Sally Hawkins stars"Made in Dagenham," the story of the 1968 Ford Dagenham sexual discrimination strike. The film, directed by Nigel Cole and also starring Miranda Richardson and Bob Hoskins, is being released by Sony Pictures Classics on November 19.
Sally Hawkins, who plays Rita, went to the site of the old factory in Dagenham as part of her research.
“It?s really sad, like an old ghost town,” she says. “But it?s so interesting because that area is steeped in history. People flocked to Dagenham in the 1960s because of Ford. The factory created thousands of jobs. I like doing research so I wanted to meet the women, especially as the story and my character are so rooted in reality. The women were really lovely, and Billy Ivory?s screenplay jumps off the page because he really captured their voices. To play Rita, I had to put myself in their way of thinking. It made me realize how lucky, as women, we are now. Women today have so many opportunities that these women certainly didn't.”
For Hawkins, the 40-day shoot was a lot of fun. “I made some really good friends on this film,” she smiles. “That sense of female camaraderie and friendship is pretty rare on a film set and, on this one, it's so important. The women of the factory looked out for each other because they loved each other, and we tried to foster that relationship on set too. The other actresses are a bunch of lovely, brilliant women, who really embodied the parts and made them real. I have never laughed so much on set. And the men were great too: Danny Mays, who plays my husband, is really lovely and passionate about what he does. And Nigel Cole is just gorgeous: brilliant and funny. He was so willing to keep exploring and pushing us all. I was happy to have him steering the ship because you need to have complete trust in the people you?re working with and I had that on this set.”