November 27, 2020

Andrea Riseborough on Misogyny, Sexuality and the Power of Billie Jean King

“I have never been a hairdresser and if you asked me to cut your bangs, I would probably do a f–king terrible job of it,” says Andrea Riseborough. She plays Marilyn Barnett, the former hairdresser-turned-lover of tennis champion Billie Jean King, whose 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match with Bobby Riggs has been turned into a film of the same name.
The Twentieth Century Fox production centers around the historic sports showdown, which was estimated to have been viewed by 90 million people. But with Steve Carell’s portrayal of a braggadocious Riggs and Emma Stone and Riseborough’s depiction of King and Barnett’s forbidden love affair, the film surpasses the realm of sports and comments on social issues that are as relevant today as they were then: misogyny, equal pay and the societal acceptance of homosexuality.
“It was almost like turning on a really bright fluorescent light in your eyes,” Riseborough says. “All of the women in the film, we were suddenly hyper-aware of the inequality that was happening right now, not what was happening in the early Seventies. That’s been a rude awakening, another ‘Oh God, that f–king s–t’ awakening for women.”
In preparation for her role, the actor spent time with the real-life

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