Harley Quinn
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Back in early February, before life as we knew it would end, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) burst onto the screen in a delightfully neon-colored, R-rated explosion. There was so much to love about the all-female comic book team-up starring Margot Robbie as the titular anarchic supervillain even before we collectively realized it would be one of the final "normal" moviegoing experiences we'd have for quite some time. Directed by Cathy Yan with a script by Christina Hodson, the DC Comics standalone outing followed Harley in the aftermath of finally ending things with Mr. J and forming her own merry band of misfit warrior women, criminal and cop alike. The movie's chaotic DGAF attitude mixed with unapologetic femininity was the perfect combination, resulting in badass fight scenes that pulled no punches (and required the use of hair ties) as well as surprisingly heartwarming moments of friendship and sisterhood.

But one seemingly throwaway scene introduced the sexiest character of the entire film — that now-famous egg sandwich. When Harley is at her lowest, she spends the last of her dollars on her favorite breakfast sandwich from her local bodega to lift her spirits, and it's not until she loses it in a street chase that she finally allows herself to feel all the emotion she's been holding back. When that perfect yolk breaks on the pavement, so does her heart.

EW spoke to Hodson about how that scene came together as a love letter to the perfect bacon, egg, and cheese and why Robbie couldn't actually eat the one made onscreen.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In thinking about all the best moments in pop culture from this insane year, I just kept coming back to that perfect egg sandwich scene.
CHRISTINA HODSON: [Laughs] Not going to lie, this is the randomest interview request of all time — and I was delighted. Do I want to talk about egg sandwiches? Sure! It's really just an under-discussed topic. This random thing actually means a lot to me and Margot.

That whole scene had me missing the days when I lived in New York and could get a delicious egg sandwich from the local bodega any time I wanted.
And everyone's local bodega is the best bodega sandwich. It's very important business.

Where did you get the idea to include such a sexy scene about a breakfast sandwich in the film?
Probably exactly what we were just talking about, which is that when I lived in New York and I was broke, I would wake up hungover every now and then — of course, not too often [laughs]. You wake up hungover, and the only thing in the world that will make everything right again is a bodega sandwich. And that feeling of, you don't have much money left, it's probably, like with Harley, your last three bucks or whatever, and it feels just like the most momentous and most important thing in the whole world, and that's your true passion. It was in the [script] outline from super early on, initially just as kind of a detail. And then [laughs] as we started working on the script, it became so clear that like, of course this is the most important thing to Harley in this moment. That is the be all and the end all!

Did you have a specific bodega sandwich in mind while you writing that scene?
Yes and no, a few. Although you'll notice, and people who care about egg sandwiches there's debate over this, the standard bodega egg sandwich is a scrambled egg. It's almost crepe-like and then folded over. But I'm a big believer in the sunny-side up and the soft egg yolk. And there was a place near my Brooklyn apartment that did that without you having to ask, it would be sunny-side up and it was so good. And the egg yolk when you cut it was just so perfect. That was the one that inspired me. I love a classic "scrambled egg" egg and cheese. But the sunny-side up is my true love.

I'm already getting hungry just talking about this, but walk me through the process of what it was like writing that scene and then actually getting to bring it to life onscreen. I love that it actually made it into the film and didn't get cut.
[Laughs] It's just so funny talking about this so seriously, I really love it! Initially it was in the outline, and then it was actually at a stage where Margot and I re-conceived a little bit what the outline and the pitch for the thing was going to be. And we went back to the studio with it. Because it's a multi-stranded narrative, each of these characters has their different moments. Helena Bertinelli's [Mary Elizabeth Winstead] chapter was called "The Mafia Princess," Renee's [Rosie Perez] chapter was called "The Cop." And then we got to the Harley section, and last minute had to give it a title and I was like, "And then this is 'The Egg Sandwich.'" Margot and I were sitting there giggling and the studio [execs] were like, "Huh. Okay!" [Laughs] And of course we began with the description of the egg, bacon, and cheese because that's the most important thing, you have to fall in love with it right alongside Harley. It was just about putting that detail in. Food documentaries were becoming massive, Jiro Dreams of Sushi was just becoming big, and I wanted to give it all of that, like, super high-end, classy, close-up sexiness, because for Harley, this is her high-end sushi. We put it all on the page and then Cathy took it as seriously as us and shot it [laughs] almost like a porno.

Harley Quinn
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

As funny as it is talking about this scene so seriously, the way that it was shot made it one of the standout moments from the entire movie — well, at least for me.
It was very important! The death of the egg sandwich was also super important. That was a difficult day on set because it was a crazy day, we was right at the end of shooting, we were trying to get like main unit stuff with Harley going up the fire escape, and then the second unit team was working with the super slow-mo camera, trying to shoot the perfect death. And it's really hard because you want the ingredients to splay out, but you also want the ingredients to look right. Like you can't have your slice of cheese not melted, but if it's too melted then it's going to be sticky so it was a whole thing. We threw a lot of sandwiches through the air, and then shot it in very, very serious, [laughs] very high-end slow motion, to get it just right. I remember being just such a pain in the ass, standing there like, "I'm the writer, I'm not meant to give notes," and I'd run over to Cathy and be like, "Cathy, can I please tell them that they really need to make the egg yolk bleed, because it's really important?" And then they'd have to cook softer egg yolks because it wasn't bleeding enough. [Laughs] It was pretty silly but also pretty important so I'm very pleased that other people take it seriously too.

It might be because 2020 hasn't given us as many film releases as a normal year would, but the death of that egg sandwich ranks up there as one of the most heartbreaking onscreen deaths I've maybe ever seen?
Right alongside The Godfather, right? Iconic. [Laughs] And the other funny thing is when we were shooting the egg sandwich stuff at the end where Margot finally gets to take a bite, she is actually allergic to chicken eggs. So we had to make loads of duck egg sandwiches, because [laughs] we couldn't poison Margot.

Wait, so everyone who thinks they've been making "The Birds of Prey Egg Sandwich" all year, they've been making it wrong if they haven't used duck eggs?
They kind of have, because the one that dies the beautiful, stunning death and the one that you see get made, that's a chicken egg sandwich. Because she never gets to take a bite! She almost does, she almost gets her teeth into it. But then she doesn't.

At what point did you realize a different kind of egg sandwich had to be made for Margot to actually eat onscreen?
I feed Margot a lot, that's how we first became friends [laughs]. We would do script meetings and the priority in meetings would be feeding. So I knew from early on that was going to be an issue [laughs]. But we also didn't know she was going to get to take a bite until pretty late on. That was a good happy ending that wasn't always there from the beginning.

What has surprised you about the reaction to that scene in all the time since the movie was released?
Just like the surprising amount of love. If you care about egg sandwiches and if you've ever lived in New York and you've ever had a local bodega that you had affection for, you really love it and you care about it and that's such a wonderful, lovely thing. There's always going to be people that don't love the film, but there's people that really, really love the film and there's people that really, really love that sandwich so that always makes me very happy.

Every time you have an egg sandwich now, do you automatically think about making this scene?
Do you know, I actually have not had a good bacon, egg, and cheese since we made that film because I haven't been in New York. And I don't want to have one here, it's going to be different.

That's true, no one makes 'em like they do in NYC.
It's the bread! The bread is not the same. If it's not on one of those bodega rolls, then it's not the same thing. And my only thing I would change about that sandwich in the movie is, personally — and this is very personal! Everyone is different [laughs] — I prefer, you know when they have those gross vats of butter and it's all like super soft and weird? In our one, we've got like liquid butter that he brushes on and then toasts it. I like it when they toast and then slather on the spreadable butter and it melts into the bread. [Sighs] Oh God, sorry. I'm thinking about it now and I just [laughs] want it so much.

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