BOOKS: MORE SEXY PAUL FREE­MAN

In her lat­est movie, Bat­tle Of The Sexes, Bri­tish ac­tress Andrea Rise­bor­ough plays Mar­i­lyn Bar­nett, the se­cret lover of ten­nis leg­end, Bil­lie Jean King. The film recre­ates a 1973 match be­tween misog­y­nist Bobby Riggs and King. It also de­picts Bil­lie Jean (

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I’d love to see more movies about

love, in­clud­ing sex, rather than ex­plo­sions and white, het­ero­sex­ual men in su­per­hero capes.

DNA: Did you know the story be­hind Bat­tle Of The Sexes be­fore mak­ing the movie?

Andrea: In my adult life I did, but not as a kid. I’m a fan of the creators [Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine and Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire] who are great artists.

There’s a scene be­tween Mar­i­lyn and Bil­lie Jean that must be one of the most erotic hair­cuts ever filmed!

It’s a very beau­ti­ful, sen­sual mo­ment full of love and con­nec­tion.

Does tak­ing a les­bian role come with added re­spon­si­bil­ity to get the por­trayal right?

There’s a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity when you’re try­ing to cap­ture a time that re­ally hap­pened. Play­ing Mar­i­lyn was won­der­ful be­cause she was the em­bod­i­ment of the joy of the time and the free­dom of spirit. I wanted her to be lib­er­ated and hope­ful at a time when a wo­man couldn’t even get her own bank ac­count, which was go­ing on in Amer­ica then. The film is about love, and the sex­u­al­ity of Bil­lie Jean and Mar­i­lyn is an im­por­tant part of it. So is [the is­sue of] equal pay and sex­ual equal­ity. I didn’t want to make a movie that’s sold as a ten­nis movie or as a com­edy. It is joy­ously funny and the cir­cum­stances were com­pletely ridicu­lous. There were times when it was like we were mak­ing two sep­a­rate films. Emma Stone and I would be in the trailer and have just gone through some­thing in­cred­i­bly emo­tional, then Steve Carrell would come in dressed as Bow Peep.

How was film­ing the love scene with Emma?

The in­ti­macy was one of the most re­ward­ing parts of mak­ing the film. It was easy and nat­u­ral. It felt ex­cit­ing. There’s a sad­ness about these two peo­ple who were des­per­ately in love with each other but couldn’t ex­press it pub­licly. Who the fuck has the right to say who can love who?

At the end of Bat­tle Of The Sexes we find out what hap­pened to the two main char­ac­ters, but not Mar­i­lyn. What did hap­pen to her?

She killed her­self a long time af­ter when the movie is set. In a dif­fer­ent life. She and Bil­lie Jean were to­gether for a long time. Their re­la­tion­ship was a happy one, by all ac­counts. It was glo­ri­ous to live it out.

What do you think about the dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship be­tween ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and Hol­ly­wood to­day?

It’s still in­cred­i­bly hard for gay ac­tors to come out. It can ruin ca­reers some­times, which is deeply de­press­ing and bor­ing. I’m sick of see­ing straight, white males play­ing gay men.

This movie pushes the en­ve­lope. Is that how you choose your projects?

I tend to re­spond to diver­sity. I find au­then­tic­ity in diver­sity. What I find least au­then­tic is watch­ing Sarah Jes­sica Parker buy­ing shoes in New York. It’s not some­thing I con­nect with al­though I have bought shoes in New York! I enjoy be­ing part of work that ex­plores an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of life rather than a nar­row rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a small per­cent­age of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

You starred in Madonna’s movie W.E., and were her date to the 2012 Golden Globes!

I’m so lucky! We had tuna sand­wiches at her house while we got ready, no joke. It was a lovely day and in­cred­i­bly girly with a glass of cham­pagne. Madonna also wrote the song Mas­ter­piece about you and it won a Golden Globe. Not ev­ery­one can say that.

True story! I don’t think it was en­tirely about me, to be fair, but it’s very sweet to be­lieve that. That whole time was won­der­ful. It was great that she was recog­nised for hav­ing so much en­ergy and pas­sion for that project.

What would you like to tell world about Bat­tle Of The Sexes?

I hope kids see it. It’s a film ev­ery­one can watch. I’d love to see us cel­e­brat­ing more movies about love, which in­cludes sex, rather than cel­e­brat­ing ex­plo­sions and white het­ero­sex­ual males in su­per­hero capes. It per­pet­u­ates a very neg­a­tive and ar­chaic view of the world, es­pe­cially for women. MORE: Bat­tle Of The Sexes is re­leased in cin­e­mas through Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox.

(TOP) ANDREA AND EMMA STONE IN A SCENE FROM BAT­TLE OF THE SEXES; AND ANDREA AS MAR­I­LYN BAR­NETT.

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