Adi Shankar on Hollywood Sexism vs. The Female Expendables

Dredd Olivia Thirlby Female Expendables

CraveOnline: One of things you wanted to put together that I thought was really cool, and I know it isn’t together yet, is the all-star female action movie.

Adi Shankar: Oh my gosh, yeah!

That’s so overdue. Where are we at with that? It’s been a while since we had an update.

Literally can’t get that off the ground.


“It’s sexism. Literally sexism. There’s still this belief that women cannot open movies.”


Why not?

We literally can’t get that off the ground because… it’s sexism. Literally sexism. There’s still this belief that women cannot open movies. And the thing is, what will happen is, a movie starring a woman will do very well, then it will be like, “Oh, it’s because of that one person.” 

Right. It’s always the exception to the rule.

It’s that one person.

So what can we do? Can you get that one person? I’ve heard that argument for Lucy, for example: “People just like Scarlett Johansson.” 


Can you push and try to get Scarlett Johansson, or are we just waiting for a massive paradigm shift in order to get something like this off the ground?

Massive paradigm shift. Massive paradigm shift. You know, I could pare the script down, bring the budget like way down, but just a massive paradigm shift. I think that’s what we’re looking at.

Are you committed to keep trying or are you reaching the point now where you think it might be best to move on?

I think I might just have to just reverse engineer that concept into something else, right?

How do you mean?

Well like, this is just an example. I’m getting [into] Dredd because we’ve talked about that to death, but the point is, you look at a movie like Dredd. On the poster you’ve got Judge Dredd on the poster with his gun. [But] the movie is about the women.

It is, yeah. He’s more of a device in a lot of ways.

The set-up is Training Day. Who is the lead of Training Day, right? It’s Ethan Hawke’s movie.

Thank you. I feel like people don’t understand that.

Yeah. Denzel [Washington] steals the show. It’s Ethan Hawke’s movie. 

Exactly. So you think it might reach a point where in order to make a film about badass women, there needs to be a male at the center as a selling point, and then you can marginalize him in the plot?


It’s cynical that that’s the way we’d have to do it, but if that’s the way we’d have to do it, so be it, right?

Yeah. Everything in this world is a series of loopholes, right? It’s just a bunch of people saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, no” until someone finds a way to do it, and then they’re like, “Oh wow!” And then that becomes the new paradigm. “Electronics look ugly. They have to look ugly!” No. “Oh wow, now all the electronics development is looking cool!”


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.