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Alfonso Cuaron Defends Having Female Lead in Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron Defends Having Female Lead in Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year and has been receiving major buzz since the release of its teaser trailer in May. But getting this potential Oscar vehicle made even with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was not easy.  

The film follows Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with experienced astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on his last mission before retiring. Disaster strikes and the pair find themselves alone, out in space and tethered to nothing but one another with seemingly no hope for rescue.

Gravity, with an estimated $80 million budget, was originally at Universal and moved to Warner Bros, where it went through multiple male and female leads before Sandra Bullock and George Clooney signed on. After filming began in May 2011, several details about the film have been released ranging from a rumored 17-20 minute long uninterrupted opening shot and how Cuaron had Bullock and Clooney wear no makeup during filming to the fact that Cuaron used new technology to make the film.

At Comic-Con, Cuaron opened up about another problem that came up when developing the film: people had problems that he had a female lead.

When I finished the script, there were voices that were saying, ‘well, we should change it to a male lead.’ Obviously they were not powerful enough voices, because we got away with it. But the sad thing is that there is still that tendency.

We hear lots of anecdotal remarks from female directors about the scripts they pitch with female leads and how they are asked to change the gender, but hearing this come from an A-List director is pretty rare. In the first place these guys don’t make tons of movies about women, but Cuaron is a bit different. He made A Little Princess.  
And also, WTF?  Why is this still the conversation? I imagine they are happy at the studio now that Sandra Bullock is starring in the film, but this conversation is so disheartening. If Cuaron is getting shit for writing a woman, imagine what the rest of the people down the line are getting.

Science fiction, like the superhero genre is all about the guys to Hollywood though we know that is completely not the case. It’s a genre that is ripe with potential for great female roles which Cuaron recognized. On occasion we get kick-ass, complex women like Alien’s Ellen Ripley, Battlestar Galactica’s Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace and The X-Files’ Dana Scully that goes down in the record books as a great character regardless of gender.  But we need more.

On the panel, Bullock spoke about that she felt Cuaron was “brave” for making her character a woman and that she hoped that this would become the norm. 

The elephant in the room is that roles or women haven’t been as vast and many as the men have. But I do feel that there is a definite shift that has happened. In the end it’s about making money, and if studios see that a female can bring in audiences, they’re going to make movies with that person, and hopefully that will become the norm.

Gravity will open the Venice Film Festival in August. It hits theaters on October 4th. Check out the newly released one-take trailer below.

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