Michelle Rodriguez Is About to Play a Transgender Action Hero, Sort of

Michelle Rodriguez in Furious 7

Universal Pictures

Fast and Furious franchise star Michelle Rodriguez is set to play the lead role in the upcoming revenge-actioner Tomboy, A Revenger’s Tale co-written and directed by Walter Hill (Bullet to the Head, 48 Hrs.), according to THR.

The story revolves around a hit man who winds up being double-crossed by gangsters only to find himself in the hands of an evil surgeon named ‘The Doctor’, played by Sigourney Weaver. ‘The Doctor’ turns the assassin into a woman (Rodriguez), who is now a hit woman out for blood and revenge. The project was picked up by Said Ben Said and Michel Merkt of SBS after it made the rounds at TIFF. Filming begins in Vancouver November 9th. Freida Pinto was originally attached but dropped out and was replaced by Rodriguez. It will be a welcomed sight to see Rodriguez in a lead role, and given that the film will be an action-revenge tale, it should suit her well.

What’s more intriguing is the element of an involuntary gender-reassignment surgery. Since the film is being described as an action and revenge story, it’s not clear the tone in which Hill will approach the actual transformation and for that matter even the idea of gender-reassignment. Surgery does not alone make Rodriguez’s character transgender, but that is a possibility if in the narrative, she gradually or ultimately identifies with her new sexual identity. Right now it’s anyone’s guess and there are plenty of questions as to which direction Hill is going to take and what he may or may not touch on. The movie could end up being incredibly progressive and an inquiry into gender issues or just wind up using the gender-swap as a plot device.

Neither route is necessarily better or worse since it’s Hill’s movie and no one else’s, but when the story hinges on such a relevant topic like gender re-assignment, one hopes the director uses that to touch on or examine underlying themes instead of simply using it as a cheap plot device. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the film is going to take, and if Tomboy shapes up to be something more than another run-of-the-mill revenge tale.