Eddie Izzard to Star in Gender-Flipped Jekyll and Hyde Movie?

Clive Simpson is a gender critical gay YouTuber. Today he posted up a little video commenting on a press report that comedian Eddie Izzard was to star in a new version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Except the genders were now flipped so that the heroine, whom Izzard would play, is now Dr Nina Jekyll. Izzard’s a transvestite, who has now declared that he is in ‘girl mode’ and the piece reported how Izzard had struggled with his gender identity while calling him ‘she’ throughout. Simpson was much less supportive, complaining that Izzard wasn’t a woman and had taken the role away from a real one. But I wonder if one of Simpson’s commenters wasn’t closer to the truth when she suggested that this might actually undermine Izzard’s desire to be accepted as a woman, because it occurred to her that they had cast him precisely because he didn’t look female.

I think the commenter has a point. A few years ago Tilda Swinton would have been the go-to actor for this type of role. Decades ago she starred in a film of Virginia Woolf’s book, Orlando, about an Elizabethan boy who changes sex and lives for centuries. She also appeared as an angel, Gabriel, in the film version of the comic book Constantine. My guess is that the producers were similarly looking for an actor able to play androgynous roles. I don’t think its just this movie which as a transgender hero/heroine. Mr H, of Mr H Reviews, reported a little while ago that the forthcoming Hellraiser reboot would have a transgender Pinhead, played by a woman. This is, he said, in line with the original book. Rather than being powerfully masculine, in the source novel, Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart, Pinhead is actually rather camp. The pins hold jewels, and his voice is said to be that of an excited girl. Mr H was looking forward to it, as no doubt were many fans of Barker’s original film and horror fiction. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard much about it since.

There has been a craze in recent years for gender-flipping the central characters in remakes of old movies. I’m not sure any of them have done well. The 2016 feminist reworking of Ghostbusters was a flop and torn to shreds by a fandom that really wasn’t impressed. There have been very many successful films with a powerful, strong woman as the central character ever since Ripley in Alien. People don’t like favourite, legacy characters being changed into the opposite gender, so it would be far better to make original films instead with a strong female central role. My guess is that a gender-flipped Jekyll and Hyde will suffer the same fate as the other gender-flipped movies.

But I also foresee an additional problem. It has a kind of predecessor courtesy of Hammer. Way back in the 1970s this mainstay of British ‘orror released Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde. In this reworking, Jekyll’s potion transforms him into a sexy, glamorous, murderous woman. Of course, this classic of British cinema was made nearly fifty years ago in 1971, but somebody will no doubt remember it and comparisons may well be made. Unless it’s done very well, this movie could be doomed.

Here’s the trailer for the Hammer flick:

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One Response to “Eddie Izzard to Star in Gender-Flipped Jekyll and Hyde Movie?”

  1. Brian Burden Says:

    There was an earlier Hammer treatment of Stevenson’s novel in the 1950s. The film featured Raymond Massey in one of the roles (I think), and the gimmick here was that Hyde was a v personable young man in contrast to the dour Jekyll. The high point of the film comes when Hyde seduces Jekyll’s wife! The Hammer films I enjoyed most in my youth were their first Dracula, which featured Christopher Lee as Drac and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and was remarkably faithful to Stoker’s original, and The Hound Of The Baskervilles, which featured Lee as Sir Henry and Cushing as Holmes, and took entertaining liberties with Doyle’s story. The Hammer series was rather like the Carry On series, in that, generally speaking, the same leading actors were used throughout and all the films in the series followed the same tried and tested formula!

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