BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Hollywood tends to lean toward males in the primary role when it comes to making a heist film. It has happened from “Ocean’s Eleven” to “The Thomas Crown Affair.” The rare time a female is in charge of the ragtag group of thieves is in a film with an all-female cast such as “Ocean’s Eight.”

Director Anthony Nardolillo went against the norm with the new Lionsgate’s film “Righteous Thieves” scheduled to be available through digital platforms such as On Demand starting March 10. Lisa Vidal (“Being Mary Jane”) plays the leader of a secret organization hired to recover four priceless paintings by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh stolen by the Nazis during World War II. They are now in the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch Otto Huizen (Brian Cousins).

Vidal was excited about the opportunity to take on the role that goes against conventional thinking.

“My girlfriend, Jolene Rodriguez, produced the film. She called me and said that she and the director said ‘Why are we making the character a man? Let’s make her a woman.’ Then she said we want you to play the role,” Vidal says.

As soon as Vidal read the script by Michael Corcoran, she was immediately on board with playing the role. The gender switch wasn’t the only reason the role resonated with her. Vidal loved the idea of a group of people trying to correct a wrong committed almost eight decades ago.

She was excited as to how her character of Annabel must deal with all of the dangers of the planned heist. As the day the plan is to take place nears, loyalties are tested when the crew learns the real reason behind Annabel’s search for the long-lost paintings.

Another driving factor in Vidal wanting to play the role was that it isn’t just an action movie. There are some very heavy emotional moments especially for Vidal’s character to face.

“I love playing characters that are strong but who are also vulnerable and not afraid to be human,” Vidal says. “I think that I was very happy that Jolene and Tony allowed me to make Annabel that way.

“I got to give her those real, raw emotions so that she didn’t seem like a caricature or a stiff mannequin. She has real feelings and you get to see why she is so determined to right this wrong and to be successful.”

This film is the latest in Vidal’s career where she has played complicated characters. In the 40-plus years she has been acting, Vidal has appeared in the Lifetime crime drama series “The Division” and the BET drama series “Being Mary Jane.” Other credits include “The Event,” “ER,” “Third Watch,” “High Incident,” “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” and “Dark Mirror.”

Having Vidal play the head of a secret group committing a heist isn’t a big stretch for Vidal.  A recurring theme in the roles that has played is taking on authority figure characters.

She laughs and says the casting trend has a lot to do with her own personality.

“I am the oldest of four and a little bossy and opinionated,” Vidal says. “And, I am a Puerto Rican New Yorker. I am from Spanish Harlem, the Bronx, so I had to grow up quickly.

“There is a certain something that when you are from New York it is something about your character.”

Vidal adds that she is very driven to go after characters who are in charge. Her favorite type of character to play is one who is intelligent, there is a vulnerability and a femininity but there is a strength behind it.

Television gives her more opportunities to play various aspects to her character. At the same time she loves how a movie allows her to tell a story in a short amount of time.

The one area Vidal didn’t have to research for “Righteous Thieves” is the world of art. The longtime fan of Van Gogh spent many days in museums when she was living in New York City.

“I always felt like I was experiencing a bit of history when I would go,” Vidal says. “It was taking into this world that otherwise I would never know.

“Art is very special to me. And realizing how much was taken from the Jews during the Holocaust and what such a horrible thing that was done made this a very important story to be told.”

“Righteous Thieves” also stars Cam Gigandet(“The OC”), Jania Lee Ortiz(“Station 19), Carlos Miranda (“The Bling Ring”), Benjamin Schnau (“The Current War”), Danube Hermosillo (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) and Sasha Merci (“De Lo Mio”).