10 Types of Movie Characters Played Both by Men and Women, and We Can’t Tell Who Did It Better

2 years ago

Just like society in general, cinematography has been changing over the years, broadening its horizons and breaking stereotypes. The roles that used to be written for men only, can now be played by the representatives of both genders. Wild West conquerors, soldiers, bankers, and even war robots — these and many other images have already lost their gender inclinations. However, there are still many hot debates about which gender does better in certain roles.

We at Bright Side decided to recall the types of characters that we’ve seen on the screen by both men and women. And we also thought long and hard about the specific traits those characters have and who played their roles in a more convincing manner.


Daring, risky, and charming Indiana Jones is one of the brightest characters from adventure movies and a cult role for Harrison Ford. He skillfully fought all types of foes, smirked adorably, and kept breaking female hearts for decades.

Lara Croft, who came to the big screen from PlayStation was overcoming dangers as well as the charismatic archeologist. Though viewers are still debating over who embodied the image of the tomb raider better — Angelina Jolie or Alicia Vikander. The character herself turned out to be very expressive and inspiring — she is smart, athletic, and can masterfully cope with various puzzles and enemies, whether they’re bandits or mythical creatures.


There is a countless number of bright lawyers in the cinema world. Let’s look at the main characters of the series that have been popular recently — Suits and How to Get Away with Murder. The plot focuses on self-confident, charismatic, and cynical aces of jurisprudence. Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht, is a true alpha-male and a style icon who has a wonderful ability to present himself in the best light.

Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), in her turn, has 2 sides: the character of a strong and self-sufficient woman that she displays to the world and an exhausted person who she prefers to not show to everyone. Even if we call Harvey Specter’s emotions and mimics in the movie quite reserved, still, we all can agree that Viola Davis managed to unfold the inner world of her character in all colors, making viewers empathize with her character.


Cinematography knows many heartbreakers, but it’s Joey Tribbiani (Friends) and Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother) who can easily be called the main seducers of the last decades. However, while Joey was conquering girls’ hearts mainly with his charisma and charm, Barney approached the matter more thoroughly and inventively. He has even written his own pick-up guide called Playbook.

At the same time, we can also recall many female seducers who made men fall at their feet. Samantha Jones, the character from the Sex and the City series, did it perfectly. She has always known what she wants, she could easily reach her goals, and was able to find a way out of any situation. Max Conners (Heartbreakers), in her turn, played by Sigourney Weaver could be called Samantha’s competitor. Not only was she a simple intrigante but was also a skillful swindler, trapping rich simpletons into her net.

Detectives obsessed with murderers

The cinema world has unfolded the topic of detective’s and policemen’s obsession with serial killers many times. For example, The Silence of the Lambs with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, which has already become a classic. 2 recent series with a similar plot are Hannibal and Killing Eve. The main character of the “male” interpretation is FBI profiler, Will Graham. Hugh Dancy’s character is depicted as a bit anti-social but intellectually talented, with a lot of experience in criminology and a well-developed imagination that helps him solve crimes, but that slowly undermines his psyche.

Sandra Oh embodied the role of an obsessed detective as masterfully as Dancy. As analyst Eve Polastri she turned out to be very lively, plausible, and a bit more down-to-earth than Will Graham. She is an ordinary specialist and workaholic with run-of-the-mill problems with a loving husband at home. Perhaps, it’s the simplicity of Eve and the charisma of Sandra Oh that won over the audience and even brought the actress to the 78th Golden Globe Awards.

Spies and special agents

Over many decades, viewers have loved watching secret agents prevent large-scale catastrophes, save people, and spoil the evil plans of villains. James Bond, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt — all these characters from spy action movies have become a real personification of fearlessness, perseverance, and courage. The main character of the Mission: Impossible franchise is worth mentioning separately because many parts of the tricks and stunts were performed by Tom Cruise himself, which made them look extremely realistic.

We can also recall many special agents among female characters like Nikita, Salt, and Sydney Bristow (Alias). While the character of Jennifer Garner appeared to be quite convincing and strong, with enormous willpower, the spy played by Angelina Jolie was portrayed as too invulnerable and her actions were often illogical and shortsighted.

Fighters with aliens

The movie Predator is a true icon of fantasy thrillers, while Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Major Dutch looks extremely natural. His tremendous charisma, wonderful physically fit body, significant squint, and irony made the character lively and textured, while his inner character was completely and clearly unfolded just like the characters of other “commandos.”

The character of the Alien franchise, which made Sigourney Weaver popular, is not conceding behind Dutch. Ellen is the perfect example of a strong-willed and courageous woman who is no alien to human emotions. She perfectly controls the grenade launcher and at the same time, is ready to sacrifice her life for the sake of the cat.

Swindlers and scammers

The trilogy about the criminal adventures of Danny Ocean and his friends has not only become a classic of its genre, but all of cinematography in general. It’s not surprising that Gary Ross decided to make a spin-off with the female cast, where the main role was played by Sandra Bullock. However, while male swindlers were engaged in robberies for understandable and clearly defined reasons, and the viewer was given enough information about the characters, the actions of the female characters from the spin-off (Ocean’s 8) were clearly lacking motivation, no matter how colorful and stunning they were.

The characters of the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels comedies also went through some transformations in the 2019 remake. Michael Caine’s character in the movie was a true embodiment of aristocracy, nobility, and good manners. In this sense, Anne Hathaway lacks subtlety and grace. At the same time, the characters of Steve Martin and Rebel Wilson are both simple and rude, while Penny turned out to be a bit more vulgar and cheeky.

Reserved geniuses

Of course, Sherlock Holmes’ and Beth Harmon’s areas of activity are totally different, but still, we can find many things in common in their types and behavior. Both the detective-consultant and the chess player are geniuses at what they are doing. They are isolated, reserved, and have difficulty expressing their feelings. Moreover, Holmes and Harmon have a rich imagination that helps them reach their goals.

Benedict Cumberbatch and rising star Anya Taylor-Joy have perfectly shown their characters onscreen. Regarding the characters: compared with Beth, Sherlock looks more infantile — like a person who is occasionally unable to cope with the simplest house chores, while Harmon, who grew up in an orphanage, learned to rely only on herself and withstand everything fate sent her way.


Perhaps the cinema world doesn’t know a brighter or more charismatic pirate than Jack Sparrow. The character of the cult franchise played by Johnny Depp made millions of viewers from around the world fall in love with him thanks to his wittiness, his ability to get into dangerous and comical situations, and his indomitable greed. By the way, Sparrow’s character and specifics were created by Johnny Depp himself who was inspired by the image of Keith Richards, the guitar player from The Rolling Stones.

At the same time, there are not as many female pirates who we have seen on the big screen. Still, we can compare Angelica, the daughter of Blackbeard, played by Penélope Cruz, with Jack who had some love interest toward her. Her entire life is a big play for her. Her character is somewhat similar to Jack Sparrow — she is sly, purposeful, has a good sense of humor, and masterfully lies for her own benefit. Still, she concedes to Johnny Depp and his character in charisma and charm.


The topic of revenge, that is better served when cold, will likely never lose its popularity in cinematography. John Wick, Kill Bill, Oldboy — it’s unlikely that there are people who have never heard about these thrillers that make our blood run cold. When speaking about avengers, we can’t forget about Gerard Butler in the movie Law Abiding Citizen. His Clyde Shelton is a purposeful and absolutely cold-blooded person. Most of all, he longs to avenge his family and prove the depravity of a rotten legal system, and nothing will stop him along the way. Butler’s character is extremely convincing and expressive — and we can even describe him as powerful. Despite his cruel actions, viewers are still left empathizing with him.

In the fresh thriller Promising Young Woman, it was Carey Mulligan who tried herself in the role of an avenger: her character Cassandra — a young woman stuck at a dead-end job. At night, she hunts for men who are greedy for defenseless girls. She teaches them a serious lesson. Cassie has a clear goal and motive because she takes revenge for the events of the past that destroyed her life. The character is not presented as an invulnerable superhero, she is less sophisticated than Clyde Shelton and her plans are not as intricate as his. Still, Mulligan’s keen play deserves various praise and most critics have outlined this fact too.

Which actors or actresses were more convincing in their roles?


Get notifications

I can't be the only one that didn't like Tom Cruise as an actor... right? 😁


I actually love Barney Stinson. He was very funny and awe.... wait for it... some (although he didn't say that).


Related Reads