It has been well-established that there are few things that internet trolls hate more than female-driven remakes of popular Hollywood comedies: just ask the casts of Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8, several of whom have spoken up about the backlash they received online before and after those movies arrived in theaters. Unfortunately, there’s also a comedy gender gap within the film industry, as Rebel Wilson discovered while working on The Hustle, a remake of the 1988 hit Dirty Rotten Scoundrels co-starring Wilson and Anne Hathaway in roles previously played by Steve Martin and Michael Caine, respectively.
As a producer on the movie as well as one of the leads, Wilson was shocked to learn that the MPAA slapped it with an R-rating when Scoundrels was released as a PG-rated film. “I thought it was extremely unfair that a reboot of that was given an R-rating just because us two sexy ladies were in it,” the Pitch Perfect star tells Yahoo Entertainment. (Watch our video interview above.)
Sadly, The Hustle isn’t a unique case: in preparing to appeal the decision directly to the ratings board, Wilson discovered that the MPAA has a history of handing out stricter ratings to female-led comedies. “I thought it was quite sexist that male-driven comedies were much more likely to get PG ratings ... when, on a scientific analysis, female-driven comedies had less swear words, less nudity and less violence,” she tells us. Her argument ultimately persuaded the ratings board to overturn their previous decision, downgrading The Hustle’s R-rating to a PG-13.
Despite that victory, both actresses acknowledge that hurdles remain to full gender equality in comedy. Hathaway notes that she’s had experiences on previous films where jokes that she told one way on set were edited in a different way in the finished cut. “Sometimes I felt like the joke got cut off a little bit,” she says, while also taking care to note that those changes could have had something to do with her performance. “It could have been that I wasn’t very funny! So I don’t necessarily want to claim gender inequality for that one. I just might not have stuck the landing.”
“I don’t think there’s an intent to make the female characters less than,” Wilson remarks of her own experiences in male-driven studio comedies. “It’s more just because those movies are typically written by guys and directed by guys, so you’re working at a disadvantage even from the script level when you come in as the chick in the film. It’s so cool to this movie where we’re both there everyday in these two comic set-pieces just bringing it.”
The Hustle opens in theaters on Friday.
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