The song stated it perfectly: “Anything you can do, I can do better…” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Better is a relative term, but in the case of some film roles written for men, there were several actresses who proved better for telling the story. People are surprised to learn of several iconic film roles that were originally written for men, but through casting chance, rewrites, what-ifs and great imagination, the roles have gone down in history as some of the greatest female characters in film history. Here are nine of them.
9. Rosalind Russell – His Girl Friday
From Hildebrand to Hildegaard, the role of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday switched from a man to a woman after director Howard Hawks heard his secretary read opposite a male actor during a script session. Hawks loved it so much that he asked writer, Ben Hecht, if he would agree to the switch. Hecht, the writer of the original stage play, The Front Page, agreed that it had potential, and the relationship became about two exes bumbling through a misadventure, and comedy of errors. The role stamped Rosalind Russell as the equal to every man on screen, and male fans of the film weren’t threatened by it. The film was a wild success. No man who truly loves women wants a woman to play the part of mere supporter. They want a co-star. And this 1940 film offered one of the first great, co-starring roles.