Tessa Thompson revealed why the Men In Black film franchise left ‘men’ in the title, despite the actress being the leading female for the new movie.
The 35-year-old actress will hit the big screen for her first leading role in Men in Black: International this weekend, and Tessa spoke about she hoped her place will help further provide diversity and inclusivity to Hollywood.
When speaking to Variety about the role, Tessa was asked why Men in Black kept the name even though it involves a female lead. She admitted to not minding the name, as it remained true to the well-known franchise.
Making waves: Tessa Thompson, 35, will star in her first leading role with Men in Black: International, which comes out this weekend
Slight difference: Tessa revealed how they remained true to the Men in Black because it is a well-known franchise, despite now having a female lead
Important: But the actress also hoped her role in the movie would help propel Hollywood into a more inclusive and diverse arena
‘My presence in it because I’m a woman shouldn’t diminish the fact that we’re making a movie very much in the same tone and style as the original films,’ she told the publication.
Tessa went on to detail one moment with Emma Thompson, who also stars in the movie, said while filming that touched on the male-centered title.
‘Emma Thompson has a brilliant quip in the movie where I say “Men in Black” because I’m confused that that is the title of the organization, and she goes, “I know, I’ve had the conversation, it’s taking time,”‘ Tessa explained.
‘And I think that what she speaks to, which is funny but true, is that change happens sometimes faster than we have language to describe what changed has occurred.’
But Tessa went on to express how ‘maybe that will change’ if she and her co-star Chris Hemsworth are able to continue the franchise for future films.
The Men In Black franchise first launched in 1997 with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith leading the concept into stardom. The premise of the movie was loosely based on The Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers.
Both movies for the franchise had a ‘boys club’ theme, as the secret organization consisted mainly of men fighting the aliens on Earth.
True: ‘My hope is that we can get to a space inside of Hollywood where it’s not noteworthy that a woman should be topping a studio film,’ Tessa said
Incredible: Tessa also thought it was important for people to see someone onscreen who relates to them as gender queer and non-binary
But now Tessa is hoping she can help bring forward the women and their stories that can also have a place in the Men in Black universe.
‘There have always been women inside of the Men In Black universe, they just have never been at the forefront of any of these stories,’ Tessa said.
‘My hope is that we can get to a space inside of Hollywood where it’s not noteworthy that a woman should be topping a studio film,’ she continued. ‘Unfortunately, it’s still something that we feel we have to acknowledge and congratulate because it just happens not frequently enough.’
Not only does Tessa recognize the importance of being a female lead, but she has also acknowledged the significance of being gender queer and non-binary. Descriptors, she noted, that are important for younger children to see when they also identify similarly.
‘The truth is, so many women have asked me — and men, too — have said, “What does it mean that a whole generation of young girls can see themselves in this film?”‘ Tessa said.
‘That’s significant…But I also think it’s important that young boys, folks that are gender queer, non-binary get to see me in this space because we just need more representation.’
She wanted people to be able to relate to the character, whether they are gender queer or not, so they could better understand the perspective of others around them.
‘It’s important to go into a cinema and to relate to a protagonist who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t have your particulars,’ Tess explained to Variety.
‘I think that’s what movies are designed to do, is to make us more empathetic and compassionate towards the other, and we have never needed that more — certainly in American history, but I think in a global sphere. That’s always what I want to do on film.’