Miami Living Magazine

Aaron Diaz

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Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures Why you must see The Battle of the Sexes "I think Battle of the Sexes is really timely without even meaning to be timely. This movie is really important to see, especially for people who didn't know the story that well, and understand what it was like back then. And it's honestly very much similar to today in a lot of ways, y'know? I think I just took away a sense of purpose and a sense of fight from that movie. A lot of the themes it touches on are really happening again. I think women have become, in the last two years, a lot more aware of the fact that maybe not everything is OK, and maybe we need to fight a little more to make sure it is. I think we felt a sense of maybe not appropriate safety before we had a President that said he liked to grab women's pussies. Y'know? Like that creates a certain amount of anxiety in, I think, every woman and maybe everybody automatically as you wake up in the morning because it's like you feel like you live in a slightly different place for a second. It's an odd world to live in. Frankly, how our politicians or the men in charge of things are talking about women is very, very timely and when you watch it in a movie that's set in the 70s, you're like, Ohmygod, this is still happening, and that's crazy. We feel like we've come so far, but maybe we haven't. It's like, Oh man, why did that feel so current, if it wasn't current at all?" Battle of the Sexes follows the lives of World #1 Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and ex-tennis champ Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell) leading up to their famous 1973 tennis match watched by 90 million people. Natalie plays Rosie Casals, who was one of the best female tennis players during the 1960s and 70s, and one of the original nine who joined Billie on the first professional women's tennis tour. "Basically, what happened was the tennis association was offering, for the tournament, the men eleven times as much money for the same games, and the women were bringing in the same amount of crowds. So Billie Jean and the rest of the nine were like, This is unfair… Billie Jean got all the best women, started her own circuit, and made history really." To prepare for her role, Natalie did her research and watched many videos of Rosie to get the tone of her voice, her attitude, and accent just right. "I don't play tennis at all. Luckily in the movie, I'm never playing tennis. We had really great pro tennis players who were doubling us. I feel like Rosie Casals had a lot more muscle than I did —I'm kinda wimpy in that department," she says with a smile. At the time of our interview in mid-September, Rosie and Natalie had not yet met and had only exchanged emails, but we're slated to meet at the Los Angeles premiere that Saturday. "I think all of the original nine are going to be there. I'm really excited about it," she beams. Portraying a real person was daunting, and this was Natalie's first time doing it. "That's so scary, especially if they're still alive. I mean, if they're dead, it's scary, too," she laughs, "because you want to do them justice. At least Billie Jean said I did, so that's good." Natalie met the real Billie Jean at the Toronto premiere. To portray somebody "important" was a really cool experience for Natalie as she wants people to know about Rosie just as much as she wants people to know about this story. "Billie Jean was backed into a corner. Imagine if you were the top athlete of your time and you have to play some 55-year-old man who is making a mockery out of it, because if you don't, you won't be taken seriously. And if you lose, you won't be taken seriously. What a corner to be put in." The waitress comes by to take our order. "Are you going to have a drink?" Natalie asks. If you have a drink, I'll have a drink. "Let's have drinks! I think I'm going to have the Boozy Berry." I follow suit. Reuniting with the other ladies at TIFF was exciting for the group. "It was a big love fest this weekend at TIFF —we haven't seen each other in more than a year. It's like, if the movie was terrible, just having to hang out with those people was fun, was a dream. But it turned out to be good, so we're all really happy about it," says Natalie, who befriended Emma, and Sarah Silverman, who plays Gladys Heldman. Natalie has always been a big LGBQT advocate, and while promoting Battle of the Sexes, which briefly

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