Monday, July 10, 2017

Emma Stone Talks Battle of the Sexes

Out Magazine recently gathered stars of the upcoming movie Battle of the Sexes Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough, as well as the subject of the movie Billie Jean King, for an interview. Here are some highlights from their talk:

Billie Jean King: I thought it was very wise to choose Val and Jonathan to direct Battle of the Sexes, because this movie is for everyone. It isn’t just for women, and it isn’t just for men. It shows how vulnerable people are, and how life is messy and yet joyful. Simon [Beaufoy, the writer] is the one I spent the most time with, and then Emma and I met in January last year. We went out on the court a couple of days to play. Didn’t you say you gained 15 pounds and were working out like a fiend? 

Emma Stone: Yeah, it was like six days a week. I was really going for it. You know, I see old pictures of you, and you’re so muscular and sinewy, and I’m like, ugh. Your body was so iconic, and all I wanted was to just match that exactly. You know, my tennis double was such an imperative part of the movie—me being a novice, and Billie Jean being number 1 in the world [laughs]—so thankfully our bodies matched enough that I was like, OK, we’ve got a happy medium here—it’s about the essence of Billie Jean and her heart and her spirit.But god, what I wouldn’t give to have those same muscles. You have no idea. 

BJK: Really? I’m always trying to lose weight. 

Andrea Riseborough: Emma, we hadn’t seen each other for six months or longer, and when I came to the set, I was like, Emma has eaten another person. You were ripped. 

ES: Thanks, buddy. When I first met Billie Jean, the great thing was that she’s such a coach and she knows sports psychology, and she instantly reduced it to playing catch. So I got to feel like a golden retriever running after a ball, and just making sure the ball was in front of my face. What was incredible, and I guess it’s in every great coach or athlete, is that she found my strengths and she played to those. She found out instantly that I like to dance and I could move my feet, and that was our jumping-off point. 

...ES: It’s always going to be difficult to watch myself as you—I have a hundred ideas of things that I should have done differently—but I was so happy with the way it came together. There’s such a great message about not having to do everything right. You don’t have to know who you are completely in order to still effectively help change the world. I’ve always felt that if I get to a certain point I’m going to know all these things about myself, and then I’ll be able to speak, or be of service in some way. You know, I’m afraid in a way that I don’t know that Billie Jean naturally is. I’m afraid of my voice sometimes.

BJK: I’m afraid a lot. I’m scared, and I’ve felt lonely. When you’re a leader, it’s a very lonely place sometimes. Watching this movie was terrifying for me. This is a slice of 1973 and what was going on in my life and other people’s lives. I just really hope it touches the hearts and minds of people and gives them a glimpse of the early ’70s and the challenges, especially for the LGBTQ community. And with Margaret Court recently coming out [against lesbian players], this feels very timely. I just hope it helps somebody out there who is struggling. But most important to me, I hope this film will tell people to be their authentic selves—just find your journey,  find how to get there. It took me until I was 51, and I would love to be a lot younger and to have gotten where I needed to go. 

ES: The parallels in this movie are pretty fascinating. We began shooting in the spring of 2016, when there was still a lot of hope in the air, and it was very interesting to see this guy—this narcissistic, self-focused, constantly-stirring-the-pot kind of guy—against this incredible, qualified woman, and at the same time be playing Billie Jean, with Steve [Carell] playing Bobby Riggs. Obviously the way this has all panned out has been fascinating and horrifying, and it still feels like we’re in a bad dream, but those parallels make sense to me—the equal-pay issue makes a lot of sense to me. At our best right right now we’re making 80 cents to the dollar.

BJK: In Hollywood? 

ES: It’s a difficult system because it depends on the kinds of films you’re a part of, the size of your role, how much the movies make at the box office. And so much of that changes your pay throughout your career, so I go more to the blanket issue that women, in general, are making four fifths at best. 

BJK: White women. If you’re African American or Hispanic it goes down, and then Asian Americans make 90 cents to the dollar. 

AR: Hollywood works on quotes, so if somebody’s going to pay a huge actor $52 million to be in a movie or a franchise, he’s going to have a higher quote than anyone else. There are maybe one or two women that have a quote that’s as high as a guy’s, because most films are about white males.

ES: Very true. In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily—that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, “That’s what’s fair.” If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life. And this is Billie Jean’s feminism, and I love it—she is equality, man: equality, equality, equality. 

BJK: And inclusion. 

ES: It’s not about, “Women are this and men are that.” It is, “We are all the same, we are all equal, we all deserve the same respect and the same rights.” And that’s really what I’ve been so grateful for with male co-stars—when I’ve been in a similar-size role in films, and it’s been multiple people who have been really incredible and said, “That’s what I want to do. That’s what’s fair and what’s right.”

Read the full interview at Out Magazine.

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