Salt director wrings hands about male love interest’s manliness

Salon found this in “Entertainment Weekly’s” report on what groundbreaking feminism the filmmakers behind Salt employed when they gave the lead role written for Tom Cruise to Angelina Jolie:

“In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt (the original male protagonist) saves his wife, who’s in danger,” says Noyce. “And what we found in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little. So we had to change the nature of that relationship.” In the end, Salt’s husband, played by German actor August Diehl (‘Inglourious Basterds’), was made tough enough that he didn’t need saving, thank you much.

Angelina JolieThere you go. Getting rescued doesn’t “castrate” a woman because she doesn’t have a penis. Perhaps we should ask firefighters to ascertain the gender of people in a burning building and be careful not to save the men. Better fried than castrated, right?

Does the audience really think this way? Would young men who paid money to watch Angelina Jolie kick ass squirm uncomfortably in their seats because she rescues her husband? And let’s be honest: the husband is a Love Interest. Therefore, no one gives a righteous rat’s ass what he does or whether he has any character. His role is to Be Pretty and Put Out for Angelina’s character. Or at least, that’s what his role would be if he were a female love interest.


  1. sbg says

    Except to say: I don’t think they were saying a man can’t be in need of rescue. I think they were saying a man can’t be in need of rescue by a woman. That’s the castrating thing, there.

  2. Dom Camus says

    I’ve never heard anyone express that sentiment.

    Blokes save each other all the time in war movies, so I think sbg’s right that there’s clearly nothing “wrong” with being saved in general.

    Besides, that kind of scene might even do some good in terms of lowest-common-denominator mainstream box office ratings, because I’m pretty much 100% sure it’s not just me that finds competent female characters sexy. And sex sells, amirite? :-)

  3. John says

    So was Salt supposed to be rescued by his wife in the original script? I don’t understand what’s going on here.

  4. Ikkin says

    Is “a man cannot be rescued by a woman” a new rule or something? Because I thought that having a female lead save her male love interest was pretty standard nowadays (with the usual caveat being “as long as he gets to return the favor at some point”).

  5. Mary says

    What is wrong with Hollywood?

    I remember the Italian Fantaghiro films from the 90s in which the female lead always had to save her male love interest. He was a blond prince, who had never even kissed a woman before he got engaged to Fantaghiro, the female hero, and the audience still thought he was hot.
    There must be more than a few people who like the idea of a female warrior saving a handsome prince, because those 5 films were a huge success in Europe.

  6. says

    John, Salt rescued his wife in the original script. But with the gender role reversal, that would be “castrating” to the wife-turned-husband character. That’s what the filmmakers are saying, at least.

    And yes, SBG is right – the “problem” is probably that he’s being rescued by a woman. So, I should retract the bit about firefighters and urge that female cops NOT, I repeat NOT respond to desperate pleas for rescue from men when these pleas occur on their beat. Better the men should die than feel all “castrated” because a woman rescued them.

    Except, you know, not. In my experience, men who would complain about a woman saving a man in fiction or real life are few and far between.

  7. Jen says

    I know WE all think that’s crazy, right.
    But actually I know loads of boys who, if told this would be like:

    ‘Yeah, so what? Dude would look a bit of a pussy if his wife had to save him, right? That would just be stupid! HAHAHAHAHA’

    sigh. People disappoint me on a daily basis.

  8. Elee says

    I remember when all that hype around Angelina Jolie began it was around the time she played Lara Croft, who’s two best characteristics are being a sex-symbol and handling her guns really well. So wouldn’t it be actually MORE appealing for hardcore fans to see her again als an ass-kicking heroine? *shaking head*

  9. says

    Elee, the first time I saw the Lara Croft film I was at a lesbian night in a bar and it was projected with the sound off. It actually was pretty cool when you could not hear the dialog. I thought it looked like such an awesome film I really wanted to rent it (I am a big fan of Indiana Jones-style movies). I also have never played the videogames by the same title. When I rented it and heard the dialog I was deeply disappointed.

  10. Elee says

    Bakka, there was dialog?? *duck* I watched both movies and have them on dvd, but I thought the suckier parts of the films (like everything besides Jolie, Butler and stunts) is a common problem with videogames-going-films, so I expected that it wouldn’t be up to Indiana Jones, though it isn’t a paragon of brillance, too. Just look at Doom or Resident Evil. Nice images, lot of action, don’t hurt your brain thinking.

  11. Scarlett says

    I was watching the second movie with my boyfriend recently – he thought the dumbest thing he had ever seen was the bit where they go a fair way underwater and get to the lost castle or whatever it was which must’ve had its own centuries-old airpocket or something… until it got to the bit where she hitches a ride with a shark :p

  12. says

    Damn. :-/ This makes me sad for two reasons. First, the sexism fail. But second because I really enjoy it when there’s a fella-in-distress that gets saved by a woman.

    But, wait, I’m a 25 year old woman so nobody in Hollywood cares to please me! Nevermind.

  13. Kayle says

    I’m a little confused: How does saving his wife castrate HIM (that’s the quote)? Unless a regular guy who’s already “bending over backward” to support his badass wife makes him a TOTAL pushover in crazy Guyland, I don’t get it.
    Use of “castrate” in reference to female character: AGREED FAIL.
    Women who take action are not stand-ins for men or men wanna-bes. Nuff said.

  14. Casey says


    What they meant is that, in the revised script, Salt would be FEMALE, hence, if SHE were to rescue her HUSBAND as opposed to Edwin Salt rescuing his WIFE, that would castrate the new husband character.

    It’s fucking stupid.

  15. says


    In other words, when they gender-flipped the couple they realized that Michael was a weak character, which never bothered them when he was still Michelle. They had to make Michael’s role stronger because of course a husband wouldn’t be that passive. Damsels in distress = fine storytelling, dudes in distress = castrated.

    I think all stories should be gender-flipped as a hypothetical exercise. The filmmakers should have realized the spouse was a weak character back when Tom Cruise was still signed on to be Salt.


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