One of the most famous events in the history of sports was the match between tennis players Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973. The face-off was dubbed the “Battle of the Sexes” and helped fuel the conversation over feminism and equal pay. Emma Stone and Steve Carell portray these two iconic athletes in a new film from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), and the first look has arrived as production begins.
Carell earned an Oscar nomination for his darker role of John du Pont in Foxcatcher, and his turn as Riggs, who was plagued by gambling, is another transformative one. As for Dayton and Faris, they’re aware of the irony of their partnership in helming a filmed called Battle of the Sexes. They said in a statement:
The irony isn’t lost on us that we are a husband-and-wife team directing the Battle of the Sexes. As soon as we read Simon’s script we knew we had to make this film. We feel so fortunate to have gathered such an amazing group of artists, both behind and in front of camera.
Also featuring in the film are Elisabeth Shue (Chasing Mavericks), Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Stone’s Birdman co-star Andrea Riseborough, Eric Christian Olsen (CSI: Los Angeles), Natalie Morales (The Grinder), Austin Stowell (Whiplash), Wallace Langham (Ruby Sparks), Jessica McNamee (Last Days of Summer), Mickey Sumner (The End of the Tour) and Bill Pullman.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
The electrifying 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became the most watched televised sports event of all time. The match caught the zeitgeist and sparked a global conversation on gender equality, spurring on the feminist movement. Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposites sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. With a supportive husband urging her to fight the Establishment for equal pay, the fiercely private King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, while Riggs gambled his legacy and reputation in a bid to relive the glories of his past. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis courts and animated the discussions between men and women in bedrooms and boardrooms around the world.