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Rebecca Ferguson Nearly Stole 'Rogue Nation' From Tom Cruise, But What Kind Of Career Will She Have?

Image from ‘Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,’ courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is expected to have a relatively decent second weekend spurred by superb reviews and strong word of mouth. And chief among the buzzy elements is the breakout star turn from Rebecca Ferguson. She has been the subject of much discussion over the last couple weeks, both in terms of a relatively well written supporting role in an otherwise male-dominated espionage movie (she’s not the love interest, and the fact that she is a professional butt-kicker isn’t treated as anything out of the ordinary) and in terms of the personal charisma and screen presence she brings to the role. So it’s no surprise that she’s become something of a hot item, as Rogue Nation was akin to a coming out party. And the hot role that she is currently up for is… well, Channing Tatum’s girlfriend.

Yup, she is on the so-called “list” to play Belladonna Boudreaux in 20th Century Fox’s Gambit movie. As I read the various articles on Ms. Ferguson that talked about her with awe and wondered if a star had been born, I found myself wondering just what kind of career she is going to have. We all saw the big study released by the University of Southern California concerning race, gender, and sexual orientation in popular films. To the surprise of no one, the vast majority of film roles are filled by white heterosexual men playing white heterosexual men in stories made by and concerning white heterosexual men. That in itself is not the issue at hand, but rather a jolting statistic that 30.2% of all roles in 700 recent popular films were female. It’s not just a matter of male-dominated stories but rather a case of popular films featuring hardly any women at all.

Even Rogue Nation, as good as it was, is an embarrassing failure in this department. Ms. Ferguson is the only onscreen female character of note over the course of the Paramount/Viacom Inc. film’s 131 running time. Aside from her we get a glorified cameo from Jingchu Zhang as a fellow agent and two attractive young women (a record store clerk played by Hermione Corfield and an opera lighting technician played by Eva-Marie Becker) who show up primarily to be executed by the bad guys in order to raise the stakes and create tension. And that’s basically it for female presence. It’s not just that so-called hot/on the rise female actresses end up vying for the coveted love interest/supportive roles in male-centric action movies or prestige dramas like The Imitation Game, it’s that there are often no other characters of note in a given film.

Yesterday saw the release of eight character posters for Warner Bros. /Time Warner Inc.’s Black Mass. Seven of those posters were male, featuring Johnny Depp and such box office dynamos as Corey Stoll, Jesse Plemmons, and Peter Saarsgard. Mixed in with the sausage fest is Dakota Johnson. She is one of three female roles large enough to make the front page of the film’s lengthy IMDB cast list along with Juno Temple and Julianne Nicholson. Those three actresses make up 20% of the film’s primary cast...


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