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(From L-R): Emma Stone, Alan Cumming, Martha MacIsaac and Natalie Morales in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The masterful Scottish-born American actor, singer, author and activist, Alan Cumming, is featured in the new film, “Battle of the Sexes,” focusing on the historic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the most viewed televised sports event ever. The film examines the lives of the two outside the media: King privately struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, and Riggs chasing his gambling demons. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, the movie is set to be unleashed September 22.

Cumming’s credits are too vast to list in their entirety, but they include “Cabaret,” “Hamlet” and “The Threepenny Opera” as well as films such as “Circle of Friends,” “Golden Eye,” “Reefer Madness” and “Urbania.” He has also appeared in various TV productions, including “The Good Wife.”

Just this week he released a children’s book and has celebrated the grand opening of his New York club, Club Cumming. I spoke with Cumming about all of his current and upcoming projects, as well as his views on “Battle of the Sexes,” and why he sees the film as important and relevant today.

I want to first congratulate you on the grand opening of your club.
Thank you. It’s very exciting.

Emma Stone and Alan Cumming in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Alan, is your real-life character similar to the role you portray as Ted Tinling, King’s stylist and confidant in “Battle of the Sexes”?
Not really very much. In terms of what he says at the end, I would love it if that’s how I was remembered. I really do believe that good will triumph, and that quality and kindness will prevail. Aside from that, Ted’s not like me at all.

The movie seems like it was a lot of fun to make. What stands out in your mind as a good time while filming?
I came to film it the very next day after I finished up “The Good Wife.” I came to L.A., and had not spent any time in L.A. besides awards and weekends for a long, long time. So I was here, and I had just gotten my new dog. I bonded with my dog, seeing friends I’d not seen for a long while. It was a really lovely set, with lovely people, so it was good to do that. It was a change of pace after all those years.

You actually got to meet Billie Jean King?
I knew Billie Jean before, actually; we were kind of friends. I remember she was telling me about this film, and then all of a sudden I got offered it. She just said that Ted was a very special person to her, a great sort of comfort to her. I thought it was nice last night; some of the girls were there that started the tour. The real people were there last night. It was lovely, very complimentary. I think they all loved Ted. He was like this godfather.

What’s next for you?
I’m flying back tonight. CBS has a new show called “Instinct.” I’m happy to be doing a season of that.

You just released a new children’s book as well?
I have a children’s book out this week. It’s called “The Adventures of Honey and Leon.” I’ve got a lot going on: a bar, a book, a TV show, a film…

You’re the busiest man around.
I know.

I met you once, at Danny Nardicio’s house on Fire Island.
Danny is my partner in the bar.

You must be very excited for the premiere of the film?
Yeah, I think it’s always a great moment when you know that obviously people really like this film. It’s turned out really well, and I think we’re all very proud of it. I want to connect with the audience. I want people to hear or see that story and hear what an amazing woman she was. I sort of can’t wait for people to talk about it. There’s a whole generation that I don’t think ever heard about this story.

They are going to get something out of this story, don’t you think?
Absolutely. I definitely think so. It was incredible. There’s no way that, least of all a sports event, gained so much interest in our whole culture. It was all over the TV channels. What a huge amount of pressure Billie Jean was under.

Well, Bobby Riggs was a real jerk.
I’ll say. I think because of some of his issues, he was a real dick.

You actually play a clothing designer/confidant. Are you into clothing?
A little bit. I mean, I’m not into making clothes or designing clothes, but I enjoy a nice outfit. One more thing that I realize is that I had to improvise quite a lot, just milling about, doing things. I found myself talking about sewing machines a lot, which was ridiculous.

Out of all the projects that you have done in your life – and there have been many – which did you find most challenging, or one your proudest moments?
The thing that’s coming to my mind is “Macbeth” on Broadway, because it was so difficult, so overwhelming, physically and mentally exhausting, that I had to try and just get through it. I think I’m just proud that I survived, literally. I thought that I might die doing it. Yeah, it was really awful, but it was also very powerful for the theater.

Is there anything else that he would like to say?
I would say that I’m very excited about this film. I also think that it is so great that Billie Jean, all of these years after doing that, the story is being told again with her inputs to a whole new generation. I think that she’s got a double whammy of how important her journey was. She’s an incredible person to have gone through the likes of what she’s gone through. I’m just so full of admiration for her.

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