×

‘Suffragette’ Star Carey Mulligan on Women in Hollywood: ‘There’s a Lot to be Optimistic About’

Focus Features hosted the New York premiere of “Suffragette” on Monday night at the Paris Theatre with stars Carey Mulligan and director Sarah Gavron. There was a collective sigh on the red carpet when a publicist announced Meryl Streep, who plays British suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, had cancelled her appearance due to a last-minute delay. As her daughters Mamie and Louisa Gummer whisked by the red carpet, one reporter barked at them: “Where is your mom?”

“Suffragette,” which had been in development since 2008, arrives at a time when two women are running for president and A-list actresses are fighting back against sexism in the industry. “It feels like a real tipping point, because people are talking about it,” Gavron said. “It’s in the news. For the first time I can remember, people are really concerned about the imbalance and they are addressing it.” When she was growing up, Gavron didn’t consider directing as a career. “There weren’t any role models,” she said. “I didn’t think it was a possibility.”

Mulligan, who plays the film’s lead character (a composite not based on a real person), agreed that she’d witnessed some shifts for women in the industry. “There’s a lot to be optimistic about,” Mulligan said. “There’s lot of films this year that have great roles for women. If you look at people like Jennifer Lawrence, who make billions at the box office, you kind of have to think a studio is going to sit up and take notice that women sell tickets. Essentially, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about money.”

But screenwriter Abi Morgan noted that the film, which had a budget of $10 million, would probably have received more financing if it was about a group of men. “I think we would have gotten $10 million more,” she said, explaining that she pitched “Suffragette” as an action film. “I wanted a kicka– movie. I would have liked a few more carriage changes, a couple more buildings blown up, a few more fires.”

Focus CEO Peter Schlessel introduced the movie. The after-party was held at Southgate. Mulligan will enter a crowded best-actress Oscars race with Saorise Ronan (“Brooklyn”), Cate Blanchett (“Truth” and “Carol”), Brie Larson (“Room”), Lily Tomlin (“Grandma”), Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”) and Blythe Danner (“I’ll See You in My Dreams”). And Streep, who is prominently featured on the film’s posters and advertising campaign, is only in “Sufragette” for a single scene, meaning this will be the rare year where the Oscars recidivist (with 19 nominations and counting) won’t be up for awards consideration.

“Suffragette” opens on Oct. 23.

(Pictured: Carey Mulligan and Sarah Gavron at the New York premiere of “Suffragette”)

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Keke Palmer BlogHer19 Summit

    Keke Palmer Brought to Tears Accepting Truth Teller Award at #BlogHer19 Creators Summit

    Keke Palmer stood surprised and wide-mouthed on the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit stage as she was presented with the Truth Teller Award for her recent acting work — and her viral “sorry to this man” clip. “This means so much,” the multi-hyphenated star softly whispered as she got teary-eyed upon accepting the award. Last week, the [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Green Dress

    Jennifer Lopez Closes Out Versace Show in Famous Green Grammys Dress

    Jennifer Lopez has found her way back into the Versace dress that broke the internet in 2000. The “Hustlers” star closed out Versace’s Spring 2020 show in a re-worked version of the revealing, bright green silk chiffon dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. The dress quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, [...]

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content