This is not the first time Emma Stone and Steve Carell have been at odds onscreen.

In the 2011 romantic comedy “Crazy Stupid Love,” Stone played Hannah, the daughter of Cal (Carell) who gets caught dating Cal’s friend and serial dater Jacob (Ryan Gosling). When Cal finds out about their love affair, he forbids Hannah from ever seeing Jacob again, and teenage drama ensues. In “Battle of the Sexes,” the two are on the same playing field (pun intended) as they take on the roles of tennis legends Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. In our interview, we chat with Stone and Carell at the W Hotel in Westwood about getting into character, both psychically and mentally.


Steve Carell and Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Playing Billie Jean King is the first time Emma Stone played a real person.

I had never played a real person before, much less someone like Billie Jean. And so I wasn’t sure what my process was going to be. When I met her, she was so wonderful, and Ilana Kloss, her partner, they were so welcoming to me. [Billie Jean] made it very clear early on that she would be open to whatever process we needed to go through in order to bring this whole thing to fruition. And so we threw some balls around on a tennis court and then I quickly realized that I wanted to watch a lot of footage from her in the time period and read a lot about her. She is so fully formed now and is able to talk about all of this with closure and hindsight and she could just see it more clearly now than she might have been able to at age 29. So I ended up doing a lot of research on her just in that very specific time frame.

Carell on finding the tortured man in athlete Bobby Riggs

There’s this public persona [of Bobby] and then there’s this guy that no one really knew. When I started doing research, I watched a great “60 Minutes” interview with him. The conversation [eventually] came around to his wife, talking about how they’ve recently separated, etc. Even within all of that bravado and crazy, over the top nature of his, you could see this pain he was suffering with. That was the root of what I was going for, the complexity lying underneath his public persona.

Steve Carell and Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Emma is not a tennis player

Yeah, I’ve never played tennis, I’m not particularly good at tennis. I did a lot of lessons but I also had an incredible professional double named Kaitlyn Christian who was phenomenal and an amazing coach.[I had] the great Vince Spadea (film’s tennis choreographer and doubled for actor Steve Carell) bulking me up, and Billie Jean throwing balls at me. I was surrounded by a team of massive support when it came to that element, because so much of the story, obviously, is about her personal journey and her personal struggle. But if this had been the Billie Jean “tennis movie,” I would have never have gotten the part.

Carell’s makeover affected his love life

I read one review of this film that talked about how bad my wig was. It’s my real hair! I grew out my hair and grew these massive chops and used the same product Bobby used- Clairol #87. I think he was trying to get Clairol to sponsor him. So I used the same color, which was an orange/brown and grew these sideburns, which he didn’t dye, so those were grey. Me, my wife, and my kids went on a vacation before we shot and they didn’t want to be seen with me! And I have to say, it did sort of affect my love life with my wife.

Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Emma on finding the emotion after Billie Jean’s victory

I was thinking about that moment in all of the other scenes in the film. She has such strength and she holds it together and it’s all just right under the surface for most of the film. That sort of breaking point was just- you have to earn that moment of finally seeing everything that’s been happening underneath the surface this whole time. Because she was on four hours of sleep every night, all of this was going on with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), you can’t just sit in the overwhelm of that. So in that moment after winning, it was pivotal for me to know that this is where we were building to.

Carell’s Little Bo Peep scene was pretty shitty

It was one of those things that no one took into consideration before we shot the scene, that sheep shit. Between takes, there were two people, who didn’t know this was going to be their job, shoveling poop.

“Battle of the Sexes” is in select theaters today, everywhere Friday, Septemeber 29th