Emily Blunt

There’s endless (warranted) talk about sexism in Hollywood, and various women in the industry as of late, have been speaking their minds. We’ve heard from Kristen Stewart, Patricia Arquette, Jessica Chastain, Carey Mulligan, just to name a few . In fact, it’s become such an issue that the American Civil Liberties Union has announced that they will be putting pressure on state and federal agencies to investigate Hollywood’s sexist practices.

That’s why we were SO happy when Emily Blunt was cast as the leading lady — a badass FBI agent on a special operation, a type of part usually reserved for men — in a film called Sicario. But according to Vanity Fair, this was almost not the case. In fact, on Tuesday, Emily told reporters at Cannes Film Festival that screenwriter Taylor Sheridan was actually asked to change the leading role to a man, instead of a woman.

“He wrote the screenplay a few years ago and people were afraid because the lead was a female character,” French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve explained to VF. “I know that the screenwriter was asked several times to rewrite the part. The pressure came before Lionsgate came on board but those guys had the guts to” — and then he stopped and said, “that is crazy that I am even saying that right now: ‘Had the guts.'” Had the guts to what? To make this badass character a woman.

To Emily, it doesn’t matter that the character very well could have been male — she was dedicated to playing her the way SHE sees her. “I wasn’t really thinking about adjusting to making it more masculine,” she told VF. “I think [the character] is definitely trying to survive in a male-driven industry. The [female] F.B.I. agents that I spoke to sound like me. They sound like normal girls, and they go home and watch Gosford Park and Downton Abbey. They’re great girls. You definitely want to have a beer with them.”

We’re SO happy the screenwriter didn’t give in and change the character, and we’re so happy that Emily got the part — but there’s still a lot of work to be done, she said. After all, it’s essentially an all-male cast, other than her. “It’s something that I’ve become quite used to in films,” she explained. “There aren’t a ton of chicks around . . . “

One thing she can’t stand, according to VF, is having her characters constantly described with one simple adjective. “I get [told] a lot, ‘You play a lot of tough female roles,’ but I don’t really see them as tough,” Emily told VF. “I think there are plenty of strong women out there and I don’t think they can be compartmentalized as being one thing. ‘You’re tough.’ What, because I have a gun?”

Her role in Sicario is much more complex than just being “tough,” she says. “I found [my Sicario] character strangely quite damaged and vulnerable and she is struggling with this role of being a female cop,” she explained to VF. “Certainly, the morally questionable things that she is having to experience with these guys. It’s not safe. And you see this girl going through pretty much the worst three days of her life. And she is trying to maintain face through most of it.”

We can’t wait to see this movie and absolutely love hearing both that a woman is DOMINATING this part, AND that Emily is preaching the gospel that women with guns are much more than just “tough.” People are complicated, men and women, and it’s about time films depict women as dynamically as they’ve long been depicting men.

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