[UPDATED] Felicia Day Will Play MST3K‘s Villain In the Reboot
It’d be hard to replace a mad scientist like Pearl, but given that the crowd-funded MST3k reboot will feature an all-new cast, Joel Hodgson decided he needed to find someone to play Dr. Forrester’s daughter. He knew right off the bat that he wanted to find another woman comedian for the task, as he explained in a Kickstarter update:
I knew that I wanted the next Mad to be someone who could be both comedic and threatening… and if possible, both at the same time!
I also knew, from the start, that the next Mad should be a woman.
Part of that inspiration came from seeing what Mary Jo Pehl did with the role of Pearl Forrester. As Pearl, Mary Jo – or MJ, as we called her – could be funny in so many different ways… but while she was a woman, the humor never came from Pearl being female — that just happened to be a great coincidence, and a tribute to how great MJ was in that part.
The logic seems a little shaky here, but I think I get the gist. The “mad scientist” role has historically been played by a woman, so it makes sense to keep that trend going in the reboot. As for why the new scientist needs to be Pearl’s daughter specifically, or why Hodgson says he decided to seek out a red-head in particular? Well, here’s his explanation:
The red hair came to me because I’ve always felt the Forrester clan were from Scandinavian backgrounds – mainly because MST3K has such deep roots in the Midwest, and especially Minnesota. (Plus, the Swedish usually aren’t portrayed as super villains, and I think it’s time we did something to fix that.)
I’m not sure why “red hair” came to mind for Hodgson, but I actually like his logic about how the Swedish don’t usually get potrayed as villains. At least this way, the villain isn’t a stereotype — especially since the mad scientist is usually played by a woman.
Anyway, after doing a deep dive on researching comical red-headed ladies, Hodgson discovered Felicia Day’s work and thought she’d ace the role. Let’s leave aside the obvious question — which is, “Does Joel Hodgson know about hair dye?” — and give the guy some props for his ability to see past the many meek roles that Day has taken on. You’d think maybe he would be looking for a “fiery red-head” stereotype — but by choosing Felicia Day, it seems like yet another decision to go against type.
I haven’t seen every performance that Felicia Day has ever done — there’s an impressive list of credits on her IMDB page, as I’m sure you all know — but she does tend to play shy, nerdy, passive characters. Of course, she also often plays comedic roles … but “mad scientist”? That feels like new territory for Day, and personally, I think it could be neat to see her interpretation.
The Kickstarter update doesn’t confirm that Felicia Day has officially signed on to take the role — but it sounds like it’s almost a done deal. If anything, the update seems very slightly premature, but I guess Hodgson was too excited to keep the news under wraps. And who could blame him!
I can’t help but feel excitement myself about the idea of Day playing this role, but I also keep remembering this quote from Lesley Kinzel’s piece from a couple years ago about how much MST3K, and Pearl, meant to her:
Pearl was important because she was funny without being self-deprecating — and self-deprecation is fine in moderation, but to see a hilarious woman in a role where she never doubted her ability to literally take over the world was wonderful (and I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that she was also individually important to me because Pearl was also fat, like me, and this was never ever used as a punchline — that was tremendous to witness).
Felicia Day is a much more conventionally attractive actress, and that does change the way that her character will be seen by audiences. So, what do we think? Do we feel excited to watch Felicia Day play a villain? Or do you wish some other actress had gotten tapped instead?
UPDATE: It’s official! Felicia Day has confirmed via her Twitter that she’ll be playing Dr. Forrester’s daughter in the MST3K reboot:
— Felicia Day (@feliciaday) November 23, 2015
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