Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne perfectly tackle Hollywood’s gender problem
On Thursday, beloved actresses and badass women Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne sat down with TIME to discuss their new film, Addicted To Fresno. The movie follows two sisters who work as maids at a local hotel, and the hilariously messed up things they do after one of them accidentally kills a guest. Based on the trailer, it looks like dark comedy at its finest — and we can’t wait to see it.
During their interview, the two discussed everything from breaking out of type-casting to coping with “edgier” material. But perhaps most notably, they also delved into a greater discussion about Hollywood’s gender problem, and why it’s so essential we have better gender diversity in the industry. Unsurprisingly, they had some amazing and very smart things to say.
In Addicted to Fresno, Greer and Lyonne were both reunited with female director Jamie Babbit — who Lyonne worked with in the amazing cult film, But I’m a Cheerleader, and Greer has worked with on Married. While they were both quick to shoot down any stereotypes about male and female directors, they did agree that there are still some marked differences to working with each. In particular, working with Babbit made both actresses feel as though they were better able to focus on their characters, rather than their looks.
“The feeling that they really want you there in the main part, and how you look is a totally ancillary thing, like it would be for a man, because there’s women behind the monitor who don’t see you that way and see you as an equal human being and not a commodity,” Lyonne explained to TIME. “Jamie is as sick and alpha as any man I’ve ever met, but what she wants is that essence of you on the screen. To feel that safe and feel you can be yourself — we all have our stuff, and it can be frustrating when you can’t harness it on demand. We were in a safe enough environment that we could.”
Of course, this objectifying feeling isn’t true of all male directors; and both are careful to point out that we should work to avoid any easy generalizations. Regardless, the lack of equal representation does set a precedent in the industry and affects everyone involved — whether they’re in front of the camera or behind it.
“You have to be careful saying, ‘Women are this way,’ and, ‘Men are that way,’” Greer told TIME. “It’s not true to say that just because someone’s a woman, they’re not going to objectify a woman, or push you harder.”
“There’s an injustice because men, especially white, straight men, tend to get opportunities that make things easier than for women or anybody else,” Lyonne added. “At the independent movie level, you have a lot of straight, white men you work with on their first indie feature who have no idea what they’re doing. That can manifest in a lot of problematic ways, including trying to pretend they know what they’re [doing.]”
By creating more space for women in all departments of film, it lifts the industry as a whole. Even more than that, it helps dismantle outdated stereotypes that affect all genders equally — something essential for society as a whole. Luckily, both Greer and Lyonne are hopeful for the future; even if they don’t think the change will happen anytime soon.
“I think what’s great about women making movies about women is that right now, we’re carving out that this is a trend that’s happening, but the end of that story isn’t women making movies about women, or men making movies about women, or women working more,” Greer said. “It’s about it all being equal.”
“We’re not going to see that in our lifetime. But hopefully when my stepdaughter is older, or when her kids are older, there’s not going to be the question, ‘What’s it like making a movie about women?’ It’s just going to be, ‘What’s it like making this movie?’” Greer continued. “But until that time, we have to talk about it, because otherwise, the Ferris wheel is just going to keep spinning, and we’ll never get to be equals.”
While they both concede that female-driven movies are certainly on the rise, they ultimately hope to see Hollywood reach a place where these films aren’t just a trend — they’re a part of the norm.
Addicted to Fresno is out today, October 2, on VOD and in theaters.
(Images via Shutterstock.)