Rebecca Hall: Hollywood should let women play 'ugly' roles like Christine Chubbuck

Christine allowed Hall to be 'bold and not concerned about being liked'

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The Independent Culture

Rebecca Hall wowed the Sundance Film Festival with her gritty portrayal of Christine Chubbuck earlier this month but only wishes more women had the chance to play “ugly” roles.

The Golden Globe nominee stars in Christine, about the tragic news anchor who killed herself during a live TV broadcast in 1974. Her performance has been widely acclaimed, leaving her “overwhelmed” by the number of responses that it is “so rare to see something like this”. The reason? Hollywood’s fear of presenting unlikeable female characters.

“I really think that Christine is one in a million, in terms of independent or studio,” she told the Guardian when asked whether it frustrated her that the best parts for women are often found in smaller films. “Christine is unusual in that I was allowed to be bold and not be concerned about being liked.

“I think that female roles: they can be victims, they can be sympathetic, they can be in pain, they can be in suffering - but they can’t be ugly. I think there’s so much fear surrounding that, that it makes a film unlikeable, that it won’t sell.”

Hall admitted that it irritates her how many opportunities men get to “do this sort of thing all the time”. “You look at countless performances by great male actors who get to play the whole gamut of human emotions,” she said. 

“Women aren’t regularly allowed to do that and I don’t know why people are so frightened by it. The moment you do, I’m struck by how many people come up to you. We’re just not given the opportunity so much.”

The complexity of Hall’s latest character is arguably best summed up in the eulogy reportedly read at her funeral. Presbyterian minister Thomas Beason said of Chubbuck: “We suffer at our sense of loss, we are frightened by her rage, we are guilty in the face of her rejection, we are hurt by her choice of isolation and we are confused by her message.”