power.
All of that leads many in the industry and in the audience to ask: Why can’t they all be more like Clooney!?