Rosie Perez, left, in a scene from the movie Birds of Prey. Warner Brothers Pictures.
Rosie Perez, left, in a scene from the movie Birds of Prey. Warner Brothers Pictures.

These birds can kick some butt

Rosie Perez had at least two decades on her Birds of Prey co-stars, but that didn't stop her from kicking butt as police detective Renee Montoya.

The Brooklyn native knew the renowned 87Eleven stunt team would get her in shape to chase down the bad guys in Warner Brothers' Suicide Squad spin-off.

"Even before I knew what the movie was going to be about, I was ecstatic at the prospect of working with 87Eleven. I was a big fan of their work," she says.

"Every day after filming I was in an ice bath and I'd wrap my knees every night to go to bed. I'm not complaining; it was a great experience. 87Eleven took care of me and made me stronger than I've been in a really long time."

 

Rosie Perez attends the Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn World Premiere at the BFI IMAX in London, England. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.
Rosie Perez attends the Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn World Premiere at the BFI IMAX in London, England. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.

 

A true triple threat, Perez started her career as a dancer on Soul Train at just 19. She went on to choreograph music videos for Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown, Diana Ross and LL Cool J.

Dancing led to her breakthrough role in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and an Oscar-nominated role in Australian director Peter Weir's 1993 film Fearless followed.

"My dance background in regards to (the fight) choreography helped a lot," she says.

"The challenge was to really get in the tip-top shape of an action actor. I have a new, profound respect for every actor who does this and stunt person who does this now. This is no joke.

"Being a woman of a certain age, I didn't want my fight scenes to look overly stylised and sleek. I wanted to look like a real detective of a certain age firing a gun and chasing after a woman like Harley Quinn."

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) follows Harley Quinn, after splitting with the Joker, as she teams up with superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Detective Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

 

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in a scene from the movie Birds of Prey. Warner Brothers Pictures.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in a scene from the movie Birds of Prey. Warner Brothers Pictures.

 

"There's a darkness in Renee which comes from dealing with the world of men inside Gotham PD, and how men expressed how they were threatened by her by distancing and oppressing her and passing her over for promotion after promotion and belittling her," Perez says. "That made her a very, very dark person because of the anger she felt from all of that and I think a lot of women are going to relate to that."

Perez is full of praise for her Aussie co-star Margot Robbie, who reprises her acclaimed role as the unhinged Quinn and also takes on the role of producer.

Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez and director Cathy Yanin on the set of the movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Supplied by Warner Bros.
Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez and director Cathy Yanin on the set of the movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Supplied by Warner Bros.

"Margot as a producer was great. She didn't act like 'Hey I'm the boss; I'm the big deal'. How she vascilated between the role of producer and lead actor was impressive for a young person. I was like 'Oh wow'. She's a very sweet and kind person," she says.

"Then in the fight scene I had with Margot I was like 'Girl you are no joke. We're going to go for this one'. We ended up bruised; we just went all out. She's so game, so super fit and take after take it was easy.

"We are so privileged to do what we get to do. With this cast not one member took it for granted. We all knew we were sitting on something special and a special opportunity to put out a strong message on the power of women and when women unite."

With a female director, writer and female-dominated cast, Perez says the film also embraces that message off camera.

 

From left Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie and Ella Jay Basco pose for a selfie at the world premiere of Birds of Prey in London. Photo: Joel C Ryan/AP.
From left Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie and Ella Jay Basco pose for a selfie at the world premiere of Birds of Prey in London. Photo: Joel C Ryan/AP.

 

"Another attraction for me to this project was to dispel that narrative that women can't work together. That is exciting for me," she says.

"You can have your differences but if you have a goal and an objective that align with each other, then you put your differences aside and move forward. Women do that every single day. The narrative put forward to us showcases that in a great way."

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) opens in cinemas on Thursday.


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