Tatiana Maslany In 'Star Wars' & Other Casting News Makes Room For Women In A Male-Dominated Genre

Science-fiction has long been a genre dominated by men, from movies to comic books to video games: male writers, male directors, male characters, male fans. But there's no reason it should be; the fact that 52 percent of gamers are women proves that spaceships and aliens and futuristic technology appeal to people of all genders. Shocking, I know. But why has it taken our culture so long to accept this fact? Thankfully, Hollywood seems to be taking steps to rectify that, with the news Tatiana Maslany could be in Star Wars: Episode VIII, and other hot sci-fi properties like Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One and the big screen adaptation of best-selling novel The Circle are courting female stars.

Of course, female characters have appeared in sci-fi films as long as the genre has existed — but usually as one-dimensional archetypes drawn from the male gaze. For every Princess Leia there's seemingly a dozen Padmés, created solely to look pretty and fall in love with the male lead while occasionally shooting a laser gun. Recently, Hollywood seems to be taking steps to amend this problem: both Marvel and D.C. are launching their first female superhero franchises (Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman); CBS is premiering Supergirl this fall; Mad Max: Fury Road featured one of the most compelling female leads in a big-budget sci-fi film in recent memory; and next year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be the franchise's first film to center around a female protagonist.

Now, a recent spate of casting news over the past couple of days has indicated that this trend is only just beginning. Meet the six women who could potentially become your next kickass sci-fi role model.

Tatiana Maslany

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As revealed by The Wrap this Tuesday, the House of Mouse has short-listed three actresses to join the franchise in a pivotal role in the sequel directed by Rian Johnson (Looper). For most sci-fi fans, the most exciting name on that shortlist will undoubtedly be Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany. Those paying close attention to Star Wars casting news remember that Maslany was previously on a shortlist alongside Felicity Jones and Rooney Mara to play the female lead in Rogue One — a role which ultimately went to Oscar nominee Jones (The Theory Of Everything). But someone at Disney must love Maslany's work, as she's once again in consideration to join their galaxy far, far away. Fingers crossed that it works out this time!

Gina Rodriguez

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On the shortlist for Episode VIII alongside Maslany is the Golden Globe-winning star of The CW's Jane The Virgin . Disney seems to be doing a great job lately of not only focusing on strong female characters, as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy promised earlier this year, but of casting actors of various nationalities in a franchise not exactly known for its diversity. Rodriguez would join a growing list of non-white Star Wars actors including John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Lupita Nyong'o.

Olivia Cooke

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The final actress in contention for Episode VIII drew notice this summer for her compelling performance as a cancer-stricken teen in Me And Earl And The Dying Girl . If Cooke misses out on Star Wars, she's got a chance to land another plumb role in a highly-anticipated sci-fi property: Ready Player One, adapted from the novel by Ernest Cline. Cooke is on a similar shortlist of three actresses to play that film's lead female role of Art3mis. It remains to be seen whether both Art3mis — who is a video game avatar — and the real-life girl controlling the avatar will be played by the same actress.

Elle Fanning

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Dakota Fanning's little sister has one connection that might help her land the part of Art3mis: she previously starred in J.J. Abrams' Super 8, a sci-fi adventure movie produced by Ready Player One's director, Steven Spielberg. Her flirtation with the sci-fi/fantasy genre continued in last year's Maleficent. Could her performance as an animated Disney princess come to life help her land the role of a badass digital warrior and her flesh-and-blood counterpart?

Lola Kirke

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This British-American actress is probably the least known of the three contenders for Art3mis — but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes helping to discover an unknown quantity can be just as exciting as casting an already-famous figure. Kirke isn't a total unknown, though: American audiences may have seen her briefly in the pilot episode of HBO's The Leftovers, or as con artist Greta in David Fincher's Gone Girl, or in her starring role in Amazon's Mozart In The Jungle.

Karen Gillan

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OK, so Gillan is probably already your kick-ass sci-fi role model. The Scottish actress starred as beloved character Amy Pond for three seasons on Doctor Who, the nerdiest of all nerd shows, and appeared as vengeful Nebula in last year's smash hit Guardians Of The Galaxy. Now Gillan has been cast in yet another high-profile sci-fi project: the near-future cautionary tale The Circle, about a Google- and/or Apple-esque company that slowly takes over the world and the lives of its employees. She's joining an already-impressive ensemble including Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and Star Wars' own John Boyega.

No matter which of these actresses end up landing their highly sought-after roles, there's no denying that any of them would be exciting additions to a genre that finally seems ready to accept that women exist — both onscreen and off — and are just as capable of piloting starships and battling digital armies as any of their male counterparts.