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 (
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.