The kind folks over at Entertainment Weekly made a very important PSA last week, in which well-known male character actors asked (begged) to be considered for the next round of action/superhero movies. The group of gentlemen, including Donald Faison, Rob Corddry, and Doug Jones, muse aloud as to why they aren’t considered for giant tent pole movies with giant billboards and giant marketing campaigns. In short, they remind us that they’re available should we ever need them to play an obscure X-Men character. There’s just one small problem with this video: it doesn’t feature any females actresses.
The term ‘character actress’ is very rarely tossed around, even though many of them can be found across film and television. Sadly, though, their roles are usually limited to the token ‘best friend’ or ‘mean girl’ or ‘neighbor’s wife’ or ‘mom.’ We think that should change, in fact, we think a whole lot of actresses currently considered “characters,” should get a shot at playing leads in big summer blockbuster action movies, too. (The Expendabelles, anyone?) Here’s our own PSA on behalf of those women who you recognize from EVERYTHING. It’s time they got some major credit, too.
Ten years ago, in 2004, Judy Greer was in two very different movies: 13 Going on 30 and The Village. She has played the whole spectrum of roles since then, but none of them every seem to be leading roles. She is widely loved and appreciated for her vast body of work, and can be currently seen in Married and heard in Archer, both on FX. She’s going to be in the super-blockbuster, Jurassic World, but currently her character is listed on IMDB as simply as “Park Visitor.” Judy Greer deserves way more than simply being a “Visitor.” She’s even written a book about the fact that everyone recognizes her face, but very few know her name.
Allison Janney has already played a superhero, but only if you count the White House Press Secretary as a superhero. She starred in The West Wing for seven seasons and won four Emmys for her role as C.J. Craig. Currently she can be seen in Mom on CBS and Masters of Sex on Showtime (she’s currently up for Emmys for both roles). But, how about if Ms. Janney anchors a trilogy? She would play a fabulous female Indiana Jones.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s anything Aisha Tyler can’t do. She is an actress, a comedian, a writer, a director, and she has had so many supporting guest roles all across television that it’s about time we make her a full-fledged star and household name. Remember a few weeks ago when she was in Weird Al’s “Tacky?” That alone is worth the $14 price of admission for any Aisha blockbuster. She can discuss any topic, from video games to pregnancy issues, and I wish there were more magazines with her face on the cover.
Mae Whitman & Alia Shawkat
It’s about time someone gave these two a buddy movie, like The Heat. Anyone around in 2001 might remember the short-lived but utterly fabulous TV show, State of Grace, that featured both young girls as leads. It ran for one season on ABC Family, because back then, being really into an ABC Family show wasn’t a thing. The two would later go on to act in everyone’s favorite cult TV show, Arrested Development. Mae is currently on Parenthood, and Alia has had a string of supporting roles in movies like The To-Do List and Ruby Sparks, and their emotional range is phenomenal. You’re lying to yourself if you say that you’ve made it through an entire episode of Parenthood without crying along with the mother/daughter drama Mae has with Lauren Graham. And, Alia was just fourteen when she was making us LOL with Maeby’s crazy Arrested Development antics. These two could easily go on to be the next wave of twenty-something film stars.
Some might say being let go from Saturday Night Live is a career-ender, and that happened to Casey Wilson in 2008. However, just like a phoenix, she rose from the ashes and it doesn’t look like she’s going to burn out anytime soon. There’s a little bias when it comes to Casey, because Happy Endings was hands down one of the best shows to ever grace primetime, and its ultimate cancellation is mourned every day. (Or, at least I mourn it every day. If you can sit through this clip without smiling/crying happy tears to yourself, something is wrong.) Casey acts, she writes, she’s highly skilled at improv (after spending time with UCB in both NYC and LA), plus, she’s very involved in politics and has a charity dedicated to children with special needs. Casey is just like us, because she is also obsessed with Real Housewives.
Sue Galloway was cast as an extra on 30 Rock, and her character was simply ‘girl writer’ for the first three seasons, because Liz Lemon’s The Girlie Show needed an actual girl writer (aside from Liz). Flash-foward seven seasons, and Sue’s character, Sue, was a full-fledged person, with an entire back story and ongoing gags. She remains very busy with UCB theater in New York, and can also be found submitting jokes to SNL‘s Weekend Update. Clearly she’s got comedic chops, and there can always be more funny ladies on TV. Doesn’t Tina Fey have a new show coming out soon? Maybe she should call up Sue. . .
She may have her own show, but Tatiana Maslany is truly a character actress. Remember how in The Parent Trap Lindsay Lohan played two different roles? Well, Tatiana plays five in most episodes of Orphan Black (at one point, she also plays a transgender male). It’s mesmerizing watching her switch in and out of different characters, and sometimes one character has to pretend to be another character, and it’s like character Inception. If we just give her five Emmys right now, we can call it even.
This is only just scratching the surface of the immense talent that can be found with female actresses today. Are there any other females out there who you think deserve recognition—and maybe an action trilogy?