The film Battle of the Sexes is based on the real tennis match watched by 90 million people in 1973, when Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs.
Elizabeth Shue, who plays Riggs' wife in the movie, was 9 years old.
"I grew up in a family of three boys, I was the only girl, so my whole life was playing sports against guys and demanding respect in my family,” she said. “When she won, it was a huge deal. Huge."
Academy Award winner Emma Stone plays King in the film, mastering everything from her tennis swing and wide smile to the subtle slump of her shoulders. She spent months preparing for the transformation.
“Just a lot of research and watching footage of her, reading interviews with her, and then recreating the physicality like a weirdo in my house or walking down the street or in my trailer,” Stone said, laughing.
Sarah Silverman had more of a challenge portraying tennis promoter Gladys Heldman. There weren't any old films to study, so she got into character by getting dressed.
“Most of it was the outfit, the clothes and the jewelry, and the hair, and the cigarette,” she said, posing like Heldman. “Then I just had to say the words because it was all there (in the script.)”
Some of the most memorable words are delivered by Steve Carell, who plays a rather likeable version of Riggs. The former tennis champion was also a hustler skilled in publicity stunts, whether he was using a giant racket or his own naked body. Carell recreated the nude photo shoot for the film.
"We should spend the whole interview talking about it because it's something I love to discuss,” he said. “Horrible… (but) he did that. Bobby Riggs, he would do basically anything to promote himself and to promote this tennis match."
His public defeat was a victory for women's sports, giving Billie Jean King a powerful voice - and even more courage to use it.
“I think we all have a platform in a new way now,” Stone said. "I think everyone's struggling and hopefully excited by the opportunity to use your voice in a different way than maybe we had the opportunity to years ago."
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