The Hollywood Reporter has gathered some of the top A-list TV drama actresses for their latest roundtable discussion about Hollywood and beyond.
Michelle Williams (“Fosse/Verdon”), Niecy Nash (“When They See Us”), Emilia Clarke (“Game Of Thrones”), Patricia Arquette (“Escape At Dannemora”), Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight”) and Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead”) are opening up about speaking their minds and putting their feet down when it comes to career asks.
“I don’t want to travel for work,” says Williams. “I’ve somehow managed to work out of New York for the past seven years. My daughter has stayed in the same school with the same friends, and that’s a super high priority for me.”
“Don’t want to play a cranky old lady, don’t want to play a b**ch — or a powerful woman who, because she’s powerful, is a b**ch,” Baranski says. “You know, all the stereotypes about older women. Nope.”
Adds Nash: “I don’t want to be a sassy black anything. I don’t want to be a sassy black mama, a sassy black neighbour or a sassy black friend. There are so many more notes to be played.”
For Clarke, knowing that she didn’t want to be in a movie that would require multiple sequels and nudity kept her out of “Fifty Shades Of Grey”.
“[T]he last time that I was naked on camera on [‘Game of Thrones’] was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman,” Clarke responds. “And it’s annoying as hell and I’m sick and tired of it because I did it for the character — I didn’t do it so some guy could check out my tits, for God’s sake. So, that coming up, I was like, “I can’t.” I did a minimal amount and I’m pigeonholed for life, so me saying yes to that, where the entire thing is about sensuality and sex and being naked and all of that stuff, I was just like, “No way am I going to voluntarily walk into that situation and then never be able to look someone in the eye and be like, ‘No, you can’t keep asking me this question.'”
For Oscar-winner Arquette, gaining weight for her award-winning role in “Escape At Dannemora” brought about different challenges as she likens the experience to becoming an “invisible person.”
“Like, they would just get in front of you in line or you’d be standing there at the counter, waiting for a long time, and nobody would come to help you. Like, ‘Oh, you’re just kind of a matronly, dumpy, middle-aged lady, so you don’t exist in the world,'” she says. Arquette says that gaining weight for the character also gave her new avenues to explore, especially with some sexually-charged scenes in the drama.
“I’m going to gain a bunch of weight and my boobs are going to be giant, and my stomach. And this is the first love scene where, no, I’m not wearing any body makeup and I don’t care that it’s high def,” she tells THR. “And, yeah, it’s all a nightmare, but I really wanted to [explore], ‘Who’s allowed to be sexual now in this culture? What body type do we have to have?'”
Arquette also admits she was asked to lose weight during her time on “Medium”.
She says, “I had an argument with one of the producers on ‘Medium,’ who told me I should lose weight. I was like, ‘This lady is a mother, she’s married, she’s got three kids. No.’ But there’s that expectation of looking a certain way. Like, ‘OK, you could be 40, but you’ve got to be a 40 who looks 30.’”
Off-camera, Williams has become the face of the gender pay gay following the much-publicized discrepancy between her salary and co-star Mark Wahlberg’s on “All The Money In The World”.
“I went to D.C. recently to speak on pay equality… and something that was interesting that was said to me there was that they were so grateful for me coming to tell this story because when you’re talking about $10 versus $14, people have a hard time hearing the difference. But when you use an example as extreme as mine, it really [drives it home],” the actress explains, calling the opportunity to draw attention to the gender pay gap “the most exciting and important thing that I’ve ever been involved in.”
“I’m so moved personally and professionally to have found my place in the conversation and my voice through the conversation and to feel like I’ve grown up inside of the conversation. It’s the thing I’ll feel the closest to, more than any work I’ve ever done,” she adds.