Though she only started acting in films three years ago and never played a leading role before now, it’s hard to not be a fan of Emma Stone. Beautiful, charming, smart and fun to watch, she can easily be ranked among the top five actors under 25 with her performances in Superbad and Zombieland alone. But she enters a whole new world with her newest film, Easy A.
Appearing in nearly every scene of Will Gluck’s film and narrating the ones she doesn’t, it’s truly the first litmus test that she’s had as a star and she pulls it off with flying colors. Playing the Hester Prynne role in a story that takes heavy notes from The Scarlet Letter, she’s smart and engaging enough that all demographics can enjoy the film.
I was lucky enough to sit down with her at a junket where she discussed the pressures that come with a leading role, the PowerPoint presentation that brought her to Hollywood and what it was like doing takes that lasted 30 minutes at a time.
So, to start, you’re in basically 100% of this film. How much pressure did that put on you?
It was less about the size of the role and more about doing the role justice itself, I think. Yeah, that was my concern throughout the whole thing. Yeah, the size of it you can’t really think about too much or else you go crazy. By you, I mean me. I’m really neurotic. Yeah.
Will was talking about your audition and going back home and taping your webcam segment. Tell me about how that came about and what your approach was when you did that.
Taping the webcam?
Well, I was not happy needless to say, when he asked me to do that. Because I know myself. I knew that if I had the control I was going to do it over and over and over and over because you don’t want to send something and be like, “That is the best I can do.” You know? Like, that’s the one. I knew I was never going to feel that way. So, I did that for a couple hours. It’s like a one-minute monologue, and I did it over and over and over. Then, finally, my roommate was like, “Just send it. Come on.” I was like, “All right. Fine. Fine. I’ll do it one more time. Just one more.” And then sent it. Yeah. So, I just did it that night. It was right after the audition and just went home and tried to get it out of the way. Because the longer I waited the worse it was going to get.
It’s really hard for women to find great roles in comedy. Yet, you’re obviously very skilled and you’ve found some great roles throughout your career, but they’ve all been support parts so far.
What was it like when you read the script and it was the lead role and, I’m assuming, a smart script because the film is very smart.
Yeah. Oh, the script was wonderful. You feel like you struck gold or something when you read a well-written comedy part for a female. It’s just such a rare thing, which is horribly sad. Although, it is nice nowadays, it seems like more female comedians are developing movies or coming up with characters and working with writers and kind of making your own thing, and that’s what Anna did for The House Bunny. But, I couldn’t have been more grateful even to read it much less be involved with it. It was fantastic.
Are you big on technology?
I love it. I love it. But, I can’t get too involved in the Internet. I am an Internet fan, needless to say. Since I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a website designer. So, I made those when I was a kid. In my day, there weren’t any blogs or social networks. It was all e-zines and drop-down menus. So, I had been, like anybody that is an Internet lover knows, it’s been fascinating to watch the progression of social networking and the blogosphere and the shear speed of it all. The fact that you can transfer pictures so quickly and all the programs they’ve come out with. So yes, needless to say, I love it and have an addictive personality and can’t use it, any of it. Because if I have a Twitter or Facebook, that’s all I will do. So, I don’t. But, I completely appreciate it and can see the good in it. It’s funny, I have a friend that is like, “I can’t believe all the world is so…it’s just shrinking. It’s so awful.” I’m like, “But think about for marketing’s sake on Twitter. Think about how you could do this and this and the…”I love it. I love it.
What is your favorite gear? Like computers, iPads.
I actually don’t have an iPad. I have the 4G iPhone, which drops calls. You know, I’m not very computer savvy. It’s more Internet. It’s more HTML based than coding or whatever. But I’m not very good with Flash or anything like that. Is that still a current thing to talk about, Flash? I haven’t been to many websites in awhile.
What topics did you make websites for?
The first time I ever made one was…you remember Angelfire? And, like Geocities, which I didn’t think was a very good program. But, Angelfire, kind of let you have the open square box to make your own thing. But, when I was in fifth grade, we’d make like travel brochures for…you know, he would assign each of us a different place, so it was just kind of to research a place. I was a real overachiever, in a very obnoxious way. So, I decided I’ll make a website and it’ll get me a free pass out of class to go to the library and use the computer, which was awesome to get to leave every day. Because we had 30 minutes allotted time every day that week. So, I went to the library and I learned how to kind of do it and started dabbling. Then, I just got really, really into it. Like, Photoshop and animation programs and just trying to make cool frames.
Is it true that when you were trying to convince your parents for you to move out to Hollywood you did it with like a PowerPoint presentation?
Uh-huh. Yeah. Well, that’s just easier than buying a bunch of material and making a foam board presentation.
Did you have a laser pointer and everything?
No, because it’s all on the computer. All you’ve got to do is click. It’s so easy. Little wipes, incorporated a song. Yeah. I don’t know. I mean if you know the basics…I mean that was also easier because basically the Internet you just look up pictures and save them and put them in. It was a pretty easy thing.
Yeah. My dad’s a businessman. So, I think maybe I grew up thinking presentations were a good way to get your point across instead of just sitting down and having a conversation. I also get really emotional when I’m excited. If I feel strongly about anything I get overwhelmed with emotion. So, I knew that sitting down and going, “I’ve got to move. I’ve got to move. Please let me move” wasn’t going to be a good approach. So, I did it in a little bit more of a business-y way. But, I cried the whole time.
What made you so passionate to feel that you absolutely had to do it?
Well, I always loved acting and improv and sketch comedy and theater, which I did at a local youth theater. But, the actual moment of moving to LA was a little bit like Howard Beale in Network. Like, when he wakes up and he’s like, “Why me?” I had a moment a little bit in the middle of class. It was kind of just like, got to move, got to move. Then, I made the presentation. Then, two months later I moved. It was a little weird.
Was this in high school?
It was in high school, yeah. My freshmen year of high school. So, I only went to…that parlayed into a question…I was home-schooled for high school. So, I didn’t really have a traditional all of high school experience either. But then again, I don’t really see this as…I’m just going to make this a different question. I just realized what I was doing. To me, I don’t think this is really a high school movie. I think it’s more a story of reputation and miscommunication and the speed at which, with technology, that spreads now. So, it didn’t really feel like I was misinformed or had the wrong high school experience to try to bring this to life. You know it needed…Will didn’t really have a traditional high school experience either.
Bert V. Royal also said that he was home-schooled. That’s really interesting.
Yeah. It just happens to be through a 17-year-old girl’s eyes that’s in high school. But I think it could be something other than sex and it could be a girl that’s 35 and everyone in her office is hearing a rumor about her and it’s all over the Internet and Twitter. I mean it would still kind of be the same story.
It reminded me actually like with Lindsey Lohans of the world, the fact that Hollywood is so like if you did something wrong they castigate you and then ostracize you. Do you feel that way at all?
I mean I can’t relate to that because that’s not…there’s a lot of people in my job, my age that have it completely differently than I do. But, seeing it, just as people living in 2010, I think we’ve seen…and not just with actors but politicians or sports figures. Where you feel like you know them well enough that how could they mess up? It becomes such a story. Rumors spiral out of control. But, I think nowadays, I’ll say, I’d rather have rumors than the truth. You know what I mean? Wouldn’t you feel safer with rumors than people knowing all the truths about your life? I mean think of all the truths that have come out lately. Lord. It’s not fair, first of all. That’s people’s personal lives and that’s just not…it just doesn’t even seem fair. So, much rather have some rumor that I’m…I was just going to say something awful. Never mind. Lord. Blushing.
What about creating the family dynamic with Stanley and Patricia? What was that like?
For me, I just had to sit there and laugh and be happy and have the best three days ever. For them, it was so nice because they had known each other for a really long time. So, they had a great relationship already and could kind of play off each other really well. I don’t know if it was ad-libbing. But, Byrd had written really hilarious characters as Olive’s parents, smart, great parents, in script that kind of defined how this girl became the way she is and as confident as she is. They were just incredible.
Do you ever watch Friends? Was it exciting to work with Lisa Kudrow?
Yeah. You know what? This is the second movie I got to do with Lisa. I did a movie called Paper Man with her in 2008. So, I did Paper Man, then Zombieland, and Easy A back to back to back. So, it was like Lisa, no Lisa, Lisa. It was great. I think she’s amazing. As a comedian, no one’s like her at all. Her timing is impeccable. She’s…yeah…I’m lucky to have worked with her twice.
Will was talking about the way he would kind of shoot was he would just keep the camera rolling for like 30 minutes at a time per shot. What was it like working under those kinds of conditions?
I’ve actually…I say lucky enough because I do feel that way. I’ve been lucky enough to work under those conditions before. It was the same way, kind of, on Superbad and on Zombieland because we had Genesis, which kind of allows you to shoot for incredibly long time and makes the editing process faster. It’s not like film where you’re reloading all the time and you have to stop rolling because of the expense of it. So, it does make things a little easier just in terms of getting things done faster or getting more takes or not having to stop what you’re doing, reload, and then get back into it. I really like that. That was the original…I mean the first movie I did that was the way we did it. So, I’ve only been doing this for three long years. Oh, I’m such an old woman.
What’s the next…
The next movie coming out is Crazy, Stupid, Love; which will be in April, I think. I’m working on a movie right now called The Help in Mississippi. I just came from that. Crazy, Stupid, Love; it’s Steve Carell and Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling.
Do you think people are going to be surprised by what Ryan Gosling does in a comedy? I know Lars and the Real Girl was a little bit comedic. But, I can’t think of like a real…
It didn’t surprise me. I think maybe people will be. But, he’s really funny. I mean in real life too. So, I thought it was just…it’s going to be really good.
Being in this for three long years, does it seem like it’s happened…are you surprised at how quickly things have happened?
Yeah, absolutely. But then again, that’s being in 2010. It’s so…I mean movies were being made all the time, I know, in other generations. But, you look back at actresses like, I’m going to go with my favorite, Diane Keaton and you look at her track record. It’s like 1971, 1974, 1975, 1978. There’s more space between each thing. Whereas next year, there’s like three movies coming out or something. It’s just because…this is why I know that I need to appreciate it right now because I know it’s a very fleeting, changing thing. I think nowadays, with the now, now, now-ness of everything you have to latch on and just let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Right? Come one. Then, next person. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. I know that’s the way it is. So, trying to navigate that and not have to be the case because I’d really like to do this for awhile.
What’s your greatest fear at this point in your career, in your life?
This is not what I think would be the case but since I’ve seen it with some people my age that do the same job as me, not being able to live life like a regular person. Because my entire job is based on people. If you can’t live a regular life I don’t know how you could play a person that does. I have a very regular life. Now it’s been completely…it’s fine and great and it’s never been…there’s not photographers or anything like that. That ever changing would be horrific, horrific. It makes me shaky. So, that would be the only fear really.
Has there been any motion with a Zombieland 2 that you know of?
No. You know as much as I do. Anything that’s been printed…yeah, I haven’t really heard much. Ruben’s really busy working right now on 30 Minutes or Less. Yeah, I don’t know.
But, you’re excited at the idea of it?
Oh my God. How do you not be? Those are like four of my favorite people in the entire world - I’m including Ruben in there. Yeah, that would be a blast.
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.