Hilary Swank and Natalie Dormer are both promoting movies that focus on female protagonists, and nuanced ones at that — a rarity in the world of cinema. Swank and Dormer were drawn to their respective roles in The Homesman and Mockingjay for that very reason.
Speaking with students at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, two-time Oscar winner Swank identified The Homesman as “a feminist movie”, as it portrays the “objectification and trivialization of women.” Though the story takes place in the mid-1800s, Swank points out that “us women know exactly what that feels like right now in 2014 — talking about gay, lesbian, transgender issues and how far they’ve come … yet how far we still need to go.”
Speaking of “how far we still need to go,” Swank touched on the gender pay gap that persists in the film industry, noting “My male counterpart will get paid ten times more than me — ten times. Not double, but 10 times for the same job. We only have this much left for the female actress. I mean, there’s two genders on this earth. Both are compelling, interesting, diverse, wonderful in all their own separate ways. And yet there’s an influx of male roles and there’s just not for women.”
Dormer, in an interview with HitFix, elaborated on the lack of diversity when it comes to roles for women, and explained why portraying Cressida in Mockingjay was such a great opportunity: “It was refreshing to play a character who wasn’t defined by a love entanglement or a marital ambition. She is there because she the best at her job.”
Though Dormer plays a supporting role in the film, it is important to note that Mockingjay’s protagonist, Katniss, isn’t defined by romantic relationships: the love triangle between she, Peeta, and Gale is part of her story, but certainly not its sum. The Game of Thrones star went on to say, “There’s a wave coming. The swell has started. I’m not much interested in waving the ‘girl power’ flag, I’m more interested in feminism meaning equality.”
Mockingjay opens this Friday, November 21, and The Homesman is currently playing in theatres.