“Entertainment Weekly’s: Women Who Kick Ass” panel, which has been a consistent highlight since its conception, absolutely lived up to the hype this year at Comic-Con 2015. Looking as badass and lovely as ever, Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), and Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) sat down with Entertainment Weekly’s Sarah Vikomerson in Hall H to discuss what it means to be a woman in today’s world, on and off screen.
The panelists shared their thoughts on how the world has changed and that, in the continuing fight for equality we, as women, are thrilled to finally be seeing female characters, on film and television, in which we can sincerely see ourselves reflected. The panel also discussed many significant issues that women from all walks of life can relate to; From discussions of how important it is to pull ourselves back up after inevitable failures, to embracing and utilizing our unique and powerful voices, the women on this panel used their platform to create a powerful dialog with the audience to discuss female equality and empowerment.
As strong, capable, amazing, and unique women, we need forums where we feel comfortable to discuss our concerns and share the prejudices we face. We deserve a place where we are able to facilitate these conversations about what it means to be a woman in 2015, in order to become empowered and united in the continued journey toward gender equality. This weekend, at Comic-Con 2015, Entertainment Weekly’s: Women Who Kick Ass gave us that. It was fantastic.
As soon as the panelists began filing out onto the stage, the audience erupted into enthusiastic applause. Clearly, I was not the only one who had been anxiously awaiting this panel. Kathy Bates was, rightfully so, the last to be announced and when she finally appeared, from standing ovations to more “I-love-you-Kathies” than you can count, the crowd went wild. Acting as the perfectly lovely powerhouse that she is, Bates graciously smiled and waved to the audience.
– On playing powerful women:
- Gadot : “I always feel like women don’t get the same volume, the same stage, as men do,” she began, adding that she always tries to show the “stronger” and “amazing” sides of women for that very reason. Gadot said that, for her, it has never been about men vs. women but, instead, it’s “always about showing how amazing we are! Because we are!”
- Christie: She began by discussing how the world has changed so much over the past ten years and that now, with the internet, women are communicating and realizing what they want. “Women want to see themselves being represented in a more realistic way! … We’re all so unique that that’s what we want to see. We want to see people that we can relate to or people that are so vastly different from us that, somehow, through the journey of storytelling, we find out that we are not so different after all. And I do feel that’s starting to happen and I’m very grateful for that.”
Bates cheered, “Bravo!” and led the audience in a loud and enthusiastic round of applause.
– On a female that has made an impact on them personally:
- Atwell : “I’m going to go with Bette Davis,” Atwell began. She said that Bette Davis was talented, bold, complicated, opinionated, and notorious at a time when that wasn’t generally “the norm” for women.
- Gadot: “My mother,” she began, adding that her mother gave her and her sister “everything we have today.” She said that she always gave them “endless love” and encouraged them to believe in themselves, follow their dreams, and work hard.
Christie: “For me, I’ve always admired this particular woman that, when I was young and watching films, seemed to be outside of the norm and seemed to be maybe something I could aspire to… Sigourney Weaver in Alien.” The audience went nuts. They loved it. Christie went on to explain that Weaver inspired her because of her ability to show power “without forsaking her femininity.”
- Coleman: “Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby for not being afraid to ask questions, not being afraid to and persevere and have a mind and a voice.”
- Bates: “Goes Ghandi count?” she asked and the audience laughed. Then, Bates went on to say that her answered would have to be her mother who “was a real ass-kicker too.” She said that her mother “was born in 1907, she was a real tough character and she taught me to be tough.” Bates added that she wouldn’t be where she is today if not for her mother.
– Bates on what she will be doing next on American Horror Story:
Bates said, “I know I’m running the hotel which is very exciting.”
- She continued on and said, “I know I say this every season but I don’t know how our writers do it… It’s almost like a completely different way of telling a story. The wonderful characters; everyone is just going to be knocked out of their seats when they see [the upcoming season].”
- Bates said that she has “a blast working on the show” and feels “very lucky.”
– On whether they believe that film or television is more hospitable to women:
- “I think a lot of us are going to television because the writing is so wonderful now,” Bates said. “It’s just a place for all of us as actors to play dream characters that many of us wouldn’t get an opportunity to do… And its fun!”
– Gadot on playing Wonder Woman:
The Audition Process: Gadot shared that she was asked to audition for Warner Bros. but was not told what it was for. She said that she did the audition and was already back in Israel when director Zack Snyder called her about doing a camera test.
- Gadot said that director Zack Snyder asked her, “Do you know what you’re testing for?” “I said, ‘no,’” Gadot recollected. “And he said, ‘Do you have Wonder Woman in Israel?’ My jaw dropped.”
- The Costume: Gadot said that she went into a room for a fitting and was surrounded my images of herself in the Wonder Woman costume. She said that she was in awe. “It blew my mind!”
- She said that trying on the costume was an “out of body experience.”
- “Here I am, this little girl from Israel, becoming Wonder Woman!”
- She said that she loves the way the costume was designed. She said that she really feels that it truly “represents the Wonder Woman of today.”
– Christie on, how she would write her Game of Thrones character, Brienne’s, happy ending:
Christie said that some of the things that people love about Brienne are her dedication and strong sense of good. She started to describe a scene in the final episode but caught herself and said, “Oh, gosh! Spoiler alert! But there’s something involving a candle and it’s good!”
- The audience laughed and she continued on, saying that she feels that people want to see Brienne “redeem herself again.”
- She said that the darker sides that we see of Brienne are really special because they show the character’s humanity “and how we all fail, and the strongest, badass women fail and as long as you try to redeem yourself again, keep going and try to achieve your goals and keep to the greater good, that’s all that you can do.”
- Her beautiful words were well received with cheers and applause.
– Atwell on her working experiences and Agent Carter:
- On “standing-up ” for her character: “It’s not so much [concerns about a character’s dialogue],” Atwell said, “but it often involved me just going, ‘I don’t think she would be naked in this scene. We don’t need that and I’m not doing it just to fulfill your weird little fantasy.’”
The audience went crazy!!!! It. Was. Awesome! Feminists everywhere, unite!
- On doing character development: Atwell also shared that she was excited to broaden the scope for her character, Peggy Carter. She said that Carter didn’t get much “onscreen time” and was excited to finally be able to do the character justice thanks to her television show, Agent Carter.
- Atwell said that she wanted to honestly portray the mental and emotional toll that was taken on Carter after she lost her great love, Captain America. She continued on to share that it’s impossible for anyone to “maintain a sense of empowerment all of the time” and that she wanted to show the genuine moments of “isolation and self-doubt” that Carter has.
- On the relationship between Peggy Carter and Angie: Atwell said that it’s very rare to see “women in a scene together, not talking about the men” and “genuinely loving each other, supporting each other, and caring for each other and not in competition with each other, not being catty and battling.” She said that was a very important part of their relationship that she and actress Lyndsy Fonseca, who plays Angie, wanted to illustrate.
– Coleman on her character, Clara, from Doctor Who:
She began by saying that she loved being able to play three versions of the same character. “Welcome to Sci-fi!” she joked. She said that all of the characters have “the same essence” but that, what was special, was that she was able to explore the many sides of the character, such as the “domestic” side, the professional side, etc.
- Coleman on whether or not a woman could take over the role of The Doctor in Doctor Who: “Absolutely no reason why not!” she said, adding later on that she is “sure it will happen at some point.”
Q: A young man came to the microphone and said that he had recently purchased and worn and Wonder Woman shirt. He said that, sadly, he had been antagonized for wearing it.
A: “Wear it! Wear it!” Gadot yelled, supportively.
The young man replied that he wants to but that the negative feedback is daunting.
- “Why?!” Gadot genuinely asked. “Of course you can [wear that shirt]!”
- The young man agreed. He said that he was told that he was “brave” for wearing it and that he tells those bullying him that if women can wear Batman, then he can wear Wonder Woman.
- The panelists cheered along with the audience in support of the young man.
- Christie and Atwell joined in, telling him that he will be one of the people who stands up for themselves, changing things for the better and becoming an inspiration. The young man beamed and thanked them. Very sweet moment.
Q: A man told Gadot, in Hebrew first (which she LOVED) and then, again, in English, for the rest of us, how much of an inspiration she is to have come from their “small country.” He said that he felt that her professional journey was more difficult than the rest of the panelists.
A: “It doesn’t matter where you come from and how small the country you are coming from us is!” Gadot said. “Dream, aim high. All of the clichés are right… I do think that everyone can achieve their dreams.”
Q: Christie and Atwell, you are sometimes treated poorly by men and you have to respond as the character. How would you respond in “your own way?”
A: Christie: “All of the time, with violence.” The audience cheered and Christie leaned up and added, “That was a joke.”
Atwell: “Peggy is very resourceful… She uses her whit and her charm and her intelligence and, at times, when she needs to her sexuality but she doesn’t depend upon it.” She said that Carter can be seen and recognized as a unique and powerful character, “independent of [her] sex.” Atwell then added that Marvel is very supportive of this vision of Peggy Carter because they want the same things for the character.
Q: Gadot, is there anything is particular that you enjoyed about Wonder Woman?
A: Gadot answered that she can’t reveal very much. But she did say, “I just can’t wait for you guys to see what we’ve made for you… [This modern day Wonder Woman that Zack Snyder created] is inspiring for me. I go to bed and I dream of her.”