Emma Stone: ‘Playing Billie Jean King was a bit of a game changer’

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

I can’t even tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing Battle of the Sexes. Emma Stone stars as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell stars as Bobby Riggs, and it’s the true story of how the 1973 “battle of the sexes” tennis match happened. Emma’s casting was approved by Billie Jean, and Billie Jean apparently loves and adores Emma’s portrayal. It truly feels like the Academy should have waited to give Emma the Oscar for this one. Anyway, Emma covers the September issue of Marie Claire to promote the film. I don’t know about that hat, Em. You can read MC’s cover package here. Some highlights:

On what portraying Billie Jean King taught her: “I would say playing Billie Jean was a bit of a game changer. I am very nervous to communicate my opinions a lot of the time, especially publicly… She [Billie] is so direct and confident in the way that she communicates what she believes is right. To be able to step into that was a pretty powerful experience. It’s something that I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with, but it was also one of the great parts about playing her.”

On what was different about her role in Battle of the Sexes: “I have never really considered the physicality of a person or of a character. Maybe because I hadn’t played a real person – there wasn’t someone who looked a specific way or whose hands moved in a certain way. So that was what I focused on more than anything: building from the outside in.”

On speaking out for equality: “There is so much power to our voices, and we need to speak out. That’s something that I struggled with in the past, but it’s very hard not to feel galvanized right now, politically or consciously.”

On what gives her hope during these uncertain political times: “Nobody is going down without a fight – for love and humanity and equality and coming together. It’s so inspiring to see marches and beautiful writing and creative work. There’s so much power and a grace coming out of so many people who have so much to lose, and the human spirit is incredible. That’s worth a fight every day. And I want to learn how to fight better.”

[From Marie Claire]

Emma bulked up significantly to play Billie Jean, and I like that she talks about that as a way to build the character. No one would have bought Emma-as-Billie if Emma looked like she did in Birdman. Plus, Billie was – at that time – the #1 women’s player in the world. She was ripped. She was the highest caliber female athlete in the world (arguably). Emma needed to get it right, and I feel like she probably did get it right. Fingers crossed. As for the stuff about politics and find her voice… I’m sort of fine with it if Emma doesn’t want to become a Political Celebrity. She’s never been one of those “look at me, I’m talking about politics” celebrities, so why start now? Is it because she’s an Oscar winner and she feels like people expect her to pontificate?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Photos courtesy of Greg Kadel for Marie Claire.

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26 Responses to “Emma Stone: ‘Playing Billie Jean King was a bit of a game changer’”

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  1. Nicole says:

    She’s never been super political but when she was with Andrew they often promoted charities on their pap walks and such.
    Anyways I’m excited for this movie and yea I wish she had not won last year (LLL was painfully mediocre). This movie has been on my radar since the first photos dropped

  2. boredblond says:

    What a coincidence..just read on msnbc crawl that she’s now the highest paid actress as I was clicking on the story..just musing…

  3. QueenB says:

    Doesnt it go together with what she first said here? If she was nervous about communicating her opinions its obvious she wouldnt talk about politics.

    There is certainly more pressure on celebs to speak out and even more shameless self promotion in terms of using social justice to make some cash. Its a fine line but for someone who is genuine it shouldnt be too hard.

    • detritus says:

      I think so too.
      The Billie Jean role itself, meeting her like she mentions, that had to have sparked more discussion and thought on political topics.

  4. Deee says:

    Celebrities are entitled to opinions about politics. Trump is their president too.

    Celebs should also stop being afraid to speak their mind for fear of alienating their fanbase. Especially the Taylor Swifts of the world. Who knows how many ppl she could influence by denouncing him. Worth a shot!

  5. Deee says:

    Also; i love tennis. But this trailer left me cold. I don’t particulsrly mind Emma but i don’t find her a v strong actress especially in dramas. I this movie could come off a little cheesy. The little woman beating the man, isn’t she sassy kinda thing.

    Guess we will see.

  6. Lizzie says:

    these photos are gorgeous.

  7. Mei says:

    That hat on the cover looks so bad I wouldn’t be surprised it it was a post-production additon, lmao. I’m looking forward to this film though. She’s a great actress, she’s nearly one of those people in the ‘I’ll watch them in pretty much any role’ category for me!
    Also, apparently her and AG are back together (!!), she’s been seen at and backstage of his 7hr play a few times and they’ve been photographed holding hands. I heard it on bbc R1 this morning but the photos are probably from the DM and I’m not going to give them the time of day let alone a page view. But if this is true it is making me so happy, I love them together and I’m not quite sure why. The sum of their parts > each of them individually for some reason, I think they balance each other out really well.

  8. Sara says:

    Ugh I would like to see this movie but I’m boycotting Woody Allen collaborators (I know it doens’t make a difference but you know, doing what little I can).

  9. Naddie says:

    She looks gorgeous as always, but couldn’t they make her look a bit less than Margot Robbie? Or maybe they look alike and I’m just seeing it now.
    I can’t wait to see her in this role. I believe in her as an actress, so I wanna see if she can get rid of her eternal “perky, somewhat manic”‘ tone.

  10. Barbcat says:

    I love when actors don’t talk politics. I could care less what they think!

  11. marc kile says:

    the hat she wears in the first pic kinda ruins the shot.just my humble opinion.

  12. Miss S says:

    I wish they used the 2nd b&w photo on the cover.

  13. cecila c says:

    I think Emma is great: talented, beautiful and seemingly good fun. But I wish her interviews weren’t so bland…

  14. perplexed says:

    I don’t think she was saying she was opposed to speaking publicly about politics. It just sounds like she struggles with a lot of female 20 somethings struggle with — being direct and assertive. Sounded like a thing a lot of women talk about generally. She’s still pretty young — it kind of makes sense she’d be a little nervous. And usually, if you have some degree of emotional intelligence, you want to be informed so that your argument stands. No one wants to be like Jenny McCarthy. Or, heck, even Susan Sarandon, who I used to think was smart, but now I’m not so sure.

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      She’s 28 years old though, not 18. Majority of women of by college age (19-24) have experienced enough in life to have positions on either race, class, gender, the environment, liberal vs. conservative side etc. Many much younger female celebrities covered on this site all the time talk about these issues in an intelligent matter.

      I highly doubt that a 28 year old independent woman with a career is that oblivious to the ills of the world. Either that or she lives in a bubble of privilege. IMO, I just think Emma Stone wants to be the “likeable celebrity” who doesn’t make waves. If so she should just be honest about it instead of the “gosh I don’t know about all that stuff, it hurts my brain to think”.

      • perplexed says:

        All I got from her statement is that she’s not as direct as Billie Jean King was, not that she’s incapable of or refuses to talk about politics. I’m surprised that anything other than that could be surmised from her statement.

        I figured a lot of women in Hollywood struggle with what she does, because whenever they’re stuck at a Hollywood Roundtable with George Clooney or Ben Affleck, the men are the ones talking as if they’re in love with their own voices while the women seem more cautious about what to say. From observing that what I’ve gleaned is that they’re more afraid of seeming rude by “taking up space”, not that they don’t have opinions or are unwilling to share them. That was the angle from how I perceived her statement.

  15. mm says:

    Wow battle of the sexes looked bonkers to me. What do you guys do, just watch one popular movie and like it and assume it’s the best?