Director and costar Elizabeth Banks on the film’s mid-credits scene and positioning girl power at the heart of “Charlie’s Angels.”
In assembling the star-studded cast of trainers and fellow recruits for the playful end credits sequence in Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, writer-director Elizabeth Banks sought women at the top of their game.
“I wanted really exceptional women in their fields,” she said before the film’s Nov. 15 theatrical release. “That was first. I also wanted to remind people that women can be exceptional in fields that are typically the purview of men. That’s sort of the DNA of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ in general.”
Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels” stars Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott as new Angels in a decidedly feminist take on the franchise. Banks herself plays Bosley, a former Angel turned liaison to Charlie, whose Townsend Agency has expanded to become a global enterprise.
The film’s mid-credits scene features cameos from Olympians Aly Raisman and Chloe Kim, race car driver Danica Patrick, former mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey and actresses Laverne Cox, Hailee Steinfeld and Lili Reinhart. Michael Strahan also briefly appears in the film as a Bosley, and one of the originalAngels, from the ‘70s ABC series that started it all, makes a cameo in a surprising role (which we won’t spoil here).
“We wanted to tell the story of what the Charles Townsend Agency would look like now,” said producer Elizabeth Cantillon. “Who would they bring in to train the Angels that are the best in their class? So that’s how we ended up with Ronda Rousey and Danica Patrick.”
“Ronda and Danica are very revolutionary in their fields and are very representational of the spirit of ‘Charlie’s Angels,’” Banks added.
Raisman, Kim, Steinfeld (“Dickinson,” “Bumblebee”) and Reinhart (“Riverdale,” “Hustlers”) all play Angel recruits who are tested alongside Scott’s character Elena. “Aly of course represents not just an excellent athlete but also an advocate,” Cantillon said. “And Chloe is just a genius snowboarder, so we were super excited about her. Liz [Banks] knew Hailee from ‘Pitch Perfect 2,’ and Lili raised her hand. And we were like, ‘That’s amazing! We love her too!’ So that was just fortuitous.”
“Hailee and Lili, to me, they’re two chameleons,” Banks added. “I felt like that was also something important to ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ Like, we are everywhere. We might even be in a television show or creating your favorite music.”
Emmy-nominated “Orange Is the New Black” star Cox, a friend of Banks’, was tapped to play a detonation expert. And “Good Morning America” co-host Strahan was an ideal Bosley, Banks says, because he already wears so many hats.
“I wanted to plant the seed early on in the movie that the universe of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ is bigger than the story of these women that you’re watching,” Banks said. “It’s a reminder that this is an organization that has access and infrastructure worldwide that touches people everywhere, so we said, ‘Let Michael Strahan be Michael Strahan.’ We didn’t pretend he wasn’t the host of ‘Good Morning America'; we’re just adding this job to the long list of jobs that Michael Strahan already does in life.”
As for cameos from the original big-screen Angels — Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu — Banks says she’d considered including them but that talks ultimately didn’t pan out. “I’m not going to say what the reason is,” she said. “I considered everything, and I think I ended up exactly in the right places.”
“We had conversations, not with the girls directly, but with the reps,” Cantillon said. “Just giving them a cameo in the end didn’t seem like enough for them. We didn’t have a lot of time to do anything more elaborate, but I hope if we ever got to make another one we could build them into it.”
Despite the stars’ absence in the film, Banks does consider her movie to be in the same canon as McG’s 2000 and 2003 franchise entries.
“I felt like we owed a debt to all of the entire canon,” she said. “I like to say that this movie streamlines the timeline of ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ We are embracing everything that came before. I’m proud of the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ legacy, and my Angels are standing on the shoulders of the Angels that came before them. I know Drew Barrymore [who produced the 2000 and 2003 films] believed the same when she made her movies. Now my hope is that we inspire another filmmaker and another set of Angels in another 10 years.”
Banks says that her iteration of “Charlie’s Angels” was inspired more directly by the ‘70s series than the early aughts films. Growing up, she and her two sisters considered the Angels to be “wish fulfillment,” she says.
“I wanted to make a movie about women at work,” she said. “That’s one of the things I loved about watching the original show, that those were professional women. The original show was very revolutionary because it’s about women in the ‘70s doing detective work, which was typically done by men. ... This [movie] is a portrayal of women who are really good at what they do, love doing it, and when they do it together are even stronger.”
“The messaging for women and girls [in this movie] is not so dissimilar to the messaging of the TV show,” Cantillon said. “Which is: Women can do anything if they’re given the opportunity, and they’re stronger when they work together.”
But the message of women’s empowerment and feminism rings differently in the wake of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.
“This story is about a whistleblower who is not supported and believed in her job,” Banks said. “And to me, this is partly a story about a woman who turns to a group of women who say, ‘We believe you and support you and we’ll help you.’ And I think that’s really powerful. And there are really great men helping as well.”
“I think there’s a little bit of a stigma to being a feminist,” Cantillon added. “There is a historical association with that that young women don’t identify with. But, in fact, there’s women cops and astronauts and all of that because of feminism. I think that female empowerment looks like women not being held back, and I think that’s what ‘Charlie’s Angels’’ messaging is. Every girl has the potential to be a great woman if you give them the runway for that. They could be Chloe Kim or Danica Patrick or Elizabeth Banks! They could be anything.”