20th Century Fox
Emma Stone has taken on a lot of roles in Hollywood, from a teenager on a mission to Ryan Gosling’s love interest (multiple times, lucky lucky lady) and even a tap dancer; she’s successfully brought some very memorable characters to life. Emma seems confident in her craft but with her latest role, she was a bit nervous at first to take on the project.
The reason is that, for the first time, Emma is taking on a real person, specifically tennis legend Billie Jean King. In her history, she won 129 titles and the infamous Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs. She didn’t stop there however, she’s also been an advocate in many ways and her story is an incredible one to tell.
When Emma was cast at Billie, she was nervous because she’d never taken on the role of a real person before, but she did a lot of research and into Billie’s life and even spent some time with her before the filming. That actually led to the thing that made Emma the most nervous – she didn’t want to get close with Billie and then ‘let her down’ with her portrayal.
‘It was really fascinating to watch footage of her in the time period and read articles from that time to see the way she was presenting herself then, knowing what she was going through and what she was telling me about now. It was a tricky balance because as much as I wanted to be best friends forever with her because she’s the warmest and kindest and funniest individual, I was like, if I get too close, I think I’m going to really be afraid. I was already so nervous about letting her down that I was like, I’ve got to watch it.‘
She also mentioned that playing Billie took a lot of ‘touchstones’ that she could relate to, and she found many of them. She also said that there were some stark differences too but that she found a way to balance what Billie was going through both internally (and more secretly – in some ways) and in the public.
She also watched some old footage of Billie in matches and interviews, got a dialect coach and went through an almost transition while taking on this role. It’s obvious, by reading her interview, that she took the approach to this role much differently than the ones before it. She wanted to do an accurate and respectful portrayal.
‘Oh god, yeah. I mean, everything as much as possible for months. I was watching her in my trailer. I had her tapes through my headphones playing in my head. I was reading and re-reading Pressure is a Privilege. I had a dialect coach to figure out things with.‘
She went on to laugh and call herself a ‘creep’ because of the way she sort of studied Billie when they first met, she says she still catches herself doing so now.
‘I was a real creep. I still am with her a little bit. If we do an interview or we’re sitting and talking, I find myself just like staring at her and watching how she’s moving all the time — which I don’t need to do anymore. But that’s how I relate to her. I’m like her creepy friend now.’
We wouldn’t mind Emma being our ‘creepy friend’, we’re sure Billie doesn’t either. Battle of the sexes hits theaters September 22nd.
‘…but I knew him’