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In recent years, there have been calls in Hollywood for bigger roles for women beyond just being the wife or mother of a male protagonist or famous historical figure. More recently the likes of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel have established a new era of strong female superheroes, smashing comic book baddies in their solo movies. But now The Crown star Claire Foy, best known for playing one of the most famous and powerful women alive in Queen Elizabeth II, has criticised making female characters more masculine and defended the strength of portraying wives and mothers.
Speaking with Harper’s Bazaar, Foy pointed out how for most of history women have not been able to work, but still had a voice.
The 37-year-old said: “It’s to underestimate the fact that women have, for centuries, been wives and mothers, and still are.
“That’s denying our entire history of what it means to be a woman. I’m interested in what she’s doing, what she thinks, what she believes.
“I don’t ever want to say I’m never playing a part that is supporting, or someone’s wife, because they exist, and if you can give them a voice, you should.”
Foy says she would rather that “instead of just making all these female characters that are basically just men but look like women.
“The superhero women who can fly, punch men in the face, that sort of stuff.”
Aside from playing The Queen, the actress has portrayed King Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn and even Lady Macbeth in the West End.
Aside from such big historical figures, the 37-year-old has taken some smaller roles like the wife of Neil Armstrong in First Man.
In contrast, some other Hollywood stars have said they do not want to simply play wives.
In 2018, Pirates of the Caribbean’s Keira Knightley said during a British Film Institute discussion that she actively rejects certain roles.
The 36-year-old said: “I have always wanted to be the lead and a lot of times it could have been more money to play the second fiddle and play the wife and the girlfriend, but I never wanted to do that.
“I don’t identify with just the supportive wife or just the supportive mother. I want to see the whole picture.”
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Carey Mulligan also disagrees with Foy. According to The Irish News, she said in 2018: “For most of the actresses I know, it’s been about going where the better writing is.
“Films tend to provide a lot for men, in terms of great leading roles, and not so much for women.
“So you can do [hit HBO drama series] Big Little Lies and have four to six extraordinary roles written for women, where there’d be maybe one or half of one in a couple of films.
“I just want to play the most interesting, complicated, real person. And interesting, complicated, real people in film are really rare.”
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