The makers of drug-war thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, revealed that they had been under pressure to rewrite the lead role, a female FBI agent played by Blunt, as a man.

Speaking to journalists at the Cannes film festival after the press screening of Sicario, which is competing for the Palme d’Or, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve confirmed that screenwriter Taylor Sheridan had been asked, before he came aboard the project, to change the gender of the lead role.

“The screenplay was written some years ago,” Villeneuve said, “and people were afraid that the lead part was a female character, and I know several times [Taylor Sheridan] had been asked to rewrite the role. When I got involved, the script was as it is, and I embraced it, as did [producers] Black Label and Thunder Road. But the pressure came before, and these guys had the guts to keep it as it was.”

The idea of having a woman lead an FBI team is too much of a fantasy for a fictional story, it seems.