Rebecca Hall Recalls Marvel Villain She Never Got to Play: ‘It Was Heartbreaking’

Actress discusses her reduced role in comic blockbuster, praises progress of women in superhero films

Last Updated: October 29, 2016 @ 11:40 AM

Three years ago, indie treasure Rebecca Hall had a small part in the Marvel blockbuster “Iron Man 3,” a role that was cut considerably, it was later revealed.

Executives behind the Robert Downey Jr.-Gwyneth Paltrow film were reportedly concerned about merchandising a female antagonist to consumers, and while the actress is still nursing her wounds, she’s happy with the pro-women progress in the superhero space since then.

“I signed up to a role that played to the end of the film, and had a big part in the ending, a significant role,” Hall said during a recent chat for TheWrap’s Oscar magazine. “But halfway through filming, that all changed. It was quite shocking. It happens more than you think.”

Hall admitted the ordeal “was heartbreaking, but that was a few years ago now. They have to be able to sell female action figures now if they are putting women in lead roles. I hope everything will trickle down accordingly.”

Her costar Guy Pearce was eventually shifted into the central villain role (Aldrich Killian) of “Iron Man 3,” with an assist from Sir Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery. But the major comic studios Marvel and DC Comics are beginning to shift away from a boys club model.

“The tide is turning,” Hall said. “There seem to be more big franchises that are becoming more female centric, and have women leads, whether it is Brie Larson [“Captain Marvel”] or ‘Wonder Woman,’ and I think that’s great.”

So would she suit up tomorrow if the offer came in?

“I would not turn my nose up at one of those. But I don’t think I’ll rush into playing a part that may be reduced in a hurry,” she said with a laugh.

The concerns over toys and other products marketed around Hall foreshadowed a controversy around another hot Disney property — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and its lead Daisy Ridley.

Fans used the hashtag #WheresRey last year to express their outrage over the absence of Ridley’s character in a box set of action figures, as well as a lack of Rey-themed toys in aisles overall.

All the male actors, a Stormtrooper and a TIE Fighter pilot were included in the set, igniting criticism of stores and manufacturer Hasbro for including two generic troopers in the set while excluding Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie.

This came after Hasbro, the main manufacturer of Disney toys, excluded Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow from boxed sets for “The Avengers” and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“We have to keep screaming and shouting about it,” Hall added about more female-centric toys. “It’s about time.”