Andrea Berloff: I thought it was a really special piece of material that I had never seen. Women at the center of a mob story? I thought, oh my god, that is so delicious and exciting. What if women really could take over the mob or, by extension, any industry? What would that be like? It just got my writer brain flowing.
And now it’s become your first feature film as a director. What was it specifically about this story that made you say, this is the one I want to direct?
I finished writing the script and, for the first time in a very long time, I felt like I had more to say. I was so filled with ideas about things like what the costumes should look like and what the sets should look like. And there was so much backstory on the characters that was not necessarily on the page that I had in my head. I just felt a sense of urgency to keep going with this one in a way that I really don’t think I ever have before.
A key difference from the graphic novel is that in that original text, all three women are white. For the film, you cast Tiffany Haddish as Ruby. Why did you make that decision and what kind of research did you do into the racial dynamics and challenges of Black women in the seventies?
The comic was sent to me in February 2016, which was right when I was finishing up the press and awards stuff on Straight Outta Compton. So, at the time, I was embroiled in this giant national conversation on race through that movie. I had done quite a bit of research and work throughout the years of working on that film about: What is racism in America? What does it feel like? So when the graphic novel was sent to me, I just said to the studio, “Listen, I would love to write this, but I don’t want to make a movie with three white women right now. I want to make sure that one of these women is African American. I don’t necessarily know how I’m going to do it, but it’s going to be authentic and integrated and interesting.”
It’s not as simple as, as colorblind casting. It’s not as simple as just writing a role and casting an African American actress in it. [The studio] gave me the space to do that, and encouraged me to do it. Listen, I have the ability to create space for a diversity of stories and a diversity of people telling those stories. I feel like my job is to make that space, lay the foundation, and then let people talk about it. I certainly don’t feel like I’m the end all, be all in this conversation in any way. I just think that, in some ways, I have the obligation to make the space to continue that conversation.
In your own experience working in Hollywood, with your notable screenwriting work, you still had to pitch the studio to be the director. There are very few female directors in the industry right now. Is that something that you were thinking about when you pitched yourself?
Well, I did not think they were going to hire me. Let me be very clear about that. I have no experience [directing]. It was much more about, “Just let me get in the room and have an opportunity to meet with you guys. I know the story better than anybody else who’s gonna go through those doors and let me start sharing with you all the stuff that’s still in my head.” I think they were excited that I knew how much more there was to tell the story. But yeah, things are so not good for women directors and not good for women-centered films. If audiences want to see these movies, they have to go to the box office and they have to buy a ticket. If you care about diversity, on [screen] and behind the scenes, you’ve got to buy a ticket. There are no two ways about it.
Source : Yolanda Machado Link