Last week’s news was all about the new appointment of Jodie Whittaker to the role of the Doctor. So, for this week’s Monday music I decided to celebrate some of the great women who have stepped into roles which were initially written for men. Some have attracted more controversy than others but they have all proved that first thoughts and preconceptions can be shattered by strong performances and good writing.
1 – Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace (Katee Sackhoff)
There was outcry after Dirk Benedict’s character from the original Battlestar Galactica was rewritten in Ronald D Moore’s reboot of the series. Moore was trying to avoid any Han Solo comparisons that would have been drawn had he cast a man in the role. Katee Sackhoff took on the role and made it her own so brilliantly that the critics (those with brains, anyway) were utterly silenced. Starbuck’s arc through the four seasons of BSG is so masterfully handled and this culminates in her key role in humanity’s salvation. This is the piece of music that accompanies her triumphant gamble. Anytime I get to call on some of the brilliant Bear McCreary’s work to illustrate a point, it’s a happy occasion.
2 – Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valeri (Grace Park)
With all the fuss over Starbuck, lots of people forget that Boomer was also a man in the original run of Battlestar Galactica. Grace Park is given so much more to do in the re-imagined series, playing multiple versions of herself, and does a fantastic job of it. Here’s another piece of McCreary to listen to.
3 – Karsi, the Wildling (Brigitte Hjort Sorenson)
The Wildling chietainess in Game of Thrones was originally written as a man. The part was reworked so that it would have more emotional punch when her children came back for her!! We may not have seen the last of her either! Here’s some of Ramin Djawadi’s great work from the episode, Hardhome.
4 Salt (Angelina Jolie)
The part was originally written for Tom Cruise before things were switched around and Angelina Jolie was given the chance to make the role her own. The results were spectacular and a great departure from the Bond/Bourne/Mission Impossible formula. This is some of James Newton Howard’s great work from the soundtrack.
5 – Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
That’s right, folks. The hero of the Alien franchise was originally going to be man. Director Ridley Scott decided to change things up a little by having Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo, be a female character. Thus was created one of the greatest action film characters in history. Here’s James Horner’s great backing music for her.
So, there’s five great gender switches that worked very well indeed. Here’s hoping Jodie Whittaker and the Doctor Who team will silence some of the people who have already written her off as a big mistake. Certain sections of social media have been rather toxic this week and maybe this will be a reminder of how well these changes can work out.
One thing I have noticed, however, is that all the music in this post was composed by men. Maybe next week’s Monday Music will be the work of a female composer.
Cheers for reading,
PS – If you liked this, please check out the last few week’s worth.