This freedom from the male gaze allowed for more creativity to actually do the work. Winstead, 35, says, “You’re not scrutinized with, ‘How can she look hotter?’ Which is an experience I’ve definitely had in the past.” Adds Perez: “It’s not like, ‘Let’s just put her in that because her ass is great,’ which I know we’ve all experienced.”
Smollett-Bell credits the general lack of objectification to having Yan and producer Sue Kroll at the helm with Robbie. “I realized, prior to this, how many projects I’ve been on where I’m the only woman on set and how alone I’ve felt,” she says.
By the women’s accounts, this is what I imagine true parity on a film set looks like: a safe environment where everyone can show up and do their best work, one in which female stars get the recognition they deserve, no questions asked. Perez says that hit home for her when she saw the movie’s official poster for the first time. She was surprised it was just the four women front and center. “In a lot of films, the male always gets the first billing no matter how big or small their part is,” she says. “Being in this business for so long, you still think the men are going to show up, you know? It felt very, very empowering.”
At this point in the conversation, I ask what each woman has learned from the others—and they all turn to Perez. “Why did you look at me?” she asks. “Because you’re just wise,” Smollett-Bell replies. “We all have girl crushes on you, in case you can’t tell.”
They take a moment to reminisce about the wrap party—a night when everyone danced so much that Perez had to put ice packs on her knees after. Then, a beat. Perez decides to share instead what she appreciated about the other women. First, she turns to Robbie. “I appreciated how Margot can be in charge but not make you feel less-than,” she says. “Sometimes when actors are also producers, they feel that they have to wear that hat too strongly. That wasn’t the case, so I appreciated how she kept her emotions in control all the time. Her professionalism is outstanding.”
And Winstead, Perez tells me, is the kindest person she’s ever met. (“I’m going to cry!” Winstead replies.)
As for Smollett-Bell: “With Jurnee, what I appreciated was that she’s strong. She’s so, so strong,” Perez says, directing her words to her costar. “You stand up for yourself in a very, very specific way. But inside, you’re so soft.”
The women all echo Perez’s comments, but Robbie has one final appreciation to share. “Rosie, who’s a legend in this industry already, can still show up like it’s brand-new, like she’s never said these words before. It always feels fresh and present. It’s so thrilling to work opposite someone who makes you forget you’re on a set. The set kind of melts away for a second. That only happens if people are present, and if they really show up for that scene with everything they have. Everyone here did that. I loved it. I loved it.”
Anna Moeslein is a senior editor at Glamour.
Videos by Danielle Levitt; Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Hair, Giannandrea at Forward Artists, makeup, Adam Breuchaud at The Wall Group; Rosie Perez: Hair, Johnny Lavoy at Maximize Beauty, makeup, Carissa Ferreri at The Wall Group; Margot Robbie: Hair, Bryce Scarlett at The Wall Group, makeup, Pati Dubroff at Forward Artists; Jurnee Smollett-Bell: Hair, Nikki Nelms at Impaq Beauty, makeup, Vincent Oquendo at The Wall Group