No, this is not like the news that DC Comics made the decision to have Robin come out as bisexual. Rather, this is the story of a male character being changed to a female character because an excellent actress was the perfect choice for the role.
Originally, in Loaded Deck's screenplay, there was a male character code-named Joker. He was an aloof mercenary whom the movie's director, Jared Vineyard, knew he needed to find the right actor to play. However, no matter who Jared imagined playing the role, none of them seemed right. Then he met Elaine Mani Lee.
"It came about in the most serendipitous way," Elaine said. "Well, social media, but the timing of it, both Jared and I being open to new ideas... something just clicked!"
It clicked for Jared when Elaine sent him her reel. Upon watching, he immediately imagined her as Joker, and the character took on whole new dimensions in his head, and not just the kind of dimensions that would affect how a seamstress would measure for the character's costume. The more he thought about, the more Elaine just seemed right for the part, even though it had originally been written for a man.
Jared sent the script to Elaine and told her about his idea of changing Joker to a female character for her to play. The question was would she connect with the script and the character. He found it a little nerve wracking, as Jared now really had trouble imagining anyone else in the role.
"Elaine emailed me back the day after I sent the script," Jared said, "and told me her schedule wouldn't allow her to read it just yet, but she'd get to it at soon as she could. Then two days later Elaine emailed me to tell me the script was great, she loved the characters, and she was onboard."
"Jared emailed the script to me, and it was just great," Elaine said. "I mean, sometimes you get a script and you start reading it, you walk away from it, it takes some time to finish, you know? But not this one…it was so well written and funny, and all the characters were great. I could visualize all the action, you know?"
Jared and Elaine began discussing the character and quickly found they were on the same page.
Elaine said, "I am so, so excited to play the role of Joker in Loaded Deck! We both saw the core of the character the same way, and really, I just can’t wait to bring Joker to life and have some good fun!"
"She's going to be great in the Joker role," Jared said of Elaine. "I think audiences will really like what she brings. I told Elaine, from watching her reel, I thought she had the range to play a comedic, straight, dramatic, or sarcastic character. A touch of all of those traits go into the Joker character. I can't imagine anyone – man or woman – I would rather see play the role."
"I am so grateful that Jared saw something in my reel that led him to find a place for me in his film!" Elaine said. "And even to change the gender of a character! That felt pretty amazing, and made me want to work with Jared, someone with his sensibilities, even more."