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Emma Stone Used Dance to Prepare for Role as Billie Jean King

2017-09-23

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[00:00.00]
  • American actress Emma Stone admits she has never played tennis.
  • [00:06.92]
  • So to play the role of tennis champion Billie Jean King in the new film Battle of the Sexes, she prepared her body using a different exercise: dance.
  • [00:24.90]
  • Battle of the Sexes tells the story of King’s 1973 exhibition match against former men’s champion Bobby Riggs, played in the film by Steve Carell.
  • [00:44.06]
  • It also tells the story of King fighting for equal pay and against sexism in sports.
  • [00:54.18]
  • Stone, who is 28, and King, the 73-year-old tennis great, became good friends while making the movie.
  • [01:08.21]
  • King said, “I tried to put myself in Emma’s shoes. That’s really taking a risk portraying someone who is still alive. I‘m like, ‘God, that’s a little pressure.”
  • [01:23.16]
  • Stone won an Oscar earlier this year for her work in the musical movie La La Land.
  • [01:33.47]
  • In that film, she had to sing and dance. So she practiced her footwork and body movements to play King.
  • [01:46.28]
  • “I danced, so footwork was good. (And) I had been on stage before and when Billie Jean went out onto the tennis court it felt like her stage, so she really keyed in on that,” Stone said.
  • [02:03.34]
  • Stone also practiced basic tennis moves like serves and cross-court backhands.
  • [02:11.92]
  • But even after weeks of work, she still struggled with the simple things related to the sport.
  • [02:21.54]
  • Stone said, ”We went to the U.S. Open ... and I was sitting next to Billie Jean, and Sloane Stephens was catching balls and tucking them in her skirt and bouncing them with the racquet.
  • [02:37.95]
  • “It’s just little in-between stuff but that took me months to learn!”
  • [02:45.07]
  • King herself worked with the film’s screenwriter.
  • [02:50.35]
  • She recalled her experiences in the sport in the early 1970s.
  • [02:57.06]
  • At the time, she was trying to establish a professional tour for women.
  • [03:04.60]
  • There was also her match against Riggs.
  • [03:09.03]
  • King beat Bobby Riggs in that famous Battle of the Sexes tennis match.
  • [03:16.70]
  • More than 50 million people watched it on television.
  • [03:21.34]
  • King says she is not surprised that women are still fighting for equal pay.
  • [03:30.00]
  • She said, ”If you read history, you realize how slow progress is and that it’s each generation’s job to try and move the ball forward."
  • [03:45.87]
  • “We’ve come further, but we’ve a lot further to go,” King said.
  • [03:52.04]
  • Battle of the Sexes opens on Friday, September 22, in theaters across the United States.
  • [04:02.02]
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