Rebecca Hall on “Christine” and Gender Dynamics in Commercial Hollywood

Rebecca Hall, the British actress and star of the criminally under-appreciated 2016 film Christine, did not shy away from some revealing discussion about gender in an interview published late last on year on The Business podcast with Kim Masters, touching on both the struggles that the real-life Christine went through, as well as her role that was essentially left on the cutting room floor in 2013’s Iron Man 3.

Based on the real life Florida television reporter Christine Chubbuck, who took her own life on air in 1974 at the age of 29, Christine drew Hall in because of this story, one which she recalls was quite difficult to uncover. Notorious only because of the supreme and public act of violence which took her life, Chubbuck was, in Hall’s mind, at the risk of falling into the “annals of history” as a footnote and nothing more. “I did this film to know the person behind it,” Hall states and, although the film crew and Hall herself were unable to talk to many people who knew Chubbuck personally, Hall was drawn to the social-historical context of the film as well. The role, which Hall describes as “scary” on the podcast, is indeed a crucial and necessary one and one in which the supremely talented Hall rises to the occasion by delivering a deeply complex, thought-provoking, and absolutely Oscar-worthy performance.

The film, too, is an important one. On the podcast, Hall describes the complexity of the film as Taxi Driver-esque which feels aptly appropriate for a film that examines mental illness is such a genuine and non-judgmental lens. Important as well is that fact that the film features a strong (and fragile) female lead, another factor attributing to Hall’s passion about the project. Ever rare in any case, yet alone a case as delicate as this, Hall is no stranger to the unique position (to say the least) of women in Hollywood.

During the production of Iron Man 3, directed by Shane Black, whom I have mentioned previously here, Hall was reportedly told that she’d be playing the principal villain of the film. However, halfway through production, Hall found her role to have been greatly reduced prompting her to claim “I signed up to do something very different to what I ended up doing.” Even after the film was released and the news broke that the studio had changed Hall’s role because they preferred a male villain, nothing much came of the change and, although she was vocal in her willingness to talk about it, very few people ever asked her. Hall, a veteran of the industry, is well aware of the situation she found herself in–“I don’t get to be the lead in a tiny independent film unless I bring in the money to make it,” she said.

Hall, an incredibly talented and intelligent filmmaker, has effectively established herself, very quietly, as one of the very best in the industry even if she has yet to break into the Hollywood mainstream. If Hall continues to churn out reliably excellent performances–look at not only Christine, but also The Gift (Edgerton, 2015)–then it is not unreasonable to think that she will stick around in both independent and big-budget features for quite some time.

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