Sucker Punch: Good Roles for Women

In “Sucker Punch,” Babydoll pulls each of the key characters into her multiple fantasy worlds, which meant that each of the actors would have to play multiple roles, first as their characters in the asylum and then as heightened versions of themselves in her mind, some good, some evil.

Emily Browning

Emily Browning took on the role of the young woman determined to be free at all costs. “The words ‘baby doll’ make you immediately think of something really fragile,” Browning says, “but she’s not at all. That’s what was so cool to me about this character—she’s actually pretty tough, with an unexpected stoicism.”

Delving inside Babydoll’s psyche led Browning to discover what might have influenced her and made her so resilient.

“I think the people in her fantasies represent her experiences, the oppression she has had to put up with throughout her life. She has this almost simplistic view of the good guys and the bad guys, the bad guys being men like her stepfather and, later, some of the monsters in her fantasies. And the Wise Man in her dreams represents the ideal father figure, strong but really caring and able to guide her and help her make the right choices.”

“Babydoll symbolizes that transition between thinking like a child and thinking like an adult, when your perception of the world changes,” Zack Snyder says. “She is a warrior, both delicate and strong at the same moment, and Emily really personified everything I had envisioned about Babydoll. She has this mystic, timeless, almost unquantifiable look and completely brought the character to life for me.”

Browning felt the full support of Snyder as she worked to embody a character so dear to him. “Zack obviously had a clear vision and knew exactly what he wanted, but at the same time he was really collaborative and was totally open to other ideas,” she notes. “He always wanted to make sure that I was happy with my performance.”

Rocket—Jena Malone

The first friend that Babydoll makes in her new surroundings is Rocket, a strong-willed if somewhat naive girl who, together with her older sister, Sweet Pea, have been at the asylum long enough to have learned the ropes.

Jena Malone plays the impetuous Rocket, whom she says “is sort of the archetype of the younger sibling—someone who is cared for and looked after, but doesn’t always appreciate it. I felt Rocket was very free in the way that she could see the world and not always be as affected by it, but feeling free in her world isn’t necessarily a positive thing. There’s a risk to having too much confidence, or a false sense of confidence, in her case.”

Sweet Pea—Abbie Cornish

Rocket’s false sense of security comes in part from having a big sister who has always watched over her. As Babydoll gets to know the girls, it becomes clear to her that not only does Sweet Pea serve as a protector for her little sister, but as a leader of the group. Sweet Pea views Babydoll’s arrival as a threat to her authority and her position as the favorite of those in control.

Abbie Cornish, who plays Sweet Pea, instantly connected with the character. “When I initially read the script, Sweet Pea spoke to me the most. She’s a mother figure who looks out for Rocket, her wilder and unpredictable baby sister. Sweet Pea has good instincts and she heeds them. She understands how discipline works in their world and what she has to do to get through her everyday life. I think she really believes that if they just put their heads down and work hard and do what they’re told to do, that one day they’ll walk out of there. The idea of trying to escape—the consequences of it—scares her more than it scares Rocket.”

Blondie—Vanessa Hudgens

One girl who definitely follows Sweet Pea’s lead is Blondie, whose nickname belies her appearance. The part is played by the raven-haired Vanessa Hudgens, who offers, “Blondie is very sweet, if a little bit scared, and that fear can get the best of her. She has her ‘blonde’ moments every now and then, but when she jumps into the action scenes, she’s a total badass.”

The experience was one she’ll not soon forget. “This project was unlike anything I’ve ever done, and working on it felt so empowering. It’s still rare for women in film to really kick butt, especially in a way that no one’s ever seen before, and the fact that Zack did this and I got to be a part of it makes him my hero,” she smiles.

Amber—Jamie Craig

Another character to find her courage on the battlefield is Amber, who earns her wings piloting the other girls to safety on more than one occasion.

Jamie Chung, who plays the role, states, “Amber is the kind of girl who wants to fit in, to be accepted, so she’s a people-pleaser and a little submissive. The idea of freedom, of actually escaping, riles her up and helps her find her courage. That newfound courage translates into Babydoll’s fantasy worlds where she’s the captain of her vessel. Whether it’s a helicopter, a Meka or a B-25, her job is to make sure the others can accomplish their goals on the ground and in the air, and be lifted to safety when they’re ready to get out of there. She has to do her job right, or everything will go wrong, and she cares too much about th

e others to fail them.”