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When filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris began work on a movie about the famous 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match, they knew they'd need the blessing of Billie Jean King. But it wasn't such an easy ask: the movie they wanted to make wasn't just about tennis -- it would also explore King's extramarital affair with her hairdresser. Faris and Dayton,the directors of Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, tell us about their intimidating first meeting with the famous athlete and activist. And they explain how a delay in making their movie while Emma Stone went off to film La La Land might have been a good thing.

Photo: Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris on the set of Battle of the Sexes. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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Directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris on 'Battle of the Sexes' 20 MIN, 40 SEC

The new movie Battle of the Sexes tells the story of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and retired men’s champion Bobby Riggs.

Emma Stone plays King at 29 as she leads the fight for better pay for women tennis players -- who at the time made only a fraction of what male players did. Steve Carell plays 55-year-old Riggs, a compulsive gambler always in search of an angle.

Battle of the Sexes is not only about the competition; it portrays another, very personal struggle for King, who was married at the time but began a relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett, played by Andrea Riseborough.

The directors of Battle of the Sexes are Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, a married couple who also directed Little Miss Sunshine’ in 2006 and Ruby Sparks in 2012.

With only those two other movies in their filmography, Dayton and Faris are extremely selective about their projects. But they were immediately drawn to the story of Billie Jean King, and they weren’t the only ones. They tell us why they think so many people were interested in making a "battle of the sexes" movie now, and why their project won out. They also talk about breaking into the industry by directing music videos and why making commercials is great preparation for directing features. Faris and Dayton also share how the way audiences reacted to Battle of the Sexes changed after the 2016 presidential election.

Jonathan Dayton, Filmmaker
Valerie Faris, Filmmaker


Kim Masters

Kaitlin Parker

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