Emily Jean Stone, born November 6, 1998, began acting as a child as a member of the Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. There she made her stage debut in a production of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. She appeared in many more productions through her early teens until, at the age of 15, she decided that she wanted to make acting her career. So she did what any teenager would’ve done – a PowerPoint presentation backed by Madonna’s “Hollywood”, entitled “Project Hollywood”. This successful pitch managed to persuade her parents to allow her to drop out of school and move to Los Angeles. Emma and her mother moved to LA with her schooling completed at home while she spent her days auditioning. Her television breakthrough came with the part of Laurie Partridge in the VH1 talent/reality show In Search of the Partridge Family, which led to a number of small TV roles in the following years of 2005-2006: the missing girl Cynthia on Medium; voicing the dog Ivana on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody; the role of Diane on Malcolm in the Middle; the girl Shannon on Louis C.K.’s Lucky Louie. The following year she landed a bigger role as Violet in the TV mini-series Drive, a drama about people competing in an illegal cross-country road race.
Her breakout role came in 2007 as she played Jules, the object of desire for Jonah Hill’s character Seth, in Superbad. The box office hit was the story of two co-dependent high school seniors who are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry. After that, Emma gave scene-stealing performances in comedies such as The House Bunny, The Rocker and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Heather Parry, one of the producers of The House Bunny described Emma’s audition by saying “We’d just seen an early screening of Superbad, so we were excited to have Emma come in and audition. She first read for one of the Phi Iota Mu girls, and then read the part of Harmony. Only after she left did we think, ‘You know, she’d be great as Natalie.’ She’d already left the Sony lot, so we made her turn around and come back. She was nervous – she’d parked somewhere restricted and the whole time was afraid that her car was going to get towed. It worked out for her – she got the part.” By 2009, she was described with having “striking beauty and sincere talent and quickly emerging as one of Hollywood’s most sought-out actresses.” This could not be more true. The same year she got the part of Wichita in Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland, about a shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, and a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the Last Twinkie and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America. The movie became a hit, earning over $100 million at the worldwide box office on a shy $23 million budget.
In 2010, Emma Stone played the high school student Olive in the hit comedy Easy A. She finally got to carry a movie on her shoulders – and audiences everywhere loved it. Director Will Gluck says “everyone wanted to play the part. “I got calls from what seemed like every actress between the ages of 16 and 28. As soon as I heard that Emma Stone wanted to do it, I was very excited. We met really quickly, and she had no problem auditioning for me. A lot of this movie takes place with Olive speaking into her computer’s web cam. After her audition, Emma went home, did a scene into her webcam and emailed it to me. I took the disc with that scene to the head of the studio and said ‘This is the girl.’ She was by far, always my first choice.” The character of Olive really resonated with Emma, who said that she just had to play her. “Olive uses all these big words and makes silly puns, and she’s well aware that what she’s doing is kind of dumb, but she can’t stop herself from doing it. I do the same thing. There were so many things that made me feel a kinship with the character, that I felt that whether or not it was me, she deserved whoever it was that played her be willing to understand her. I think it would be easy to go very goofy with her, or read her the wrong way, and I was afraid that if it was the wrong actor, they wouldn’t be true to this amazing character.” This role was truly a game-changer and Emma Stone became the leading lady everyone wanted in their movie. Stone received her first Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Olive in the category Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, as well as a nomination for the Rising Star Award at the BAFTAS (British Academy Awards).
Stone landed the role many young actresses wanted, as writer Skeeter Phelan in the movie adaption of the immensely popular book The Help. “No one else could be playing Skeeter except for Emma Stone. Kathryn, the author, feels the same way. I met Emma and saw some of her work and it was just so obvious. She is so smart and she brings to the character of Skeeter this intelligence, a healthy naiveté, and you just root for her. You want her to win. She is the perfect underdog in so many ways. She is the swan waiting to mature,” said director Tate Taylor. The story centers on an aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s who decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. The movie was released in August of 2010, and Emma and the cast, including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer (who won the Academy Award for her role as Minny), Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard, received praise from critics everywhere. The movie and its cast got over 100 (!) nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain) and the win for Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) at the Academy Awards. Needless to say, Emma was extremely proud (rightfully so!) of being in such an acclaimed movie. The same year Emma played law-student Hannah in one of the summer’s biggest romantic comedies – Crazy, Stupid, Love. She played opposite Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore in the film, released in July 2011. Producer Denise Di Novi said “Emma is one in a million. She brought so much energy and curiosity and intelligence to Hannah, and those are precisely the qualities which spark Jacob’s (Ryan Gosling’s character) feelings for the character.” Emma continues by saying “they just have some kind of unavoidable chemistry, even though she tries hard to avoid him. Of course, every girl has had some flutters for the Jacob-type at least once in her life, so Hannah figures, ‘What harm is there in indulging that, just once?’” The duo had great chemistry, something they would get the chance to repeat a year later, as they once again starred together in Gangster Squad. The third movie Emma starred in the summer of 2011 was Friends with Benefits. The comedy only saw a small cameo role from Emma, as Justin Timberlake’s John Mayer-loving girlfriend Kayla. The movie starred Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson and Andy Samberg to name a few.
During the filming of The Help, she was officially joining the reboot of Spider-Man. Emma landed the part of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first love in The Amazing Spider-Man. She was very excited to show the character of Gwen, as she wasn’t really explored in the first trilogy (with Toby Maguier playing Spider-Man). Of the romance between Peter and Gwen, Emma said “I feel like Mary Jane fell in love with Spider-Man. Gwen falls in love with Peter Parker.” The movie focused on the human heart of the story, rather than on showy action sequences. “Marc’s biggest goal was working out that relationship,” she says. “We’re operating in a superhero universe, but that relationship has to feel grounded and real. I think the reason that so many fans of the comic books feel so protective of Gwen – or Mary Jane – is that those relationships did feel real and did feel grounded. As actors, it’s nice to have that material to build from – it already feels genuine.” Emma and the cast went on a gigantic press tour around the world, with stops in Japan, Germany, Spain, England, France and many more countries. The movie, released on July 3rd, 2012, became a worldwide smash, earning more than $700 million at the box office. The Amazing Spider-Man not only got her the part in a popular movie franchise, but an off-screen love as well. She started dating Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield behind the scenes, and as of today they are still very much a couple.
2012 would also have the premiere of Gangster Squad, but due to the horrible Aurora, Colorado Century 16 massacre, Warner Bros. ordered the film back into production for a reshoot of a scene in which four gangsters fire machine guns through a projection screen into a crowded movie theater. The movie then was forced with rescheduling of the release and rewrite of the script. Gangster Squad – starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin – was instead released in January, 2013. The film received mixed reviews, saying that “despite a talented cast, Gangster Squad suffers from lackluster writing, underdeveloped characters, and an excessive amount of violence.” Emma Stone, who played wannabe actress-turned-moll Grace Faraday, instantly fell for the story when she read the screenplay. “It had such a romantic and smoky and nostalgic feel, with a lot of intense action and suspense. I immediately felt that I knew what it must have been like to be a part of that place and time.” She was also eager to work with director Fleischer again, having starred in his film Zombieland. “We sat down and talked about the story and the character, and I said, ‘Of course, let’s do this together.’ I love Ruben, he’s so enthusiastic and his shots are so beautiful.” Stone points out that her character, an entirely fictional creation of screenwriter Will Beall, “moved out to Hollywood to be a star. Not an actress, a star.” Clearly, things didn’t go according to plan. “I imagined she kind of fell in with Mickey’s crowd, and that being on the arm of this incredibly powerful man gave her the admiration she was looking for, so she convinced herself it was alright. Now, even though she feels trapped, she knows that, without him, she’s got maybe a couple of bucks between her and the street.” Fleischer returned the praise by saying: “Emma is not only one of the smartest, funniest actresses I’ve worked with, she’s also somebody you can’t take your eyes off of when she’s onscreen, and that kind of allure is really what this part called for.”
Emma is currently filming the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, with lots of more talented actors joining the cast – Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Shailene Woodley – for the second installment. The synopsis is as following: “For Peter Parker, life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen, high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro, emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.” She’s also developing a movie with one of her favorite directors, Cameron Crowe, with hopes of the film to start shooting sometime this year. Emma’s also rumored for a role in Guillermo del Toro’s horror film Crimson Peak, opposite Charlie Hunnam. With the luxury of being able to choose pratically every project she wants to nowadays, I know we have many, many more interesting character portrayals and movies to look forward to.
Written for Emma Stone Connection with information gathered from various interviews and articles.