Spike's new small screen adaptation of Stephen King's eerie novella The Mist will sport at least one significant change to the source material and its resulting cinematic take: a leading female protagonist.
In the book and 2007 film version, the central character of the story is David Drayton (played by Thomas Jane in the movie), who is charged with defending his son from the titular monster-filled storm that's befallen their small town in Maine. They've also been stranded in a grocery store with an alarmingly convincing religious zealot named Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), who rouses the survivors into dangerous mob-like behaviors.
In the TV take, however, the present and protective parent role goes to Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland), who must shield her daughter Alex (Gus Birney) from the man who'd previously assaulted her while the two are stuck inside a mall. Meanwhile, the father (Morgan Spector) is fighting to make way to them in the midst of, well, the mist. The series is being pegged as a "reimagination" rather than a remake, but there are still some of those familiar elements from the original(s) -- including the unsettling words of Frances Conroy's character, who doesn't seem so much bound to the Biblical implications of the matter, as she does the purely nihilistic justifications for flesh-eating monsters existing in our realm.
As the premiere of this new adaptation of The Mist approaches, here's a look back at some of the other television programs that successfully gender-bent a major role -- sometimes without fans even knowing about it.
There are a number of moments in HBO's Game of Thrones that stand out as exceptionally epic, with the white walker battle sequence in Season 5's "Hardhome" near the top of the list. One of the Wildlings who seemingly fell in the epic stand-off between man and winter zombie was Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), a character that was originally envisioned as male but had much more of an impact as a woman.
The episode's director, Miguel Sapochnik, told MTV News, "She was a guy originally, and then somewhere in the process we thought it might be cool if she were a mother, and show her sending off her own kids to make that moment with the corpse children really resonate emotionally. As the sequence was refined, she emerged as this clear representative of all the Wildlings, which was organic, and it made us care. Then we started casting and saw Birgitte's work and she got the part." Of all the one-off characters who've come and gone in miserable fashion in the oh-so-violent adaptation of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" worldscape, Karsi's tragic refusal to kill an underage walker (and thus protect herself from becoming one herself) was a real gut punch.
Although Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) would later become as a central figure in the love life of Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), the character was originally written as female. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino told Entertainment Weekly that the diner owner was meant to be a woman, until The WB stepped in and insisted more male voices were necessary for the show.
"I literally just took a character and changed the name, didn't even change any of the dialogue because I'm that lazy," she said. Ultimately, though, the actors' chemistry superseded any unromantic intentions for the role and things proceeded to get more complicated than your average barista-customer relationship.
It's a well-known fact that in most visions of the Sherlock Holmes universe, Watson is a dude. From Hubert Willis, to Nigel Bruce, to Jude Law, to Martin Freeman, any number of men have occupied the role of Sherlock's trusty sidekick. So when CBS launched Elementary, they decided to switch it up and cast Lucy Liu in the docterly role instead of another guy.
Writer Robert Doherty told fans at 2012's San Diego Comic-Con (via The Mary Sue), "When this opportunity arose, I did a lot of research--psychological assessments of the original characters by actual doctors. One of the things I came across is that Holmes struggles a bit with women. He struggles with people in general, but there are moments when he doesn't quite seem to get the fairer sex. What could be more trying for Sherlock Holmes than working with Watson as a woman?"
For Marvel and Netflix's Jessica Jones, Jeryn Hogarth became known as Jeri Hogarth and was played by actress Carrie-Anne Moss, rather than a male, as drawn in the Marvel comics. Moss herself has called the switcheroo an afterthought, telling MTV News, "[it] didn't really influence me at all, the fact that the name was a male name. I think more interesting to me is that I'm playing the first lesbian character in Marvel."
In fact, she found the chaos of her character's personal decisions to be quite poetic for the very reason that she's a woman, instead of a man. "Often what I'm depicting is shown with men all the time: the older man leaving his long term partner for somebody young and hot," she explained. "So I liked that she's so strong and everything, but at the same time, you see what a mess her personal life is."
It might be hard to picture Mr. Spock as anyone other than Leonard Nimoy (well, except for Zachary Quinto, who plays him in the modern movie versions) in Star Trek, but the role was originally less gender-specific than it seems. Actress Nichelle Nichols, who went on to play Uhura in the show, revealed that when she originally auditioned for Star Trek, she read for the part of Spock.
Speaking to Trek Nation, she explained, "They gave me a three-page script to read from that had three characters named Bones, Kirk and somebody called Spock, and they asked me if I would read for the role of Spock. When I looked at this great text, I said to myself, 'I'll take any one of these roles,' but I found the Spock character to be very interesting, and I asked them to tell me what she was like." The Vulcan officer would later become male, of course, carving out a place in pop culture iconography, thanks in part to his signature salutation.
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