Stone Cold Star

Fresh off the success of La La Land, Emma Stone is poised to take over Hollywood… again.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Fresh off the success of La La Land, Emma Stone is poised to take over Hollywood… again.

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Long before Jennifer Lawrence came in and did the most endearing stumble of all time, Emma Stone was everyone’s imaginary best friend. After all, she’s down to earth (so would totally relate to your normal person problems), pretty in a n0n-scary way (so you could admire her like a human painting, without having the bizarre feeling you were communicating with an alien species), uses the paparazzi spotlight to draw attention to worthwhile causes like youth mentoring (I don’t know why I’m even bothering with these brackets because obviously, no one doesn’t like worthwhile causes), and the pair of you would be totally hilarious together.

If you’re anything like me, I’m assuming your interest in Emma Stone piqued during Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Zombieland or Super Bad, where you could feel her “good friend” essence oozing from her pores. It then turned into a full-blown friend crush during the “Pocket Full of Sunshine” scene in Easy A (if you don’t remember this, it’s definitely worth a second watch; if you do – sorry, Natasha Bedingfield will be in your head for the next week). It probably peaked during the critically-acclaimed The Help and Crazy, Stupid, Love era, even if she’s since taken a little romance out of the iconic Dirty Dancing scene…

“When I was about seven years old, I was in gymnastics class,” she explained, on The Graham Norton Show early this year. “And I was on these parallel bars that are about six feet off the ground. I was standing on the top of the bars, and the teacher was holding me by the ankles. And somehow or other, she let go. I was standing on this bar, and I felt myself beginning to tip forward and I put my arms in [to my chest] and I fell six feet to the ground and I broke both of my arms….

“Years later, we do Crazy, Stupid, Love. I know that we’re going to do the Dirty Dancing lift… I didn’t know, however, that I have an internalised fear of being lifted over someone’s head at the height of about six feet. So I run to do the lift, and Ryan lifts me over his head and I… What did I do, Ryan?”

She mimicked a possum falling from a tree, trying to scratch her eyes out, according to her three-time co-star.

BFF material

Your friend crush would have continued through to Gangster Squad, and endured the Spider-Man movies mostly because she and Andrew Garfield were so damn adorable on the press circuit. You would have been proud when your imaginary BFF got her first Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress in Birdman.

But, unlike Jennifer Lawrence, who stayed in the spotlight just long enough for people to start writing pieces about how she was a little TOO best-friendy for her own good (which is not actually a thing, as we are sure Emma Stone, her real-life friend, would attest to), Emma seemed to gently move herself to the periphery of the public eye at this point.

Maybe it was just that you drifted apart while she was on Broadway performing in Cabaret, or during Aloha and The Irrational Man. But late last year, she reappeared in La La Land. The premise was a quirky one – a musical, shot in the style of bygone eras but straddling a modern world. But it worked.

“Emma just has that presence,” Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land, told Vogue US in October 2016. “She’s a great comedienne and also can be tremendously moving. She can play every single register.”

“The nature of being an actor is you finish something and you feel like you’re never gonna work again...”

Emma says she felt a real resonance with Mia, her La La Land character. Mia is an aspiring actress, working as a barista in LA. Years earlier, when Emily Stone presented her “Project Hollywood” PowerPoint to her parents aged 14, she too entered the bizarre world of Hollywood – the sea of people pitching and auditioning, the call backs (or worse, the silence) after auditions. Having changed her name to Emma (“Emily Stone” was taken, and there can only be one of each name in Hollywood, according to the Screen Actors Guild), she got a job at a bakery that made dog treats (yes, that’s a thing) to keep her in LA. And while she went on to book jobs – bit parts at first, and then powerful leads across all genres – she’s never forgotten.

“The nature of being an actor is you finish something and you feel like you’re never gonna work again and that doesn’t ever go away. It doesn’t really matter what it is that you last did. It always feels like your fingers are crossed and you’re just waiting to see what’s gonna happen next,” Emma told Indiewire in November 2014.

Still on top

In January this year, La La Land tap danced its way to a record-breaking number of Golden Globes. Later that month, it became tied for the most movie nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress. Emma was back, and reaching dizzying new heights.

Next up for her is another first – a role based on real events in Battle of The Sexes. The story follows Bobby Riggs (Crazy, Stupid, Love co-star Steve Carell), a tennis player who claimed that female players were inferior, and even at 55, could beat even the best. He challenged Billie Jean King, the women’s tennis number one and, eventually, the two of them played a match together.

The issue of inequality is something Emma personally relates to. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she notes that “there were times in the past, making a movie, when I’ve been told that I was hindering the process by bringing up an opinion or an idea. I hesitate to make it about being a woman, but there have been woman, but there have b times when I’ve improvised, they’ve laughed at my joke and then given it to my male co-star.”

And after Battle of The Sexes? More firsts – playing the villainess, Cruella de Vil; a female-driven historical movie about Queen Anne called The Favourite; and whispers of a TV series that would reunite her with Superbad co-star, Jonah Hill.

It’s clear that while she’s left La La Land for New York, her star is still shining brightly. Now we just have to hope she’ll find time to start returning our calls… 

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3 times we wished we were hanging with Emma Stone

1 When she formed the ultimate girl band with Adele and Jennifer Lawrence.

In Vanity Fair’s December issue last year, Jennifer described how she and Emma texted each other daily for a year, The Notebook style. Emma, showing yet another great best friend quality, admitted that “there was definitely a time early on when I was like ‘oh hey my ego is going nuts she’s so great and vibrant and talented I’m screwed I’ll never work again goodbye yellow brick road.’ Then I chilled out and remembered we’re completely different and there is room for everyone, even if it’s an industry that doesn’t really seem to support that idea upfront.” The feeling was mutual: “If I wasn’t her biggest fan, I would’ve Tonya Harding’d her in the kneecaps,” Jennifer returned.

2 At Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary after-party, where basically every funny person in Hollywood was.

“I’d taken off my shoes to dance because I am one of those people who dance at parties. And I stepped on broken glass… [Someone] grabbed a knife and took the glass out of my foot. I swear to God. And then 60 seconds later, one of the SNL people was like, ‘Prince is onstage. Do you want to go on and play the tambourine?’” she told Vogue.

3 When she cried over a video message from Mel B, because she loves the Spice Girls so much – viva forever, Emma.

Images TPG/Click Photos.