Gemma Chan has said that the “most important thing” she looks for in films is that their female characters are “fully drawn and fully realised”.
Speaking on the red carpet at the European premiere of Mary Queen Of Scots, the 36-year-old praised lead actresses Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan for giving the film a “female gaze”.
She told the Press Association: “Gosh, it was a wonderful experience. Having Josie [Rourke] directing us, Margot and Saoirse are such talented actresses and having that female gaze and having that female perspective, you really see that through the film.
“You see female bodily functions that are natural but shown in quite an unsparing way but that’s the reality of what women go through. That definitely makes a difference.”
Chan plays Bess of Hardwick, the closest female confidante of Elizabeth I (Robbie), who she described as “a formidable character” and a “survivor”.
Asked whether she looks for a female presence in her films, Chan replied: “It doesn’t have to be a female director or a female writer, but just looking for that balance and making sure that female characters are fully drawn and fully realised, that’s the most important thing for me.”
Chan, who shot to fame after starring in box office hit Crazy Rich Asians, added that the tale of women pitted against one another by the men around them was “resonant” with current times.
She added: “Elizabeth and Mary, they weren’t mortal enemies for the most part. They really tried to coexist.
“There was a lot of love between them, and it was the men around them that tried to pit them against each other. I found that kind of sad, but also it feels very resonant for our times.”
Mary Queen Of Scots is due for release in the UK on January 18 2019.