Over the past 3 years Emma Stone has slowly but surely cemented herself as one of the most promising young actors in Hollywood. Her big break was in the 2007 comedy Superbad, and from there she starred in hit after hit including The House Bunny and Zombieland. This year, she’s taking center stage as the star of an unconventional teen comedy called Easy A.
The film centers on a high school girl who lies about her sexual escapades and gets crucified by the student body because of it. We recently got the opportunity to sit down and talk with Stone about her first headlining role and her experiences during the shoot. She also spoke about her heroes and career influences, as well as her upcoming project The Help, which is based on a best selling and acclaimed novel of the same name. No pressure there…
This script for Easy A takes everything we already know and gives it a wonderful spin. What is it about the writing that you think makes it so fresh?
Emma Stone: Bert V. Royal, I just think is so fantastic and saw Olive — that character was so fleshed out on the page and her perspectives were so fleshed out on the page that my only challenge was trying to do that justice, and I don’t know that I did. It’s so great in writing. I loved his outlook and how clever he was and how witty he was about issues that are really important and it’s not pandering. It’s not talking down to anybody, it’s real things that we deal with, it just happened to be set in high school through a high school girl’s eyes. Everything about it was just fantastic, and on top of it, funny.
ES: From what I saw, the subject of gossip; the subject about judging a book by its cover without knowing the whole story as true as it may seem because Olive is lying. She’s lying about all of this and telling everyone that it’s true so how would you know that it wasn’t? It does make you think that sometimes people might perpetuate something because they feel like they want to be something. It talks about extremism, the “Cross Your Heart Club” is so extremely something. Their beliefs are so set. They’re not really antagonists. Marianne isn’t really an antagonists because those are her beliefs. That’s what she truly believes to be the case.
Olive isn’t making her belief any differently, she’s only firming up that belief. Olive takes her whole situation to such an extreme too with the corsets and the As. It’s not simple on either side. And technology and how it travels now and the speed of everything. Somebody can send out a mass e-mail and it’s interesting probably to talk to Penn too, this was an interesting thing for me to talk to him about, he’s on a show that kind of covers that same idea, that everyone gets a text message and it’s gossip. Everyone’s looking at a character differently.
Olive gets paid with pretty awesome gift certificates for her non-sex services. If the economy got so bad that your job started paying in certificates, which store would you pick?
ES: One store. Target. Because you can get anything. It’s kinda got it all. That’s pretty much. I’m in Mississippi right now, shooting and there’s a Wal-Mart Super Center which I go to like every other day. So maybe Wal-Mart Super Center. You gotta pick something that covers all the basics. If you get only one store, how the hell are you going to eat?
This cast has such well-respected actors, is there anything you learned from them in terms of your craft?
ES: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson were my three favorite days of shooting. They’ve been really good friends for I think 20-years. They had this rapport. So the way they ad-lib together and work together is just fantastic. They show you how to ‘just be’. Acting should be so simple. And it’s so simple their approach to it, it’s just so good and so honest.
What’s you’re relationship with Lisa Kudrow? It seems all your deepest scenes are with her.
ES: That’s funny. There’s a moment in Paper Man too. I just think she’s a genius. Anyone that’s seen her do comedy knows that she has a style of her own. I think the greatest thing about any one particular comedian is how unique they are, they don’t remind you of anyone else and Lisa is her own brand of hilarious. She’s so smart. You know how smart she is, right? She’s an such an intelligent woman. She’s a scientist. She’s a really interesting lady. Have you seen [her show], “Who do you think you are?” It’s really interesting.
Can you talk about the importance of chemistry between you and Penn?
ESt: The love interest is a big important thing; we’ve all seen movies where that doesn’t work out. That’s always a sheer struck of luck. He’s such a great guy and such a normal human being, and so interesting and has a lot of great perspectives. He’s really smart and really funny and it made it easy.
Did Will Gluck ever tell you to shut the fuck up? Because apparently he told Penn to shut the fuck up on set — but in a funny way.
ES: Yes. If Will was here, you guys would want to strangle us both. It’s the worst. I love him. Don’t tell him I ever said that because it’s like, constant. Shut the fuck up, is a constant. But I said that to him all the time. Like, Emma go again, shut up Will, you shut the fuck up, go again. It’s awful. You should see the behind the scenes DVD. I saw some of the clips, it’s me like hitting him, he knocks sandwiches out of my hands, it’s awful.
Did that happen during the audition process?
ES: Right from the very beginning it was like, ‘Why do you look like you’re sixteen?’ He was like,’ Why are you such a bitch?’ He’s the best. It’s really great for me, and Pen has the same kind of sense of humor. Will will not be like that. He knows his audience. It was my favorite thing. It keeps you on your toes. He calls me out on everything. He doesn’t let anything slide. If I’m like, ‘Oh that sucked, [he says] ‘that did suck, go again. What was that?’ I’m like Will. It’s fantastic. I like people that are honest and mess with you because it pushes you to be better, it’s like a sibling. I love being made fun off. I like dishing it if the person can take it.
Did Bill Murray or Woody Harrelson make fun of you during Zombieland?
ES: Pretty much anyone that knows me well enough is constantly making fun of me, yeah. I give it back sometimes. When I’m not crying.
Talk about the Easy A shooting experience. What do you do?
ES: I didn’t know I was such a micro manager, but I am. I didn’t really go out and do too much stuff. I had be up first every day and was there ’til the end every day. In my spare time I tried to sleep. Which I wasn’t doing too much of anyway. It was an interesting experience, it was nice when Penn was in town. We would go out to dinner and I would hang out with people on set, but for the most part I was solitary. People came and went. The only person I really got to spend time with was Will, which was great.
How do you feel about having your own spontaneous musical number?
ES: That was –I felt probably the way Olive felt, it was simultaneously thrilling and humiliating to be doing that in front of your peers. You’re in lingerie with a boa popping out of a barrel of wood and dancing with trombones. When you think about it too much it’s terrifying. But it was actually pretty great.
How did you feel about your wardrobe?
ES: Well, I brought it all from home from my private collection. It was nice. It’s usually in an exhibit at the MoMA. You all know about my famous … it’s like Jay Leno’s cars. (laughs)
You get to cover all the great romantic heroes. Are there any romantic films that have your informed your idea of what a relationship should be?
ES: I related to Olive so much in wanted to feel like a movie. I mean, what I do for a living. My childhood dream. I just want my life to be like a movie. It feels different when you’re shooting, than having life be one. Yeah, Lloyd Dobler [John Cusack's character in Say Anything]. To know him is to love him. Isn’t that the tag line in the movie? Lloyd Dobler is such a dream-boat. And also, this is really messed up. My ultimate movie crush of all time. You’re going to know my type. Harold, from Harold and Maude. I’m not joking, like full on attraction to him.
You’re such a Scorpio.
ES: I’m such a Scorpio. I know. With the scene with the statue, I’m just like, ‘Oh my God Harold.’ I get it. I get it. .
IS there anybody in the future you’d like to work with? Or do you have a dream role?
ES: No dream role. I mean, Olive was pretty exciting. The Help right now, Skeeter is pretty exciting. Everything I’ve gotten to do I’ve been incredibly lucky. There’s a huge amount of people I would like to work with. Yesterday I was thinking back at the list of people I’ve gotten to work with and it’s staggering to think of how lucky I’ve been and the people I’ve gotten to meet. I mean Bill Murray, what? What?!
And when you’re doing a movie like The Help which is based on this phenomenal best seller, do you worry how the movie will stack up?
ES: As a fan of the book, of course. We’re all really big fans of the book. That’s a concern. Kathryn Stockett, the author of the book is best friend’s with our director. They’ve known each other since they were kids. She was around when they were writing the book. Some of the character in the book, I didn’t realize, Kathryn had met these actors because they had been friends of Tate Taylor and she had partially based some of the characters off of these actors that are playing the parts, which is unbelievable. You meet Octavia and she reminds you of Minnie, and then you hear that Kathryn thought of her when she was writing Minnie. That so amazing that she’s playing Minnie then. And then Viola Davis is, you don’t even realize. She’s wow! Get ready, She’s so incredible.
These people are incredible. It’s been, thus far, such an unbelievable experience. It’s beautiful. We’re shooting in Mississippi and I know everyone is trying to stay as true to these characters as they possibly can. It’s 1963. We all got a tape from Tate which is called Eyes on the Prize. It’s a really incredible six-part PBS documentary about civil rights, it’s just amazing. It’s amazing being in Mississippi and getting to go to Miss where James Meredith, where all of that happened. We’ve learned so much about the time period and the importance of the story we’re telling. We’re all really happy to be there.
When you were growing up were there people who really influenced you as a comedic actor?
ES: Steve Martin was big one. Gilda Radner really only made like Haunted Honeymoon, but I loved, loved SNL, and I watched a really large amount Steve Martin movies and John Hughes movies. That was my dad. He’s a classic comedy fan. Classic meaning 70s and 80s comedies. As I got older I started watching further back, 60s and 30s and 20s comedies — Charlie Chaplin is my favorite. City Lights is my favorite, but even The Great Dictator has some of the funniest most heartbreaking moments, but that’s what’s so amazing about Charlie Chaplin and Woody Allen’s movies, and John Hughes. Those movies are so heartfelt. That scene in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with John Candy, It’s so funny you’re laughing so hard, and then it cuts back to his face and he’s so hurt by it. Genius. I’ve never seen anything — Those are the kind of movies you want to make.
How do you feel about people saying you’re the It Girl right now?
ES: I would say, that’s nice. And a week later they would say, this is the new it girl. It’s always going to be someone else. That’s such a fleeting label to put on someone. I just hope to keep working ’cause it’s been nice to call this my only job. My ultimate goal is to not have to go work somewhere else. That’s an actor’s life. You have to come to terms with. It’s so amazing now. I’m trying to appreciate it as much as I can, while I can. It’s not realistic to think that this is the way life is going to be. I know it’s now, but I’m so lucky to here today.
Easy A opens in theaters everywhere on September 17th.