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Although “The Favourite” was in the works long before the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, a film featuring three female leads feels especially timely.

In the film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and set in 18th-century England, Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne whose cousins Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone fight for her attention and affection. The movie’s male actors and director told Variety how much they enjoyed working on a female-driven film during the opening night of the 56th Annual New York Film Festival Friday in New York City, where Stone and Colman also hit the red carpet.

Lanthimos said he was initially attracted to the project because of the female led storyline. “From the beginning, I was interested in making this film because of the main characters, the three women, at the center of this story, so I knew that it was going to be a great opportunity for me to work with amazing actors and it turned out to be so and I very much enjoyed the experience,” he told Variety on Friday at the opening night screening of the movie at the New York Film Festival.

“It’s obviously very timely to have three female leads, and it’s wonderful to see because it’s so rare,” co-star Nicholas Hoult said. “The dynamic between the characters they play is so wonderful because it’s so intricate and difficult to understand exactly who’s wanting what from this love-power struggle, and it’s just wonderful to watch and see.”

Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Colman, Yorgos Lanthimos (Director), Emma Stone and Joe Alwyn NYFF56 Opening Night Gala Presentation and New York Premiere of Fox Searchlights 'The Favourite', New York, USA - 28 Sep 2018

“The Favourite” explores the power and politics behind sex, and while it’s set in another century, Lanthimos hopes it makes audiences consider how little has changed. “I think it asks a lot of questions around it and it shows certainly how things haven’t changed for hundreds of years so I hope that that triggers people to think about that,” he said.

Co-star Joe Alwyn added, “It’s unusual, I suppose, to have a film led by three women, and these three women are so unbelievably talented and generous as performers and also as people, and to spend time with them and be on set with them and everyone else was just a lot of fun.”

“I was just happy to be a part of it at all. It’s rare to get a film like this to come along that is so different from what we’re used to seeing, especially with a director like this, so to be any part in it was brilliant.”

Hoult believes #MeToo and Time’s Up are having a significant impact in Hollywood. “I think it’s changing in the sense that, you see Frances McDormand’s speech, you see inclusion riders, you see everyone developing,” he said. “It always takes time for these things, and this movie was in the works for a long time before that movement but obviously it’s timely because of it. Changes are coming and obviously it takes time but it’s positive.”

Among the guests at the screening and after party at Tavern on the Green were Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence.