A town of women vying for the love of a prince. A mansion of singles hoping to be chosen by a man. It’s a tale as old as time, thanks to movies like “Cinderella” and shows like “The Bachelor.” But “Daisy Jones and the Six” does the opposite — the women are a unit.
“From Disney movies that came out when we were tiny, that’s what we were seeing,” says Riley Keough, who portrays rockstar Daisy Jones in the Amazon Prime Video adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book, which flipped that trope on its head.
It was that reason why I chose the women of “Daisy Jones and the Six” for our Women of Awards Season issue. Keough, Suki Waterhouse and Camila Morrone aren’t in competition. Even their characters, three independent women fighting for success and love, weren’t in competition — and two were in love with the same man.
“Even though they both wanted the same thing, it never made either character put the other one down. There was just kind of this love and admiration,” says Morrone, who portrayed the Camila Dunne, the wife of Billy, the lead guitarist and singer of the fictional band in the series, the Six. “I think Daisy had all the qualities that Camila could never have and can never compete with. And Camila had all these qualities that Daisy could never have and could never compete with. They both brought something so different to his life. But in real life, it’s so hard to reconcile with — knowing that somebody else can love someone the way that you can’t or can bring something to your life that you could never amount to, or never even compete with.”
Still, in real life, that’s exactly what they do. All three women are working actresses, “all fighting for the same thing,” she continues. “But there’s such an uplifting spirit between all of us, wanting your friends to succeed even though technically we’re all competitors. There’s such a deep love, even in this friendship.”
It’s a friendship that is impossible to ignore during our interview, as many times, one of the actors will answer for another. For example, when discussing similarities to each character, Keough can’t help but note that Waterhouse is “naturally cool,” much like Karen. Morrone agrees: “She’s very smart. She’s very effortless. Suki exudes coolness that you can’t have. It’s something that you’re born with. And she’s quite feminist.”
Waterhouse speaks up when it’s time to talk about Keough’s alignment with Daisy. “You have a big fire burning inside of you all times. Even if it’s quiet — it’s very, very loud,” she says. “In the same way as Daisy, you never really know what Riley’s thinking. There’s a mystery to both. It’s very contained.”
It’s a comment that Morrone agrees with — and stumps Keough.
“I don’t even know what that means,” she laughs as her co-stars explain it’s a compliment — that people want to be liked by her. Ultimately, they conclude: Keough is comfortable in the silence. She’s never trying to overcompensate.
“It’s funny because I think the way you perceive yourself is so different to how other people perceive you,” says Keough. “I just perceive something totally different. I’m not mysterious, I’m just very normal.”
This naturally leads to a chat about the many misconceptions about the actors. But first, another actor who knows a thing or two about being in the business for years, interrupts. Adam Scott is in the Variety office for another story — he’s on the Emmy-contending comedy “Party Down” this year — and pops his head in to say hi and tell all the women he’s a huge fan of the show.
“We’re honored you know who we are,” Keough says. He responds that he’s been listening to the album and he’s so impressed. After he leaves the room, the women excitedly giggle and tell me, “We’re not chill!”
But in a way, they are. They’ve all been in the spotlight for years for many different reasons. Keough, the granddaughter of Elvis Presley and daughter of the late Lisa Marie Presley, is used to the fame — it’s all she’s ever known.
But just because she grew up in it doesn’t mean she’s a regular at Hollywood nightclubs. In fact, she spends most of her time on the couch.
“I think that people think I’m very serious. I’m a kind of dork. I’m really like a nerd,” she says, knowing that sometimes her timidness can read as her being cold. “I can just be quiet.” Her co-stars agree; sometimes, it can come off that she’s cold or uninterested, but that’s the not case.
For Waterhouse, she’s unsure if people know how much of a workhorse she is. “She’s the hardest working person. The first thing I say about Suki is she is a boss in every sense of the word,” Morrone chimes in. “Her creative life, her professional life in every capacity, Suki is running the show in the very best way. I think the Suki has come to a point in her life where she knows exactly what she wants and will set limits and boundaries and go after it.”
Keough can easily relate. “When you’re a girl or a model or that type of a girl in this industry, people have an assumption that you’re not a businesswoman. Unless you’re like, ‘I’m a boss,’ people assume that you’re not,” she says.
Sometimes, each of their personal lives affect that as well. All three women have been in relationships with A-listers in the past or present. It’s not something I mention in the interview, but when discussing misconceptions, Keough brings it up.
“Something that I found really upsetting when we were doing press, there were times where I would see headlines with both of them that were like, ‘ex’ or ‘blank person’s girlfriend,’” she says. “I just felt so irritated. I really felt like I wanted to tweet about it or something, but I just kept my mouth shut. So, I saved it for this moment, but that’s the other kind of thing that I think is a real misconception — that you’re somebody’s plus-one or arm candy. You’re not a hard-working woman that’s doing her own thing. That was something I witnessed that I just found to be so repulsive.”
It’s rare that a male actor is referred to as the woman’s accessory, something we all agree on.
“They’re not saying ‘Suki Waterhouse’s boyfriend,’” notes Keough. Waterhouse adds, “They would never even ask a man a question like that about an ex-lover.”
Luckily, these women are focused on work — and it hasn’t been easy.
“This business is tough, and it’s cutthroat and we’re all trying,” says Morrone, who admits that sometimes it’s difficult to stay positive. “I see actors going up and winning Oscars and going, ‘Remember to believe in yourself.’ But holy shit, that is a hard thing to remember on the day when you get the call that you didn’t get the job and you’ve gotten 20 ‘nos’ in a row. At least emotionally, I think I have a good relationship to self but it’s very hard to constantly believe in myself and it’s an ongoing process. I don’t believe in myself every moment of every day. But I commit to it, and I keep moving forward. I put my head down and do the work, but it’s harder said than done.”
Luckily, they keep moving forward with the help of each other.
After the limited series wrapped, viewers begged for more — or maybe, a tour. It’s an idea the cast have discussed, but it’s nearly impossible to get everyone’s schedules to align.
“At some point, the curtain has to close on ‘Daisy Jones and the Six,’” says Waterhouse. “If we were going to do a tour, I’d love to do three dates at a Madison Square Garden.”
For now, viewers must say goodbye to Daisy, Camila and Karen — but Keough, Morrone and Waterhouse will take them with them.
For Keough, she’ll carry the “childhood wonder” she brought to Daisy with her each day.
“That’s something that I personally try to live in,” she says. “Working with that concept for that long, it just refreshed that in my mind.”
Life imitated art for Morrone: “There were a lot coming-of-age lessons learned with this character and this transition into my womanhood, who I want to be as a woman, what I represent as a woman, what I stand for as a woman, what I believe in as a woman.”
Waterhouse’s remarks are similar; she’s been given “so many gifts” from Karen — especially in the way she put her passions first.
“Karen had quite an unconventional life as a woman and I really appreciate getting to play her and show a woman with an unconventional life who didn’t say yes to the guy, didn’t have the baby, decided to [focus on] her career,” Waterhouse says. “We saw someone that made all the decisions that she wanted to and was very peaceful. And I think it’s a reminder to me and I take that with me to just keep listening to myself, as I kind of navigate my career moving forward and my personal life as well and how to mix those together. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do as a woman, obviously, with the things that were touched on with Karen and the right time to have children.”