In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Blake Lively shares her experience playing a character who is blind. In playing Gina, the most interesting aspect of her character wasn't her blindness, but the ability to portray a woman who is flawed. When it was mentioned during the interview how cool it is to see a woman change in a movie and not be judged for it, Lively's response highlights how important realistic portrayals of imperfect women are in media.
"Yeah, and I think that that's real life. Women experience highs and lows, and women do 'good' things or 'bad' things... We're always so obsessed with women being likable in movies. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard 'well, she has to be likable.' I never heard that about a man in a movie. I never heard them say that about a character my husband [Ryan Reynolds] has played."
The idea of portraying a "charming asshole" was also something she expressed interest in during the interview. As Lively mentions about her husband, gender expectations give him different allowances in what those portrayals mean than they do for her. She talks about how he has played "really serious assholes" but his charm offsets the offensiveness of his characters. For men, playing "charming assholes" is about balancing what could be rude on a page with the "love, warmth, and affection" that makes them likable.
Though Lively isn't the first woman to speak about allowing more realistic portrayals of womanhood on screen, not all women have equal access to this kind of representation. We're starting to see women of color — especially Black women — allowed this kind of flawed personhood in shows like Insecure or films like the upcoming Proud Mary (where Taraji P. Henson will be playing an assassin for hire — just the kind of "asshole" role that men have been playing for decades). Despite this, there is overlap that all women experience when it comes to shouldering gender expectations.
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