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Ten years ago, Emma Stone and Martha MacIsaac both found themselves starring in what would ultimately be seen by many as one of the great coming of age comedies in the modern era: Greg Motolla's Superbad. Since then, the actresses have stayed in touch personally, but within the industry they've stayed apart. That is, until the new movie Battle of the Sexes, which features their first screentime together in a decade. I recently had the opportunity to talk with directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton about this special reunion, and while it wasn't intentional during the casting process, they admitted that MacIsaac wound up being a special presence on set. Said the filmmakers:
Jonathan Dayton: We love [Martha MacIsaac], and when we started to put together the posse, the original nine, we just thought it would be great to have her for every reason.
Valerie Faris: She and Emma are friends, and it just felt like if we build this group of women that have a certain camaraderie, that can't hurt. And she's great! It's fun to see her in something. I was watching her last night, actually, at the premiere. I just watched her in a lot of the scenes, because so often I would be focused on Emma. But I just watched her in every scene, and it was so much fun!
I had the chance to talk with the directors during the Battle of the Sexes Los Angeles press day this past weekend, and it was in the midst of our conversation that I brought up the funny little reunion that comes together in their film. In Superbad, Emma Stone (Jules) and Martha MacIssac (Becca) played friends who are the respective love interests of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera's characters, and now 10 years later they're back palling around on the big screen. In the new movie, Stone stars in the lead role as tennis legend Billie Jean King, but MacIssac plays a notable player in her own right, portraying Jane 'Peaches' Bartkowicz. In 1970, both were part of the group of nine players who participated in the Houston Women's Invitation, which was essentially established in protest of professional tournaments giving unequal prize money to male and female competitors (and is a key event in the first act of the feature).
Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton had nothing but extremely nice things to say about the actors that they cast for Battle of the Sexes, and found themselves immensely impressed by their dedication. They admitted to me that they didn't personally have the opportunity to do research on absolutely every single historical figure represented in the movie, but noted that their ensemble definitely did the work for their individual characters, and expressed real pride in their contributions:
Jonathan Dayton: [Martha is] so present. All of the actors hold their own in these group scenes.
Valerie Faris: They studied their people.
Jonathan Dayton: I want people to watch it many times.