Emma Stone is way too hot to be just 20 years old. There I said it. As hard as the may be to believe, she looks even more amazing in person than she did in Superbad, and as we learned when we talked to her, she exudes a similarly nerdy cool as her characters, which makes her far more approachable than most older actresses that are half as good-looking.
A couple hours into our visit, Stone showed up to shoot her scenes in the supermarket, and the visiting journalists found a corner of the makeshift cafeteria to talk to her, all of us sitting on the floor as workers took the remaining tables and chairs. Besides the locale, it was a strange interview, because the unit publicist decided to plop himself right down to Stone making both her and us nervous as he jumped in to tell her what we could or couldn’t talk about. We have kept some of his comments in the interview because they obviously had an impact on Ms. Stone’s responses.
Shock: Since we’re just coming into this and we’ve heard a little bit about your character, but can you talk a little bit about who you play in the film?
Stone: I play…can we say names? Wichita is my character’s name being that she is originally from Wichita and that’s how our characters go by, and she’s a woman, I think, on the road. [laughs] I don’t know how much I can and cannot say. I’m a little nervous.
Publicist: You shouldn’t be nervous.
Stone: I’ve never had one of these secret movies before.
Shock: Can we learn how you meet the other two characters?
Stone: Columbus and Tallahassee? No, right?
Publicist: Yes, you can. Basically, you’re looking to find transportation.
Stone: Yeah. Obviously, we’re on the run across the country from everyone who’s turned into flesh-eating zombies. We’re traveling along and we’re benefiting from some things that they can offer us. Can I say what kind of things?
Stone: Weapons, cars, ammunition.
Publicist: Basically the first 20 to 30 pages of the script are safe to talk about.
Publicist: Maybe I’m wrong.
Stone: I have no idea.
Publicist: The first 20 or 30 pages should be okay.
Stone: Well, not really. There are so many surprising twists and turns in this script.
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Shock: So you’re with Abigail, though.
Stone: I am with Abigail.
Shock: What’s your relationship with her character?
Stone: She’s a girl I’m traveling with. [to publicist] Can I just say it, Michael? For the love of God, we’re sisters. She is my little sister. We’re traveling. It’s like Paper Moon. Are we sisters? Are we not sisters? Is she just an orphan? So yeah, we are sisters.
Shock: You’ve done a lot of comedies before, but you haven’t really done anything that played with the horror genre. Did you ever think you were going to make anything with zombies and what’s the experience like now?
Stone: Amazing. It’s really incredible. I’m shockingly terrible at action movies. I tore my muscle three days in just running, and then I was limping around everywhere. Reese had to push through it because I was limping like a zombie. [laughs] I’m dead serious. We’re running from zombies, and I’m limping in the same fashion that they limp. It was just awful. I just had to try and rally, and I don’t know that I did it that well. It’s been really fun and really different to learn to shoot guns and to try and look tough. I’ve never really played a woman before. I’ve only really played girls. This is very much a woman. It’s interesting. It’s really cool. It’s been a huge challenge more so than I thought it would be.
Shock: Do we see a lot of your character before you meet Woody and Jesse?
Stone: Not too much, no.
Shock: So basically your story starts when you meet them.
Stone: [laughs] Who knows?
Shock: So we’ll have to see the movie when it comes out.
Stone: Right, right. [laughs] That’s what we’re working toward: ticket sales! [laughs]
Shock: I see you guys are shooting under the Genesis camera, and that seems to move a little bit quicker.
Stone: I really like Genesis. I believe we shot Superbad on Genesis, which was my first movie experience. It’s funny because I think that so much has switched to digital now, and I think it was like my fifth movie when they said, “This is film,” and I had never shot on film before, I realized. Genesis is incredible. I love it. If that was your question, I completely interrupted you.
Shock: Absolutely. Obviously when you’re shooting on film, there are a lot more lights and it moves a lot slower. Takes go pretty quick. As an actor, do you enjoy that where you’re just repeating take after take very quickly?
Stone: Completely. It’s nice that you don’t have to cut even when they need to reset a light or they need to make minor adjustments. You don’t need to cut. You can just keep rolling, and even that helps the process. I enjoy shooting on digital, especially Genesis. It’s so much quicker. At the beginning, I didn’t even know it could go slow, and film takes a bit.
Shock: You’re familiar with the term “scream queen” right?
Stone: Scream queen?
Shock: Once you’re the female lead in a horror film, nothing’s ever the same.
Stone: Yeah, I don’t scream.
Shock: Okay, you’re a non-scream queen.
Stone: Yes. Anti-scream queen.
Shock: But no, seriously, once you’re in a horror film, you have an entirely new rabid fanbase. Are you prepared for that.
Stone: This is a zombie film. Does it count as a horror film?
Shock: Absolutely. It counts doubly.
Stone: Really? If it’s a comedy as well?
Shock: Yeah, cause that’s the kind of movie people watch and watch and watch and watch and watch. Some of the most famous horror movies ever are actually horror comedies.
Stone: Like what?
Shock: An American Werewolf in London.
Stone: Oh yeah? Yeah, that makes sense because they’re the best of both worlds. Wow, I never really thought about it. Thank you. That’s exciting. That will be interesting.
Shock: So you don’t do any screaming.
Stone: I do not scream. I do some shooting, some hyperventilating, but no screaming. I credit that to my octave range. I’m literally incapable of screaming, so I guess I was the right choice in that sense, but not in the running or shooting sense. Apparently, I just tear my muscles and am ridiculous.
Shock: Is there zombie action?
Stone: Yeah, there’s some intense zombie scenes. It gets bloody. There’s one I’m very excited about that we have yet to shoot that doesn’t sound that exciting, so forgive me. There’s a moment where I’m doing something and I just love the way this is written because this is my character in a nutshell. I’m just doing something, and I sense a zombie approach me over my shoulder, and it [the script] says, “Wichita turns,” and almost without looking, nonchalantly shoots him square in the face and goes back to what she’s doing. It’s kind of like “Boom!” and his head blows off. I’m excited to shoot that one, but that’s a really simple one. No attack, it’s just…
Shock: Does that sum up your character, though?
Stone: A bit. She’s so used to this, and they’re so ineffective at this point by zombies approaching that it’s nonchalant in the way she’s killing them.
Shock: How has this experience been compared to Superbad. It seems a little more low-key. Do you feel that way?
Stone: You know, Ruben is so cool and so low-key all around as a guy and [he's] so excited to be making this. The vibe is a little similar in that sense. It’s not a chore. It doesn’t feel like it’s a chore to be making this. We’re all having lots of fun. We’re all very excited to be here, and it’s a small cast which Superbad was as well, so I guess it’s similar in that regard. There was a lot less bleeding at lunch in Superbad. [laughs] Literally, that has been my biggest adjustment is trying to eat with the zombies around. I was walking yesterday and there was this guy bleeding from the head and he’s kind of moping around or whatever. I barely regard it. This man is bleeding from every pore.
Shock: There’s a lot more locations rather than soundstage all the time.
Stone: Yeah. A lot of Superbad was on location, but there was a lot less to do for my character in Superbad than there was in this one. This has been wild.
Shock: You’re working with Woody who we watched improvise this morning already. Have you had some scenes with him where he’s broken from the script and done things on his own?
Stone: You know, I think we did our first scene together yesterday. It was yesterday. Yeah, he came up with some really funny [stuff]. He’s so witty. Witty Woody. [laughs] You can quote me. He was hilarious. He came up with some really funny stuff yesterday, but I’m looking forward to more in the future because we filmed the scene where our characters meet for the first time yesterday.
Shock: Since Abby is not here for us to talk too, could you talk about how she’s adjusting to all this action because it’s kind of new to her as well.
Stone: I keep saying to her, because she has this jar where if you curse, you have to put a quarter in the jar, and I keep telling her she’s a badass, and then going back and saying she’s a “bad-bum” so I don’t have to do the quarter. She’s a badass, she really is. The girl can shoot a gun like no one’s business. She loves it. She’s ready to be in action movies for the rest of her life. She’s awesome and totally just jumped right into it. I was at the shooting range. We had to learn in LA how to shoot, so Ruben and Abby and her mom and myself were at the shooting range, and it was Abby’s first time shooting and I’d already shot. It was like, “It’s going to be so cute to watch this twelve year old shoot.” She picks up this shotgun and everybody’s like, “Go Abby! It’s gonna be great,” and she’s like, “Oh, I’m so nervous. Am I going to do it right?” and she shoots and she’s like, “YES!” Boom! Boom! She was incredible immediately, and her mom goes, “I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified.” She’s so good at shooting.
Shock: Does she actually carry a gun in the movie?
Stone: Oh yes. She shoots.
Publicist: She does more than carry it.
Stone: She does more than carry it. She uses it. She’s pretty awesome.
Shock: The ending of the film takes place in the amusement park, and you guys shot there for three weeks. What was the extent of your stunts? What was the experience like shooting there?
Stone: That was probably the largest scene stunt-wise, obviously from the length of time it took to shoot. It was a big ending. That was probably the majority of the stunt work for my character, at least. It was so cool to be at an amusement park at night for three weeks. It was like a kid fantasy come to life except there were zombies everywhere, like hundreds of zombies.
Shock: It depends on the kid.
Stone: Yeah, it depends on the kid, exactly. That was really cool. I don’t know how much stunt-wise I can explain what happens there, but I will say there are a lot of zombies and there are a lot of guns.
Publicist: We’re actually going to show them a few little pieces.
Stone: Can I see?
Publicist: Do you have the password?
Stone: I want to watch it with you guys. That’d be awesome. We can be “watchmen!” [laughs] What a terrible pun! Alright, cool. Thank you, guys!
From Shock Till You Drop