A light has been turned on: Angela Bassett on post #MeToo world


Paris: Women are at the centre of “real changes” in Hollywood after the #MeToo movement, says Angela Bassett, the actor who is all about challenging stereotypes with her roles as a formidable mother in “Black Panther” and now a no-nonsense CIA boss in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”.

It is time for women to break open the door and change things, says the actor, whose character Erica Sloane replaces Alec Baldwin’s Hunley in the action franchise, led by Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

Bassett believes a lot has changed post the #MeToo movement, which began with allegations of sexual harassment and rape against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and triggered a global movement.

“There is something gaining and something afoot. There is a light that has been turned on. An awareness has been sparked. Voices are speaking out.

“Once you unlock the door or the closets and we peak in and we see and (when) we don’t like what we see, we can break it open and make some real changes. So I think it’s a great thing that’s going on,” Bassett told PTI in an interview.

The actor, 59, believes when women play strong roles in films, it inspires people all over the world.

This is why she has followed her standout performance as Ramonda, queen of the fictional African nation Wakanda in “Black Panther”, with her “Fallout” role.

“It (‘Black Panther’) was, and still is (a cultural movement)… When women play incredible roles, it is a great inspiration all over the world, not just in America… I hope there is a sort of strength and inspiration that people are gaining from roles like these, the confidence to do any and all things,” she said.

The #MeToo movement eventually led to structural changes in Hollywood and the launch of the Time’s Up campaign.

Bassett is hopeful that change is here to stay. She believes the older generation has to hold fast to the hope for a better future.

“You know, hope is the expectation of something good. We have to never lose hope. Never let your spirit die because change may happen slowly, or it does happen slowly. We become aware and we become emboldened.

“At times, it happens not from the top but from the bottom. From those who have least to lose and most to gain, our young people. They are the most hopeful. So, I think it is common that we who have experienced it and seen how slow it takes, hold on to our hope and offer our help.”

The actor believes “Fallout” was a perfect follow-up to her “Black Panther” role. Having seen other films in the franchise, she knew it would be a fun ride.

Also, she loved the way her character is introduced in the film, striding down an airstrip with intent and purpose.

“It was one of the first scenes that I shot and I loved how it went. You get her determination and her drive. It was like she is going to get something done,” the actor said.

“It’s exciting, thrilling and fun. When I was asked to come aboard, I could hardly believe it. For a split second, I didn’t think that it was THE ‘Mission: Impossible’. I thought it was some other version of it. I am thrilled to be on this journey.”

The Paramount Pictures film has not one but three strong women characters and Bassett is particularly impressed by Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa, (an MI6 agent and Ethan Hunt’s friend) who she believes is as strong as Cruise’s Hunt or Henry Cavill’s August Walker.

“Women have great roles in this film. The character of Ilsa, I mean, she is as formidable as Hunt and Walker, my field agent that I sent in to keep an eye on Hunt. She is as formidable and physical as either of the two of them. She may even, perhaps, be a little bit better. Also, Erica Sloane is brilliant and she is a tactician. She is thinking steps ahead of these guys,” she said.

Also starring Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan and Vanessa Kirby, Viacom18 Motion Pictures will distribute the film in India.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the film is slated to be released in India on July 27.