You’re keen to make Creed II accurately reflect its audience from a gender and ethnic perspective. Is that something that’s important in all of your work?
Yeah. The other thing is – beyond a political agenda – I want to do things that are interesting to me. I want to make movies that I want to watch. If I were to be locked into a space that is known and defined by racial or gender parameters, I wouldn’t be able to do interesting work. So I’m really happy to get to live and work in a time where people are interested in having a more expansive idea of representation. In the last couple of years, I felt really lucky to get to work on such different kinds of content; that I can make a really small drama like in Little Woods with Lily James, or with a first-time filmmaker that can make a film like Sorry To Bother You, or that a studio film like Creed II, or that I can be working on a franchise like Men In Black. It’s not lost on me that that sort of content diversity is something that is really, really new for a person like me, and that is something that is still not afforded enough to women like me.
You’ve moved into producing with a story about real-world jewel thief Doris Payne. Is it also important to take what you’ve learnt and create new opportunities for other people?
I think so. It’s also that you work in this business so long as an actor, it’s sometimes very easy to feel like a cog. So a part of it, when we talk about agency, is to take it. The Doris Payne [film] is a story that I’ve been chasing for a long time. I can’t wait to play her. And I love the idea of producing and creating opportunities, and maybe one day directing.
Are you watching every director that you’re working with, and taking bits of what they do?
Yeah. I started years ago. I was working on this BBC America show called Copper, and in the second season I got to shadow on that. And now, having friends like Victoria Mahoney, who is the second unit director on Star Wars: Episode IX, and talking to her about her experiences… I also had a chance to sit and hang out with Greta Gerwig a couple of times, asking tonnes of questions. It’s the starting that is the hardest bit. I think it’s probably going to demand I take a little bit of time off from being in front of the camera, and getting behind it.
Tessa Thompson is ready for everything…