By Henry Barajas
The Hollywood & Highland Center has been re-imagined by the chaotic mind that is Harley Quinn in a new pop-up celebrating Birds of Prey. Warner Bros. launched its immersive courtyard experience, Harleywood & Vine, near the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday night, and the event will open to the public this weekend.
Amid Los Angeles’ most premier influencers getting their hair dyed to show off Splat’s new Harley Quinn-influenced colors and makeup glow up, the film’s costume designer, Billie Valentine, showed off her movie-inspired jewelry that features a dog tag with ‘Bruce’ engraved in the middle. Hot Topic showcased its Birds of Prey apparel with Black Mask Club and Birds of Prey jackets that look like they walked off the movie set. The Funko BOP-inspired pieces of Harley Quinn, Incognito Harley Quinn, Cassandra, Black Canary, Huntress, Detective Renee Montoya, and Roman Sionis received the glass case treatment. If makeup, clothes, or Funkos aren’t your jam, Triumph Motorcycles had its Street Triple RS model—that can be seen on the big screen—parked by the La Croix and hummus.
Even though Harleywood & Vine wasn’t an official red carpet ceremony, it felt that way when director Cathy Yan and the main Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) cast members showed up after the gaggle of Harleys rollerbladed and danced on the stage. Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ella Jay Basco, Ewan McGregor, and Chris Messina launched a medley of fireworks, streamers, and party lights before rushing through the crawling Hollywood Blvd traffic to the Dream Hotel in a double-decker bus.
The cast and crew made themselves very available for a roundtable Q&A with all your favorite press outlets. At the same time, guests were enjoying Pink Puddin’ snacks and getting their initials embroidered on pairs of complementary black leather gloves.
Basco and Yan described working on Birds of Prey as “humbling and surreal” when it comes to the amount of diversity in this film.
“It’s a great responsibility,” Yan added. “Hopefully, the movie is just good—and you can just talk about it as a really great fun movie, and it just so happens to have a female Asian director and Asian female lead.”
But 13-year-old Basco wasn’t afraid to speak what was on her mind. “I think it should’ve happened sooner — but it’s such an honor to be apart of this,” Basco confessed.
“We wanted to diversify age range as well,” Robbie said. “We’re an eclectic group. But we’re a group that represents the world around us.”
When it comes to the look and feel of Birds of Prey, it’s evident that screenwriter Christina Hodson, Yan, and Robbie were looking to tap into what Harley became during DC Comics’ New 52 launch.
“When we talked about the look of this movie, we wanted it to feel almost like a comic, so it has that kind of colorful, tactile quality to it,” Yan said.
“Margot and I very early in the process went to the DC library about four years ago—and we just took stacks of comics home, ” Hodson recalled. “She did loads of research on Harley for Suicide Squad. We went on a deep dive in the Birds of Prey.” Hodson admitted that Chuck Dixon‘s, Amanda Conner‘s, and Jimmy Palmiotti‘s work helped shape the script.
It’s too early to confirm, but there might be more going on between McGregor’s and Messina’s Black Mask and Zsasz characters: “I think my character is in love with every living thing,” Messina said.
“There was lots of complexity in our relationship,” McGregor intervened. “It was incredibly fun to discover. It’s not just to do with sex, but it’s much more to do with power and need.”
Of course, their Variety interview might have confirmed everyone’s sneaking suspicions.
— Variety (@Variety) January 24, 2020
The race bending of Black Canary played by Smollett-Bell was something Robbie and Hodson wanted to do since the first draft of the script.
“It felt right to me. I wanted to do it. Warner [Bros.] has been wonderful and supportive—and no one ever questioned it,” Hodson said.
Smollett-Bell shared that she was hip to Black Canary before she was cast from playing the Injustice 2 fighting game by NetherRealm Studios. “I went back to the comics. I read all the Birds of Prey comics—and I tried to read as many of the Black Canary comics [as I could],” Smollett-Bell said. Black Canary’s always ever-changing continuity and origin stories were overwhelming at first, but, Smollett-Bell feels that they gleaned enough from the source material that honored the story they were trying to tell.
Birds of Prey isn’t Robbie’s first time in Gotham, but it’s not the same city we’ve seen her in before. “It has been so fascinating I’ve played Harley twice now with two different filmmakers,” Robbie said. “It’s so fun and interesting to see what characteristics of [Harley] each filmmaker gravitates towards and what version of Gotham they’re trying to portray while trying to honor the source material.”
After trying to get the character right, Robbie is proud of the influence she has created: “It is so wild to see how the comics are starting to reflect the version of Harley that I’ve played on screen before.”
The party was topped with the actual Birds of Prey, introducing Charlotte Lawrence and Megan Thee Stallion to perform tracks from the upcoming soundtrack.
The party on the Dream Hotel rooftop may have ended, but you can still enjoy the Harleywood & Vine experience until 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. It opens to the public on Friday, Jan. 24. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.