The movie adaptation of Billie Jean King's legendary tennis match against Bobby Riggs, Battle of the Sexes, is doing great with critics; however, there's one audience member who wasn't too pleased by what he saw. Larry King weighed on the film, which is based on the true story of his ex-wife, but he says it's based pretty loosely in reality.
Larry King was married to Billie Jean (Emma Stone) at the time of the match depicted in Battle of the Sexes. The tennis itself is a recreation of televised events, as well as the promotional antics of Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), so they hold pretty true to reality. What's not accurate, according to Larry King, is the sub-plot about Billie Jean's lesbian affair with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough).
"It is all total BS," he told DailyMail this week, "90 percent fiction."
King, who is played by Austin Stowell in the movie, takes issue especially with the film's twist on how and when he learned about his wife's infidelity. The movie shows a shrewd Larry King figuring out the affair shortly after it started, then swallowing his pride and standing by his wife and her new partner, as she goes out to make feminist history on the tennis court.
In reality, Billie Jean hid her relationship and her sexual preference for eight years following the match with Bobby Riggs. It was Billie Jean herself who confessed to Larry King, when Barnett later tried to extort the tennis star.
King says that he watched the premiere alongside his ex-wife, who shook her head along with him at the inaccuracies. "That’s okay, it’s not supposed to be a documentary," he said. "It’s pure Hollywood."
One thing that is accurate is Larry King's capacity for forgiveness and understanding. In reality, he did stand beside his wife when she became the first professional female athlete to be publicly outed for her sexuality. He also remains friends with her, and her new partner — they're even the godparents to King's children.
"A human being can love more than one person at a time," King said, when asked about that forgiveness. "Yes, I was her husband, but I wasn’t hurt. The only pain I felt was for Billie Jean, who was suffering."
He went on to acknowledge that the novelty of the situation might have played a part in his compassion. "Maybe if Billie Jean had been with a guy I might have been hurt," he said. "So I was sexist, too."
Battle of the Sexes premiered in U.S. theaters in September. Check out the trailer below.