Emma Stone may have buckets of talent, an abundance of charm and even a bona fide superhero for a boyfriend. But Stylist finds a charismatic star with her feet firmly on the ground.
Shortly after Stylist speaks to Emma Stone, she has a mini meltdown (nothing to do with us, you understand). On the Australian leg of the press tour for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the self-proclaimed “biggest Spice Girls fan ever” dissolves into giddy tears of excitement after listening to a surprise personal message from Spice Girl Mel B. She then goes on to recite the rap from Wannabe while live on radio. There are plenty of reasons to like Emma Stone, but this? This is why we love her.
While her naturally selfdeprecating humour is often mistaken for goofiness, Arizona-born Stone, 25, is much more wry and knowing, which is why she’s found it so easy to genre-hop her way around Hollywood. From her 2007 film debut in Judd Apatow’s teen comedy Superbad (since the director asked her to dye her naturally blonde hair red, she’s switched between the two colours ever since) to 2011’s literary adaptation The Help; kissing Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) to kissing Ryan Gosling again in Gangster Squad (2013); and now, reprising her role as Gwen Stacy in the action blockbuster Spider-Man alongside her real-life British boyfriend Andrew Garfield (aka Spidey).
Rewind to a few days before the Spice Girls incident and she’s on the phone to Stylist during a snow storm in New York, apologising for any rustiness in her interview technique as it’s been a while since she’s done one. There really is no need for her to apologise. We’ve interviewed Stone before, for the aforementioned The Help, and know her to be one of the more approachable, intelligent and talented actresses on the big screen. Which we are more than ready to remind her of…
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with real-life boyfriend and Spider-Man Andrew Garfield
At the 2012 MTV Awards, you said, “What sets you apart can feel like a burden, but it’s what makes you great.” Did you always feel a bit different? And do you think people should follow their own path?
Oh boy, that’s a good question. Yes, I absolutely think people should follow their own path. And that’s probably something, oddly, I have gone back to over the past couple of years, and I think that’s the thing I have struggled with more recently than ever. So yes, I do feel like that. And did I always feel a bit different? I guess so. Yeah, I did.
Is being a role model a burden? Does that come into play when you are choosing a role?
No. In no way at all. But that is something I have been more conscious of lately, because I haven’t had to do interviews for a long time now, since probably the last Spider-Man came out. I am nervous today to be doing this because I haven’t talked to [journalists] in a long time. It’s so important to be clear on your feelings about things and what you are going to say publicly, because I think that young women – and young people – are incredibly important and they need to have people in the public sphere that they can look up to. I am not saying I am one of them, but I do attach a big sense of importance to that. That’s one of many reasons why I wish I were more eloquent!
Do you have a message that you want to get across?
Honesty and being true to yourself hopefully. But I think the only way you can get a message across is by being the thing you are trying to talk about. It’s not like you can wave a flag or a slogan or a motto, and say, “I hope that you all understand this.” You just have to be that, right? I am inspired by people who are what they talk about; that walk the walk.
“I am so glad I am a woman. I think this is a wonderful time for women. I think the tide is turning”
OK so looking back to your own impressionable years, what you were like as a teenager?
Hmm. I was lucky that [when I was] young, it became clear to me I wanted to try to be an actor. So I had a clear-cut path of where I was heading. In that sense I think I was confident, just in the fact that I knew what I liked to do.
What did your teachers write on your school reports?
It depended on the year because I went through a lot of shifts, so probably it was that I was loud in the first grade, withdrawn in the second and third, then back to loud and rambunctious and class-clowny. A little bit of a trouble maker but not that much.
What influence has your mother, Krista, been on you?
Oh, I mean, she has just been wonderful! When it comes to advice for me, or being there for me, she has been my rock through my life, so that kind of unwavering love, always knowing that somebody loves you unconditionally, that has been the biggest influence on me in my life, that absolute solidity.
Would you describe her as funny?
Yeah, my mom’s funny. And my dad’s funny. They are big comedy fans, so what they watched had a huge effect on me. My mom was a huge fan of Gilda Radner, which is how I was introduced to Saturday Night Live, which became my beacon. My mom also showed me my first Woody Allen movie – I had never seen Annie Hall – so I watched that with her. My dad [Jeff] showed me John Candy and John Belushi and Steve Martin and Bill Murray. So it was all from what they were inspired by, and that’s what hit home for me.
Emma Stone with Andrew Garfield at The Amazing Spider-Man press conference in Tokyo
What is it you particularly like about England and the British sense of humour?
Well, I absolutely love England. The British sense of humour I have been exposed to, but British comedy… I’m ashamed to say I have not become that acquainted with British comedy.
You need to fix that!
Please do not punch me in the face! I mean verbally punch me.
I wouldn’t! But you like the British sense of humour?
Yeah, I do like the British sense of humour, yes. But it can be kind of biting.
We should recommend the best British comedy to you…
You should probably say Monty Python. Everybody says Monty Python. I still haven’t seen Monty Python.
Any of it?
No. And here comes the verbal punch! It is embarrassing. I am trying to think… Oh! You know what I did watch? Big Train. It was with Simon Pegg, probably 1999, maybe early 2000s, and it was a sketch comedy show, like Brass Eye or that sort of thing.
So you have seen Brass Eye?
No, I haven’t seen Brass Eye!
But Simon Pegg was funny right?
Simon Pegg is funny.
Speaking of funny, Jennifer Lawrence gave you a funny shout out on the red carpet at the Oscars last year. Why do you feel you two have a kinship?
Well, I just think she’s great, isn’t she? She is so inspiring to me, and I am so grateful that she exists in the world, as someone who is authentic and who has not bent to fit any idea of what a woman should be like in that kind of position. And she is so talented. I am just so happy that she is around for women everywhere. It’s just fantastic.
Do you think there is anything that could be improved for women in your industry?
Yes! There’s a lot of interesting elements I need to think on a little bit more and express in a clearer way, but yes, there is a lot of improvement that could happen in our industry. I think one of the hard and great things coming out of this day and age is that everything seems to be seen and scrutinised. So you see many facets of a person now, because people are relentlessly under a microscope, which is terrifying, but it’s also interesting, because you can see people being really authentic and taking to new media. Like Amy Poehler with her campaign for girls [Smart Girls At The Party; sgatp.net]. There are ways to reach women in a totally different way than there used to be. I think that’s a nice aspect of this terrifying internet age. There are new methods to inspire women and speak to women. Like Ellen Page, did you see that? [Ellen came out as gay during a speech at the Time to THRIVE conference.]
I mean, how fantastic is that? There are a lot of really brave women in the industry right now, who are daring to be themselves and not fit into this stupid ‘actress’ mould, and that’s really inspiring. So yeah, a lot of things can change and I think a lot of people are beginning to accept change, in lots of different mediums, which I’m really happy about. I hope I can harness some of that, in some way.
What makes you proud to be a woman?
Lots of things. I am so grateful to be a woman. I am so glad I am a woman. I think this is a wonderful time for women. I think the tide is turning and there are so many brave, authentic, strong and funny and vulnerable and exciting women in every industry right now. And Hillary Clinton is going to run for President, so we may well have a female President in America soon. So things are happening. I just read a great interview with Gloria Steinem about equal pay for women and all the things that are coming to the forefront, and it’s an exciting and important time to be a woman, and to take pride in our gender.
We couldn’t agree more. However, we’re about to shoot ourselves in our feminist foot now by saying this… You’re the envy of all women, having kissed Ryan Gosling.
Ha! I love this change of pace!
What we love about Crazy, Stupid, Love is that your character’s natural goofiness and being herself wins her the ridiculous hot guy. Is that a good tip?
To be goofy?
Well, to be yourself.
Right. Here comes the message again. You would hope that being as authentic as you can be would win whoever was meant to be with you. Even if they happen to be Ryan Gosling.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out 16 April