I love a lady who's not afraid to shake things up, and there are plenty of strong women on The Last Tycoon, which premiered July 28 on Amazon. From Celia (Lily Collins), Pat Brady’s ambitious daughter, to Kathleen (Dominique McElligott) the pretty waitress who has caught Monroe Stahr’s eye, these ladies won’t be held down, and they’re adept at standing up for themselves. My favorite "broad," as it were, on the show is definitely famed actor Margot Taft, as played by Jennifer Beals. Is Margo Taft based on a real actor? Geez, I sure hope so, because she's a badass.
The big-time movie star doesn’t come into the picture on The Last Tycoon until Episode 3, when Pat Brady is trying to convince her to join a film his company, Brady-American, is producing. Brady needs this — he has no movie and is about to be bailed out by either a) the Nazis (not a great choice) or b) his nemesis (also not great). He’s chosen the lesser of two evils (not the Nazis), but he’s still not happy, and he needs a big name to anchor the film that has to make him money. Beals plays Margo beautifully, and I have to say, this gal has chutzpah. Gumption, to fit the slang of the time.
Not only does Margo demand a percentage of the box office grosses (hello, destroying the wage gap), but she tells Brady that she won’t do the film without them. She says they can sleep together or she can do the movie and get all her demands, but both won’t happen, so he can choose wisely. Another of Margot’s demands — that she won’t do a movie without getting — is that she meets privately with the director of the film so he can drop trou and show her his member. That's some tradition.
Brady needs the cash and agrees to all of this, and when the time comes, Margot stops Brady's director before he can embarrass himself. When chastised by Monroe for her behavior, Margot explains — she was brought to Hollywood as a 16–year-old, and her manager literally pimped her out. She wasn’t a working actress. She was forced to be a working girl, and when she became famous, she began pulling these stunts to even the balance of power.
All of this is pretty extreme, except for the part about demanding the money. And in my research, I couldn’t find any '30s actor who was known for demanding anything quite like that. I’m sure these salacious stories existed in Hollywood in this era, but they've died before anyone could tell them. Anyway, Margo is a woman all her own, and though I think it’s disrespectful (as Monroe does) to force directors to disrobe in front of her, I get the actor's point. She has been abused, and now she is getting back at the system that did her wrong. Margo knows what she wants on The Last Tycoon, and she’s not afraid to get it.