Charlize Theron is supporting Michelle Rodriguez's criticism of the Fast & Furious franchise. Late last month, Rodriguez threatened to leave the franchise if it didn't start placing equal importance on its female characters via a post on Instagram. Her co-star, Vin Diesel, has publicly stood by her - and she later clarified her comments weren't aimed at him - while Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray disagreed with her remarks, at least in regard to the one movie he helmed, saying he felt Theron had made "one of the best antagonists" in the entire series.
Rodriguez has had a strong presence in the action saga since the beginning, playing Letty Ortiz, the longtime love interest of Dom (Diesel). She's appeared in five of its eight films, including the original 2001 movie, The Fast and the Furious, and the most recent, the aforementioned Fate of the Furious. She's now the only original female character left in the franchise, though women including Jordana Brewster, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky and Nathalie Kelley have also been featured throughout its decade-plus run.
Charlize Theron, who played cyberterrorist villain Cypher in Fate of the Furious, has now joined Diesel in backing Rodriguez. During an interview on Watch What Happens Live, she said that Rodriguez's complaints were "super valid":
"This is somebody who has been with this franchise for a really long time. And I can personally say I am a fan of the franchise because of her. She's incredible. She's incredible. And she's the heart of that whole franchise."
Host Andy Cohen then suggested that "Vin Diesel can spare some of his cash," to which Charlize jokingly replied, "Vin, give her your money."
The conflict, of course, isn't directed at Diesel, but rather the series' tendency to give male leads meatier roles - something Rodriguez addressed at length during a May interview with Entertainment Weekly:
"I’ve been making movies with Jordana, who plays the sister of Dom Toretto, for 16 years and I can count on one hand how many lines I’ve had to her. I think that’s pathetic and it’s lack of creativity," she told the outlet, going on to push writers to do more than bring on "an amazing actress to play the bad guy" and call for having "women do things independently outside of what the boys are doing."
While it's true the series has included a number of compelling female characters - most notably with the addition of Theron - they're often pushed aside for male-dominated storylines. Rodriguez's character has been a staple in the series, but she's more of an advocate for Dom than anything else, and it sounds like Rodriguez is pushing for more independent narratives.
And the problem isn't unique to Fast: According to The Wrap, the next 149 movies by major studios over the next three years includes just 12 female directors, a mere 1 percent improvement over 2016's figures. Against that backdrop, it's clear Fast is just one of many projects with room to deepen its inclusivity, and it's no wonder Theron is standing behind Rodriguez.
Source: Watch What Happens Live