Rosie Perez has been acting for over 30 years, but it’s her involvement in DC Comics and Warner Bros.’ latest movie Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (formerly known as Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) alongside Margot Robbie, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ella Jay Basco that really holds a special place in her heart. “I've never done anything like this,” the Brooklyn native, who plays Gotham City Detective Renee Montoya, tells HOLA! USA of the female-led comic book movie. “I mean I've done action and other things but never like this.” The Puerto Rican powerhouse will also never forget her experience thanks to a torn meniscus disc that happened on day one of the tough training.
Injury aside, the White Men Can’t Jump actress persevered through the pain so she could still be a part of this ‘badass’ film, even if her heels had to get a little lower, and she didn’t have as wild of a wardrobe compared to the other characters. “Renee is not a flashy character,” she explains. “Everyone else had the shiny outfits and were fabulous and wonderful, so I had to make Renee Montoya fabulous in her drab outfit.”
Keep reading to see how the 55-year-old did exactly that, and why being a part of this movie “blows [Rosie’s] freaking mind.”
HOLA! USA: What was it like being a part of Birds of Prey?
Rosie Perez: I would say it’s up there with White Men Can't Jump because White Men Can't Jump was a lot of fun. The difference is that when the party was in my trailer, it was all female. And that was just like, "Oh my god, this is so badass."
And your character Renee Montoya is a force…
“In regards to the acting, it was hard because the way it was written, Renee Montoya is not a flashy character. Everyone else had the shiny outfit, so I had to make her fabulous in her drab outfit. And what I did was I went back to DC Comics book and I was like, she's strong. She's tenacious. She's serious.”
You may not have had the flashy attire but your t-shirt was so good! [Editor’s note: You’ll have to see the movie to know what it says]
“That t-shirt was hilarious. For me when I walked on set, everyone couldn't stop laughing. It took me a minute to get it together and be in the head of Renee Montoya. It was genius. It's like what else are you going to do to her? And still, she just rolls right with it.”
You can really see her frustration with being overlooked and having someone take credit for her work…
“Even though she's been passed over, outed, disrespected, she still shows up to work every single day. And it was actually an ad lib that I had in the first scene that you see me where the cop starts bothering me and I say, ‘I'm trying to work here.’ Because that just came out of me. You know what women have to go through at a workplace and being underestimated or interrupted.”
Have you ever had a situation where someone else took credit for your work?
“I have to say not often because in the beginning when it started to happen, I just started putting a stop to it. The first time it happened in the entertainment industry was that I had an idea for a music video, and I tell the artist's manager. He turns around and tells the record company my idea as if it was his own, and my mouth dropped when I saw the video. I just could not believe it. And I was like, ‘Oh, that's not going to happen again.’”
To be a part of this female-led movie must be an amazing feeling.
“Women are kicking ass in a mean, hardcore way. And a major studio is backing it. That's a major, major, major difference right now that a major studio like Warner Bros. said, ‘Yeah, let's put all the money behind this.’ It's fantastic, and that I'm a part of this phenomenon blows my freaking mind. It really does. Margot had to fight for this movie. She's an amazing executive producer. What she has done, I can't believe how hard this young woman works. It was really a pleasure to watch.”
Has Hollywood become more diverse and more open to giving women a chance?
“As a veteran here in this movie of 30 years plus, let's not forget all the women that have been in the industry doing everything that everyone has a spotlight on now. Women never stopped speaking up. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Because times are changing, Margot was able to get this project together. Let's all be respectful for the struggles and all the doors that all the fierce women before Margot have kicked down. And there's so many women that have been ostracized because they were like, ‘Listen, this is wrong, and we need to be in the right.’ This is an old fight. And we haven't won yet.”
Speaking of fighting, how did you prepare for all the action scenes?
“I got injured day one in training before we started shooting, so I had to shoot the entire film with a torn meniscus disc. It was very, very difficult for me, but I just used it, you know? I wasn't the only one that got injured. I just had the most serious injury.”
Did you have to do anything different?
“The size of the heels that I was wearing got shorter. The other thing is I didn't have to run around a lot on the spinning platform as much as the other girls did. I would have really blown out my knee and could have blown out the other one as well because I was over-compensating.”
How are you now?
“I'm okay, but the only way to repair a MCL is to have a knee replacement. And who has time for that, right. I just keep going to the gym and boxing and just do core strengthening and try to move passed it, but sometimes I wake up in the morning and it's like, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’ It's all right. There are worse things in life. I got to be in this amazing, amazing project because I didn't give up, so I'll take it.”
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is in theaters now