Anthony Mosawi has worked in the film industry for a number of years; he has now turned his hand to fiction and his first novel Trust No One reads like a summer blockbuster movie. Over the years he’s been fascinated by the rise of the female lead in action movies. Here he tells us a little more about the inspiration behind his protagonist, Sara Eden:
A few years ago, I worked at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. One of the films I worked on was “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” with Angelina Jolie. It was an expensive film – big action set pieces, exotic locations – with a nine-figure price tag. At the time, it was the most expensive action film made with a female lead. Was the studio nervous? Absolutely.
Female-led action movies are a relatively recent phenomenon. The action movies of the 80s with strong female roles – Linda Hamilton in “Terminator” and Sigourney Weaver in “Alien” – weren’t at the time considered female-led. They’ve only become viewed in that way over time. “Terminator” was Arnold’s movie. And the lead in Alien had its name in the title.
It’s only in the last few years that we’ve had women playing roles in action movies that could have gone to a man. Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde”. Angelina Jolie in “Salt”. Even Bond, as the producers were reportedly considering actresses as well, until Daniel Craig was recast.
Was the American studios’ view on action movies an example of Hollywood double-standards, like unequal pay or the casting couch mentality that is being dismantled by the MeToo movement? Possibly, but more likely the answer was commercial. The studios always assumed that action movies were watched by boys, mostly, and boys would want to identify with their lead character. Girls, they thought, wanted different sorts of movies.
Boys were from Mars, girls from Venus.
“Tomb Raider” changed that, and since then, with movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Hunger Games,” it’s becoming increasingly clear action movies too aren’t enjoyed by a singular gender. It’s becoming a similar story in TV. And videogames. And comic books. And novels…
I was doing some travel recently and found myself sitting in a lot of airports, with a fair amount of time on my hands. I began to sketch out an idea. An action-thriller. It started with a child, abandoned and left in an empty house. The child’s memory is gone, brainwashed away. And the horror of it is the mother is the culprit, to make sure the child never finds her. It wasn’t my conscious choice, but I found the natural lead for me was a woman.
I didn’t know if the idea was a film or TV show or a book. So, I wrote it in the form of action scenes, which would hopefully be fun to read or watch. When I decided it was a book, the amount of action in the story tipped the book into the action-thriller genre. With a female lead.
Ten years ago, the book would likely have been abandoned, much like my protagonist. But, luckily for me, it seemed to have the benefit of timing. Penguin is publishing it this summer. If it sounds like your cup of tea, feel free to check it out. Whatever your gender.
Trust No One is available in paperback, published by Penguin on the 23rd August