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Casting gender-bender

Why shouldn't male roles be rewritten for femme stars?

Hollywood may be running low on good roles for women, but that hasn’t stopped female thesps from landing a few good parts anyway.

Helen Mirren is the latest leading lady to have a role intended for a man be rewritten for a woman. She recently inked a deal to play the butler opposite Russell Brand’s troubled millionaire in Warner Bros.’ remake of “Arthur.” This is no thankless sidekick role — John Gielgud’s performance in the 1981 comedy earned him an supporting Oscar.

Universal is toying with the idea of taking its Jason Bourne franchise in a new direction. Who says Zoe Saldana couldn’t relaunch the action-loaded series as, say, Jessica Bourne?

Though Alexander Dumas envisioned his Three Musketeers as young men, why not retool with Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus and Dakota Fanning as the trio taking on the evil Cardinal Richelieu? (Warner Bros. and Summit might want to consider as a way to differentiate their competing projects).

And while Columbia waits for Will Smith to decide if he’s making a new “Men in Black,” the studio could summon a quick rewrite for a female agent Jay as a back-up plan. Sandra Bullock would pack them in, and she’s probably available … thanks to the dearth of worthy roles for women.

For Mirren, it was the second time in as many years that the actress signed up for man’s work. She also took on the role of Prospero (er Prospera) for Julie Taymor’s bigscreen adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

Similarly, fellow Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie did some gender bending by nabbing the lead in Columbia Pictures’ spy actioner “Salt” (Tom Cruise was originally poised to topline).

Can other actresses leverage their clout to demand a sex change for Hollywood’s plum roles?

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