Film Forward

Michelle Rodriguez Wants Better Representation Of Female Characters In The 'Fast & Furious' Franchise — Or Else

"I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one."

Michelle Rodriguez has become synonymous with the Fast & Furious franchise — having played a major part in it since the very beginning — but the actress seems to be ready to abandon it all if some things don't change. Taking to Instagram, Rodriguez threatened to leave the films behind after the next one if they didn't improve upon their representation of female characters.

"I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one," Rodriguez wrote. "Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise. It's been a good ride & I'm grateful for the opportunity the fans and studio have provided over the years."

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When it comes to the main set of characters, there are really only two other actresses other than Rodriguez (who has played Letty Ortiz in six installments) that have been at the forefront. There was — and we use the past tense for a reason — Jordana Brewster (who appeared in five installments) and Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot (who appeared in three installments). The rest of the main cast is played by actors such as Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and, of course, the late Paul Walker. 

This means Rodriguez is the sole female in this male-dominated crew. That said, there have been other women represented throughout the series, with recent additions being supporting characters played by Elsa Pataky and Nathalie Emmanuel, and the franchise's first-ever major villainess played by the incomparable Charlize Theron in The Fate of the Furious.

As PerezHilton.com points out, Rodriguez's character was seemingly killed off in the fourth installment only to be reintroduced in the sixth, Gadot's character was killed off in the sixth, Brewster's character seemingly left for good in the seventh, Pataky's character was killed off in the most recent eighth — and some of these moments were plot devices to further develop the male characters they were intertwined with.

This is certainly not the first time Rodriguez has spoken up about women in the Fast & Furious franchise — as she has specifically done so in relation to her character's relationship with Brewster's character. "I can count on one hand how many lines I've had to [Brewster's character]," Rodriguez said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly just last month, going on to call that situation "pathetic" and a "lack of creativity," but is just the harsh reality in the "male-dominated environment" that is Hollywood is. Brewster echoed Rodriguez's sentiment — and the two have connected on social media over the issue before. 

The reason for this, at least according to Rodriguez, is that men don't know how to write dialogue for women. She copped up to rewriting many of her lines for years in various films.

The 38-year-old actress also spoke up about the importance of showcasing female independence in movies as they're shown in parts of the world where women "are treated like trash." Rodriguez said that's something a "complete, sheer, utter feminist" such as herself can just sit around and not try to address and improve. 

And, in an effort to try and make a difference, Rodriguez let it be known in that same interview that she knows her involvement in the film is a bargaining chip that can be used if needed. Rodriguez, noting that money isn't enough of a reason to stick around if something compromises someone's ethics or morals, said: "At the end of the day, the only leverage I have as an individual is my participation. That's the only leverage I ever use with anything."

Hopefully, the Fast & Furious franchise will listen to Rodriguez — as it's seemed to have done before — and work on expanding the roles that women get to play and continue pushing the envelope of what female characters are able to do on the big screen.

Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock.com

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

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