Geena Davis is a Hollywood heavyweight, both on and off the screen.
The Oscar-winning star of "The Accidental Tourist," "Thelma & Louise" and "A League of Their Own" returns to the small screen in the third season of Netflix '80s-set dramedy "GLOW" (streaming now), in which the show's ragtag group of female wrestlers start a Las Vegas residency after losing their TV gig.
Davis joins the cast as savvy hotel manager Sandy Deveraux St. Clair, a former showgirl who doles out professional and personal advice to star wrestlers Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin).
Also this weekend, Davis appears in documentary "This Changes Everything" (in theaters in New York and Los Angeles Friday, expanding to additional theaters and video-on-demand platforms Aug. 16), which tackles the under- and misrepresentation of women in entertainment. It's an important cause for the actress, who has long-advocated for gender equality through her Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Davis, 63, spoke to USA TODAY about both projects, and more.
Question: Were you a "GLOW" fan before coming on for Season 3?
Geena Davis: I was definitely a big fan. And obviously, I love women and there’s a ton of great women in front of the camera and behind. That was a big appeal and probably a big reason that I was such a fan of the show, because it's not only fabulous entertainment, but it hits all the right notes.
Q: Does having a predominantly female cast and creative team create a different atmosphere on set?
Davis: It does. The more diverse a group is, the more creative, successful and productive it is. They've done research that companies with more women on the board make more money. It doesn't seem to spur people to make dramatic change even though there's a financial incentive, but it certainly is true. And there's definitely a different vibe when it's mostly women. I always say men don't know what we're like when we're alone. It's really, really true. We have a special way of relating with each other, and that's very inspiring.
Q: What drew you to Sandy as a character?
Davis: I loved that she was a former showgirl, because in some alternate universe I was a former showgirl. It was something I was always fascinated with. It's just a great, fun character, and she's inspirational to the girls on the team because she was in show business and then carved a career out for herself in management. So she's an example of what life can be after. Plus, she has this fabulous name, Sandy Devereaux St. Clair. That was a big part of it for me, too.
Q: In one episode, Ruth and Debbie decide to swap their respective wrestling personas, Zoya the Destroya and Liberty Belle. Is there another character from your past films that you wish you could've played?
Davis: When I first read "Thelma & Louise," I thought I should play Louise. I was convinced of that. My acting coach said, "You're getting to a place in your career where you should be the more mature character," but we were wrong. The second I met Susan Sarandon, I was like, "Well, obviously, she should play Louise and I should be Thelma," because our relationship was just like that instantly. I looked up to her and admired her tremendously, and she's the cool, steady hand. So that was one instance where I was also attracted to the other part.
Listen to this week's episode of USA TODAY's podcast, The Mothership, to hear Britney Young a.k.a Carmen Wade discuss "Glow" season three in the player below.
Q: A comprehensive study you commissioned on gender bias in children's media found that 72% of speaking characters were male in G-rated films released between 1990 and 2004. Who were some of the women you remember watching as a kid?
Davis: In my childhood, I didn't really see any characters that I could identify with or that I wanted to grow up to be like. My best friend and I would get together every day after school and act out scenes from TV Westerns in her backyard, and it never occurred to us that there weren't female characters that we wanted to pretend to be.
Q: In "This Changes Everything," Chloe Grace Moretz recounts an appalling anecdote about a director leaving bra padding in her trailer for her when she was just 16. Do you recall any similar experiences as a young actress?
Davis: There's probably a million examples. One was very early on: I was auditioning for a part where in one scene, my character was going to be sitting on the lap of the male character. The director said, "Just act the scene out with me" and made me sit on his lap. It was kind of a sexy scene. I didn't want to do it, and I was very uncomfortable, but I didn't know you could say no. So hopefully in the time of #MeToo and Time's Up, women aren't going to have to suffer through that. It's pretty standard that you don't meet alone with a man in a private room or hotel suite anymore, but plenty of that stuff goes on and has gone on for a long time.
Q: Two of your earliest movies, "Tootsie" and "Beetlejuice," were adapted into Broadway musicals this past year. Have you seen them yet?
Davis: I haven't, but I really, really want to. Also, a few years ago, "The Fly" was made into an opera. Perhaps everything I've ever been in is going to be turned into something else. (Laughs.)
Q: What's another film of yours that you think should get the musical treatment?
Davis: Well, somebody told me they heard that they're working on a "League of Their Own" musical. I was thinking, "What happens with the baseballs? You can't really hit balls out into the audience."
Q: Aside from the musical, Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”) and Will Graham (“Mozart in the Jungle”) are adapting "A League of Their Own" as a half-hour Amazon series. Have you spoken to them about it?
Davis: Yes, I have been talking with them. I'm planning to be involved with it in some (producer) capacity, which I'm very excited about.
Q: Is there a chance you'll make a cameo?
Davis: I don't know. When they make a remake and they get the original people to do cameos, I sometimes feel a little sad. (Laughs.) Because they used to be a big deal and now they get to be a little deal, and I don’t know. I don't think I'd do that.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Geena Davis on joining Netflix's 'GLOW,' 'uncomfortable' #MeToo moment