SAN FRANCISCO-It seems that every time there is a strong female character leading a big Hollywood film, those involved inevitably get asked questions that make it seem as if strong female characters are groundbreaking.
This goes against all of Hollywood history.
When did Golden Age stars like Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis ever play anything but strong women?
What about Uma Thurman's Beatrix Kiddo in the Kill Bill films? Or Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the Alien franchise? Or Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games films? Or any of the various heroines in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle Rodriguez and Angelina Jolie in just about anything they are in?
Strong female leads, even in action-movies, are not new.
However, by choosing to go with Felicity Jones and having the lead in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story be "Jyn Erso" instead of "Jim Erso," Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has taken a slight risk that could pay off by having Erso key the most successful and profitable film with a female lead of all time.
But even Kennedy bristles a bit when people treat the idea of a strong female lead as something groundbreaking.
"I think you're absolutely right." she said in response to my question at the exclusive Rogue One press event. "I find that it is a bit irritating that when there's progress being made and strong female characters being created, they tend to be forgotten. I think that's because long periods of time go on in between."
"But these are big, tentpole-frankly, men-driven, boy-driven-kinds of entertainment in the past. That's why I was saying that the idea of a female hero is what's new," Kennedy continued. "I think that heroine concept is what's been lacking and I think that with this movie, the irony is, she's not just a female hero.
"She's a very strong, wonderful character in a movie," Kennedy concluded. "To highlight that as being something specific to being a woman-I agree-that's what I hope disappears over time, that we're not constantly highlighting this as though it's something unusual, but that it actually just becomes the vernacular of storytelling."