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Emma Stone in La La Land

December 05, 2016

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By: Lynn Barker

Actress Emma Stone plays a Hollywood hopeful in the song and dance romantic drama La La Land. You know her from playing Gwen Stacy in two Spider-Man films, a teen with an undeserved bad rep in Easy A and she was the voice of lead teen Eep in the animated The Croods. Emma was fun in older films The House Bunny and Zombieland and the classic Superbad and she’ll play Cruella in the live action version of the classic 101 Dalmations film coming up.

Mia (Emma) ready for an important auditionMia (Emma) ready for an important auditionCourtesy of Dale Robinette

We’ve always enjoyed talking to Emma and visiting her on set. Check out what she says about big challenges in her first song and dance film and how hard it might be to combine a personal life and a high profile Hollywood persona and more!

Q: You were working on “Cabaret” on Broadway right before this so your pipes were all pumped and ready to go?

  • Emma: Yeah. I definitely had a different amount of stamina for singing and dancing than I probably would have had in any other time period.

Mia (Emma) and Sebastian (Ryan) listen to JazzMia (Emma) and Sebastian (Ryan) listen to JazzCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: How was doing La La Land, an old-time Hollywood musical, and did you have time especially to rehearse the dancing?

  • Emma: We had almost three months which is an unheard of amount of rehearsal time for a film or even for theater which was great. So we did a lot of tap dance, ballroom dance which was choreographed and re-choreographed based on what was emerging as our strengths or weaknesses. That was a lovely opportunity that we had that kind of time to devote to it and important. It wouldn’t have worked out otherwise.

Q: What is with you and Ryan Gosling? It’s like magic every time. Do you guys just get each other or what’s the deal?

  • Emma: (laughs) Yeah. It’s kind of just easy. It’s an easy thing with him so it’s not super exciting. It’s just what it is.

Emma as Mia and Ryan as SebastianEmma as Mia and Ryan as SebastianCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: What was it like coming back together?

  • Emma: It was great. It was really fun to do something like this because it had been a little while. We’d been in Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad not too far apart then it had been like four years so it was really cool to do all this kind of ambitious stuff with someone that you trust and know.

An intimate momentAn intimate momentCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: Did you and Ryan learn the choreography together?

  • Emma: We were separate for most of it, learning. Then we came together at the end when we were learning to do the choreography and ballroom dance at the same time but we basically had to learn alone because they didn’t want us holding each other back. They wanted us to spread our wings individually. Two wholes make a whole (laughter). We would go each day for just a few hours and we’d do tap warm-ups and some ballroom stuff and a little soft shoe. It was just fun. Dancing is such a community feeling. Everybody says “love you” to each other all the time. It’s this lovely little safe world. The dance, honestly, was my favorite part. It was really, really fun.

Mia (Emma) and Sebastian dance their troubles awayMia (Emma) and Sebastian dance their troubles awayCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: The ending of this movie is bitter-sweet. Do you think there’s a balance between love of your career versus love in real life? Can you achieve true happiness in live without having one or the other?

  • Emma: The importance of balance is huge but I think it is for everybody. It’s a big issue for at least anyone that I talk to in any career. Between work and your kids and your spouse or whatever situation you have in your life. I think balancing all of that seems to be a huge situation.  It’s interesting in a creative life because you have to be so in love with your work, like it truly is an “in love” feeling with your job. That balance of love for your work and love in your life is an interesting thing. I don’t know. That is person to person. For me, it would be very hard to find meaning in my life without an element of both.

Q: Your character auditions for parts. Have you ever had and experience similar to the ones that she has; someone texting (during your audition) or not even paying attention? Do you have an audition horror story? Can you relate to that?

  • Emma: Definitely. There’s nothing too horrific. I see that as a bit humiliating but also our job on a daily basis. You are risking humiliation so it’s not particularly something that sticks deeply in my mind. That first audition (in the movie) was something that happened to Ryan when he was a teenager or something but I more remember the periods of time when I wasn’t getting any auditions. That’s more what I find painful in memory; that feeling of not even getting the chance to try and be rejected.

Emma with her young director Damien ChazelleEmma with her young director Damien ChazelleCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: Was there a time when you were like “Screw it! I’m going home.”?

  • Emma: Totally. Multiple times. I didn’t do that but I got to that point and would cry on the floor then go “Okay, all right, let’s go to one more or go one more day”. But I’ve had that feeling and still know elements of that feeling.

Q: Your character gets a big job. What was that moment in your career? You’ve played a lot of cool parts.

  • Emma: There’s been a few that feel like that but in different ways throughout my work life. For me, Alison Jones is a casting director and I moved to L.A. when I was 15 and she called me in and I saw her in (T.V.) pilot season quite a lot. Alison called me within two and a half years into knowing her and she was like “Can you just come in tomorrow? I’m going to put you on tape for this movie.” I had done some guest parts. She said “I’ve just got a feeling about his one”. It was Superbad.

Falling in love on a strollFalling in love on a strollCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: That pretty much started your film career.

  • Emma: Yeah. She put me on tape. Then they brought me in later for Jud (Apatow) and I did improv with Jonah (Hill) and Greg Mattola and it was the reason I’ve gotten to do everything since. That was her gut feeling that this might be one that is going to work out. So that’s why when I go back (and think about) all that rejection, also that rejection led to Superbad so if I hadn’t been rejected from all those things, I would have been on a T.V. show that wouldn’t have gotten me that but I met her through that so it all does eventually piece together when you look back on your life.

Q: At 15, what was the worst part of adjusting to L.A. life?

  • Emma: Everything was a little strange just because I was being home schooled and I hung out mostly with my mom. From Arizona to L.A. is pretty different. It’s a bit of an adjustment. I was so desperate to move to New York but I made friends in L.A. and that was great. Then I moved to New York when I was almost 21 and I’ve lived there for almost eight years, now I have a totally different relationship to L.A. There’s like all this space and it’s so beautiful seeing all these different landscapes and all my friends are here so now I really like it so much but my adjustment period was a little like “What a strange town”.

Sebastian (Ryan) pours out his heart to Mia (Emma)Sebastian (Ryan) pours out his heart to Mia (Emma)Courtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: How do you deal with the waiting to see if you’ve gotten a good part?

  1. Emma: Oh yeah, waiting sucks. I don’t know, try to do a lot of yoga and meditation. I think now it’s creating things in times of waiting. I don’t do my job a lot of the time. I haven’t acted since May 20th because that’s when I wrapped the last thing so I don’t do what I love to do a lot of the time. It’s been six months since I’ve acted. So it’s nice to find creative outlets on a daily basis so that helps I think.

Q: What do you do? Do you garden?

  • Emma: I wish I gardened. I don’t have a space for a garden. I’m in an apartment in New York but I do lots of stuff. I read and write and hang out with people. I go see movies. I love to see movies and just other embarrassing stuff.

Mia (Emma) with Sebastian on date nightMia (Emma) with Sebastian on date nightCourtesy of Dale Robinette

Q: The last solo song when she’s singing in front of the casting directors was such a vulnerable number especially with how the camera was so close on your face and just you carrying the song. What was it like shooting that? Was there more pressure on you doing that scene?

  • Emma: Coming to the end of a long shot is brutal so when it’s just me, if I mess up I can be like “Sorry. I’m an idiot. Let’s go again”. And not like “Sorry Ryan. I literally ruined a beautiful take of you”. Weirdly that takes the pressure off when you’re the only one. But it’s pretty intense to have someone (the camera) looming there when you are singing a song but it’s sort of invigorating too

Q: What was the most intimidating thing for you about working on the film?

  • Emma: I think it was balancing the tone. It’s a Cinemascope (big screen) motion picture but it’s also very grounded in reality. We were going to move through these very subtle, small modern scenes into these dance numbers. Balancing that as an actor, was tricky for me at the beginning. I didn’t really understand how theatrical it would be or how big I should go or how much I should bring it in and calibrate all of that. That was the biggest challenge of the film for me and the most intimidating thing.

La La Land PosterLa La Land PosterCourtesy of Dale Robinette

La La Land is in theaters December 9th!

 

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