When Ruth Bradley turned over the first page of the script for Electric Dreams episode Human Is, she had no idea her character had been written as a man.
“Yaro was the name, but I had no idea if it was a man’s name or a woman’s name,” the actress tells RadioTimes.com.
Then, as she was reading the script, she noticed something about her stage directions: “It said ‘he, he, he, he, he closes the door, he enters the room’.”
Yaro is loosely based on Philip K Dick’s character Frank in the original short story, and serves as friend and confidante to main character Vera (Essie Davis), helping her deal with emotionally abusive husband Silas (Bryan Cranston).
Yaro was originally written as a male, but Bradley says it didn’t matter.
“In any good piece of writing, it should be easy enough to switch genders,” she says.
“It really quickly became apparent that it doesn’t matter what gender this character is. No dialogue was changed; nothing at all was changed apart from the stage directions, so he became a she. That was really interesting for me. And really nice!”
The script is the work of Stranger Things writer and TV producer Jessica Mecklenburg, and was directed by Francesca Gregorini.
“I think so often women play supporting roles or girlfriends or wives – they’re there to support a man’s journey,” Bradley adds.
“I read something really interesting the other day: Jessica Chastain said something like, people always comment on the fact that I play strong women, whereas you never see anybody commenting on the fact that any man has played a strong man. He’s just a man. And I think – all the women I know are strong women. Women are strong, why should that be part of it?
“So I think if you can swap the gender, then in an ideal world that would be pretty easy to do in all scripts. I don’t know any woman who’s one dimensional, not a single one. And Yaro certainly wasn’t, be she a man or be she a woman.”
Electric Dreams returns to Channel 4 in 2018