Wonder Exclusive: A Q&A With Birds Of Prey’s Rosie Perez AKA Detective Renee Montoya
We get to know Rosie Perez and her character Detective Renee Montoya. Plus, she lets us in on the cast’s palpable chemistry on and off-screen
You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.
Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood, I, Tonya) returns as Harley Quinn, alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, TV’s Fargo) as Huntress; Jurnee Smollett-Bell (HBO’s True Blood) as Black Canary; Rosie Perez (Fearless, Pitch Perfect 2) as Renee Montoya; Chris Messina (Argo, TV’s Sharp Objects) as Victor Zsasz; and Ewan McGregor (Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep” the Trainspotting films) as Roman Sionis. Newcomer Ella Jay Basco also stars as Cassandra “Cass” Cain in her feature film debut.
We get to know one of the film’s badass cast of women, Rosie Perez and her character Detective Renee Montoya, a role originally intended for someone younger:
QUESTION: What drew you to this project?
ROSIE PEREZ: Outside of the badass-ness of it all, the women kicking ass, and it being on a level of a real action-packed project, was the message of emancipation. I thought that that was really, really strong, so that’s why I really wanted to be part of it.
QUESTION: Tell me about Renee. What drew you to her specifically?
ROSIE PEREZ: Well, the thing that I always connected with, even prior to this project, was that what’s right is right, and that she was always fighting for justice. In my personal life I’m always fighting for justice, and the difference between Renee Montoya and myself—the big difference, I would say—is that there’s not a lot of gray area with her. What’s fascinating about this project is she allows the gray area to come into play when she decides to team up with anti-heroes, specifically Harley Quinn.
QUESTION: Because, as a cop, she is very familiar with who Harley is.
ROSIE PEREZ: Yes, she is, so it’s a big surprise, even to Renee. And for comedic effect it was, you know, “Who’s in?” and Renee Montoya goes, “With you?” But she understands how fierce and strong and fearless Harley Quinn is as well. And I think that even though originally Renee Montoya was intended to be much younger than I am, I think that my delivery of that line, at my age, actually worked even better, because when you get older you understand there are gray areas in life and that you have to work with it.
QUESTION: And she’s no rookie, she really has put in her time and has fought for a long time within the ranks.
ROSIE PEREZ: Yes. And that’s what I love about her. I remember, even when I first thought of getting into the entertainment business, I said initially, “How come there aren’t enough roles for people of color? Why is it so seemingly racist and sexist?” And I remember way back when, in the late 80s/ early 90s, everyone was telling me to shut up. And I said no, I will not. “Well, it’s gonna hurt your career.” So what? What’s right is right. And it’s funny, 30+ years later, they’ve all come around. Now everybody says it, you know what I mean? So I immediately connected with Renee Montoya. She’s in a job where she’s so easily dismissed and laughed at because of her high moral code and discredited and discounted for her ability to do her job well, and she’s probably one of the most intelligent people on the force. But because of her gender, that is not acknowledged, appreciated or rewarded.
QUESTION: Being a cop is a hard enough job and it’s only made harder by all of those other things. On top of that, isn’t she sort of alone on an island there, trying hard just to get through a day?
ROSIE PEREZ: Yes. And to do well. And she finally finds the courage, being inspired—much to her surprise—by Harley Quinn and the other women to say, “You know what? It’s fine. Okay. Gotham PD doesn’t want me anymore. Fine. I’m going vigilante. I’m still gonna fight for justice. I’m still going to go after the bad guys, and I’m still going to do what is right for the citizens of Gotham.” I think that’s so admirable.
QUESTION: Tell me about working with Margot and Jurnee and Elizabeth and Ella. Such a great cast.
ROSIE PEREZ: The girls are wonderful.
QUESTION: You really have great chemistry together, all of you, on-screen.
ROSIE PEREZ: Oh, thank you. And it was off-screen too. Though they blamed me a lot for the partying aspect! (LAUGHS) But I remember telling them, I said, “You know, if you don’t know it already, I’m gonna tell you something. You have to enjoy the process while the process is ongoing. You have to find the fun. Because moments like this, all of us hanging out in my trailer and having drinks after work is going to stick with you, and you’re going to appreciate the project even more.”
QUESTION: The friendship, the bonding?
ROSIE PEREZ: The bonding, yes. Because I told them, I said, “Not all actors do this. Not all projects offer this camaraderie. Usually after takes we go back into our trailers or say goodnight, hug and kiss and say, ‘Oh, this was great, we bonded.’ No! This is what bonding is.” And even on our time off, Jurnee and Mary Elizabeth, we hung out a lot. Margot couldn’t always join us because she was so busy as a producer, but every single time she goes, “I’m going to try to be there,” so she was pretty fantastic in that sense.
QUESTION: Since you mention it, how was working with Margot as a producer as well as castmate?
ROSIE PEREZ: Margot as a boss was beyond impressive. Beyond impressive, how she never made you feel less than, she never made you feel like, “I’m the boss and that’s it.” She was always accessible. She always had an answer, even if it was “I don’t know yet, I will find that out for you.” And she would come back with the answer that you needed. And she was very, very clear in regard to where we needed to be within the script, and also just being able to pick up the phone after work and talk to her. It was fantastic.
QUESTION: What do you want audiences to experience when they see the film?
ROSIE PEREZ: Fun. Fun, fun, fun. Get in your seats, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’m hoping for them.
#BirdsOfPrey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, is now showing in theaters.
Special thanks to Warner Bros.
Art Alexandra Lara