You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Playback: Emma Stone on ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the Oscars and 10 Years of ‘Superbad’

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

Emma Stone made her first trip to the Telluride Film Festival last year in support of Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” which helped put her on a trajectory that ended with a best actress Oscar in her hands on Hollywood’s big night. She returned to the Colorado ski village last weekend with “Battle of the Sexes,” Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ new film centered on the 1973 tennis showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

Stone arguably tops her Oscar-winning turn with a performance that allows her to play even more notes. She is tasked with portraying a strong-willed feminist sports icon internally coming to grips with her homosexuality in a blinding public light. It’s an even taller order with King around to have a take on Stone’s depiction.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

“I had never played a real person before so to be playing someone like Billie Jean, who is around and very much alive and still an icon, it was a lot,” Stone says. “I realized as much as I want to be best friends with this woman, it would be a disservice to me and to her, ultimately, because I can’t sit in the position of wanting to please her on a daily basis. And I was actually pretty distant from [who she is] now throughout the process, in terms of articles and things that she’s done now. It helped me to not have the 40-plus years of perspective that she has now and just dig in to who she was at age 29.”

Critics have pointed out that the film plays as a sort of fantasy of last year’s election, with an iron lady trouncing a chauvinist showman. As well, there’s commentary to be made of King and Riggs’ battle of the sexes reflected in today’s gender equality zeitgeist.

“We shot the movie at the beginning of 2016, so we saw Hillary and Trump,” Stone says. “But it’s so nice to watch a movie or to read a [script] that tells a true story of a very strong and capable woman justifiably and rightly winning a match against a man who is a bit buffoonish and a little cartoonish. I don’t know what parallels people will pick up to all of that but it definitely does feel good.”

The actress is just six months removed from her Oscar win, which came on a night that ended in chaos as “La La Land” was accidentally named best picture of the year in front of 30 million people. “Moonlight” was the actual winner, and the very live course-correction instantly became an Oscar moment that will live in infamy.

“I think as much as the team on our film would have loved and celebrated winning that, ‘Moonlight’ was such an incredible and beautiful and vivid film,” Stone says. “The thing at the end of the day is I wish they would have gotten the opportunity to just go up right away and have their moment. But I think we were all really excited for that film.”

For more, including working with auteur Yorgos Lanthimos and 10 years of her breakthrough film “Superbad,” listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link above.

Subscribe to “Playback” at iTunes.

More Film

  • WGA West Logo

    WGA Plans March 25 Member Vote on Talent Agency Rules

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America plan a March 25 vote for members to decide whether to implement tough new restrictions on how Hollywood talent agencies as operate as agents for writer clients. The vote comes as the guild is in the midst of pitched negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents to renew [...]

  • Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'Wandering

    Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'Wandering Earth'

    Global streaming giant, Netflix has bought rights to “The Wandering Earth,“ the smash hit film which is pitched as China’s first mainstream sci-fi movie. The film was the sleeper hit of Chinese New Year — it opened in fourth position on Feb. 5 — but climbed to the top spot and has not yet relinquished [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan's Hitman Drama 'Silver Bear' Gets Director

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan’s “The Silver Bear” finds a director, biopic “Running for My Life” is in the works, Fox is using new trailer compliance software and the 14-hour “La Flor” gets distribution. DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT Gerard McMurray, director of “The First Purge,” will write and direct Michael B. Jordan’s thriller “The [...]

  • Kevin Costner Diane Lane

    Kevin Costner, Diane Lane to Reunite in Suspense Thriller 'Let Him Go'

    Focus Features has tapped Kevin Costner and Diane Lane to star as a husband and wife in the suspense thriller “Let Him Go.” The two also collaborated on “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”) is set to direct his own screenplay, based on Larry Watson’s novel [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth Hulk Hogan

    Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic for Netflix

    Netflix is in the early stages of developing a Hulk Hogan biopic with Chris Hemsworth attached to star as the wrestling legend and produce. Netflix has obtained the exclusive life rights and consulting services from Terry Gene Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan. Todd Phillips, whose credits include “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” trilogy, is attached to [...]

  • Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant

    Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant Winners

    Swedish documentary filmmaker Anastasia Kirillova and “Negative Space” co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are among the filmmakers who will receive grants from Rooftop Films to help complete their upcoming projects. Kirilova will be awarded $20,000 to finish her film, “In the Shadows of Love,” while collaborators Kuwahata and Porter will receive $10,000 for “Dandelion [...]

  • Jim Gianopulos

    Paramount Chief Jim Gianopulos Unveils Diversity Initiative

    Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has announced that all studio productions will be required to complete a plan to enhance diversity. Wednesday’s reveal follows Paramount’s commitment to participating in Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge. The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content