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Emma Stone enjoyed working out for 'Battle of the Sexes'

Emma Stone enjoyed working out for 'Battle of the Sexes'

It's been said that victory has a hundred fathers but failure is an orphan, and in a way the reverse is true of true story narratives. "Progress can be slow, but it's so, so important to keep going, to not lose hope and to know that eventually, it'll all going to balance out". Why, too, she wondered, was she in a relationship that would lead to a small-town life when she'd long dreamed of becoming a New Yorker? "Jeez, why hadn't anyone made this movie before?"

Any woman who has negotiated a salary or raise in the past five years (or the past 50) might feel a shiver of recognition watching Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' buoyant period piece Battle of the Sexes.

At the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered earlier this month, the 32-year-old actor - who's from CT and used to spend summers working on Martha's Vineyard - talked about his '70s hair, portraying real people, and cheering for Stone in real life.

Battle of the Sexes takes viewers back to 1973 and the Houston Astrodome, the setting of the famous exhibition tennis match between feminist icon Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), then 29, and chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), then 55. However, through Carell's nuanced portrayal we understand that Riggs was a man who was so desperate to be liked that he would spout anything to get attention.

"One thing about being in your 70's, you have perspective. Working on footwork was probably simpler for me than doing the things I needed to learn to do with the racket".

As the film opens, Billie Jean storms into a social club to confront Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), a former player and creator of the "Open" tournaments. Best of all, the tennis action boasts impressive volleys that'll make you ask: How did they do that? If this is your takeaway after two hours, that says more about you than it does the movie. Discrimination is more assumption than insult.

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Billie Jean and eight of the other top female players in tennis left the USLTA and struck out on their own, building a new tour from scratch entirely on their own. "With you it's for real".

Not so subtle, however, was John McEnroe's recent comment that Serena Williams would rank 700th in the world "if she played the men's circuit". She threatened by an affair that she is having with her hairdresser Marilyn.

Here again, what makes Battle of the Sexes so special is that it doesn't cheapen King's adversity by personifying it in a cheesy villain. When the two wind up in bed, King points out the painful truth: Being publicly outed as gay could demolish her livelihood, as well as crush her devoted husband Larry (Austin Stowell). Sometimes being yourself means hurting good people, that's why it's so hard. "It feels so good".

And Emma is in this really incredible place in her career where she's really welcoming a challenge and - you know, not only the physical challenge because she had to transform herself into a pro athlete, but also just the emotional range that she had to travel. "I'm like, 'God, that's a little pressure", King said. That trend will hopefully continue following "Battle of the Sexes".

Billie Jean King and Emma Stone at the US Open.

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