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It’s About Time Mary Elizabeth Winstead Fully Embraced Her Action Chops

‘Kate’ is the latest addition to an upcoming slate that will see the actor kicking ass.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead Cloverfield Lane
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on April 29th, 2019

With films like Wonder Woman, Atomic Blonde, and Captain Marvel, Hollywood is getting better at making action movies that center around women. It’s still a male-dominated genre, though, and we need more movies that give women a chance to shine. One female performer who’s about to make some contributions to the genre in the near future is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Is this the beginning of a new chapter in her career?

Variety recently shared the news that Winstead has signed on to star in the Netflix action-thriller Kate, where she’ll play an assassin who has 24 hours to live after being poisoned. Instead of spending those final hours waiting to die she sets out to hunt down her killer and deliver an onslaught of ruthless vengeance unto them. That’s a cool premise right there, and it’s one that has all the makings of an exciting thrill ride of a movie.

What’s more exciting, though, is the fact that Winstead seems to be embracing roles that will let her showcase her ass-kicking chops more so than ever before. Kate is the latest addition to an upcoming action-packed slate that includes Ang Lee’s Gemini Man and DC’s Birds of Prey. She has shown glimpses of her action hero potential in the past, with 10 Cloverfield Lane being a strong example, but never to this extent.

Of course, while Winstead is no stranger to appearing in action movies she’s almost never been at the forefront of it all. In Death Proof, she’s part of an ensemble cast of bad-ass women, but it’s her co-stars who get to engage in the car chases and brawling with Kurt Russell. In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, she plays the titular character’s love interest as he fights off several opponents, but Winstead doesn’t get to do much fighting herself. In Live Free or Die Hard, she plays John McClane’s daughter, but that movie mainly belongs to Bruce Willis. It’s about damn time she got to be the main star.

To that end, Winstead has been eyeing meatier parts in action movies for quite some time. In a 2016 interview with Malibu Magazine, she revealed that she wanted to play strong bad-ass heroes, but only if they weren’t mere caricatures of men. Winstead only wants to play characters who have brains to go with their bronze.

“I think there need to be more female action heroines out there that are intelligent and not overly masculine […] Not necessarily the superhero perfect archetype of what an action hero is represented as a lot of times. I would love to find that kind of action heroine role to play.”

Judging by those comments, Winstead’s newfound status as an action star will hopefully see her play interesting characters with some depth. Furthermore, her upcoming movies don’t sound like brainless action fare, either.

Gemini Man, which co-stars Will Smith, is a fascinating one. The film has been over 20 years in the making and sees Winstead play an operative who helps Smith’s character take the fight to a younger version of himself. Lee’s previous forays into the genre have provided plenty of spectacle and thrills, but they also contain some meaningful characterization in between the moments of mayhem. A movie like this definitely seems up Winstead’s street.

As for Birds of Prey, which will see her portray Huntress, she’ll be part of a superhero flick that revolves around a gang of antiheroes. She’s not interested in playing the “perfect archetype”, but her character of Huntress is essentially a vigilante with a dark Mafia past and a real edge. Additionally, Birds of Prey is the first tentpole DCU blockbuster to follow an all-female team, which means that Winstead will be a big part of pop culture history. On top of playing a fun character, she’ll be part of an important movie that will do a lot of good for wider representation in Hollywood.

We don’t know a lot about Kate yet, but knowing Winstead and her desire to play action heroes with layers, her character will be more than a simple one-woman killing machine. Hopefully, she still gets to crack a few skulls and pop a few caps in some asses, though. Winstead has established herself as a consistently great performer who’s comfortable working in any genre she tackles. However, her inherent versatility, coupled with the fact she trains in kickboxing, means that she’s a perfect fit for action movies as well, and I hope she makes plenty of them going forward.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.