The kids at Ojai North High School don’t know a good thing when they see one. Why else would they treat Olive Penderghast, the adorable and self-aware 17-year-old at the center of the morality farce Easy A, as if she barely exists?
Or, as Olive says in her Gen Facebook jargon, “If Google Earth were a guy, he couldn’t find me if I was dressed up as a 10-story building.”
But all it takes is one little white lie about sleeping with a community-college boy and, as quick as you can text “OMG,” she has been declared the school slut — which she cleverly uses to her own advantage.
Turning Hollywood heads
As for the 21-year-old who plays her, the bewitching Emma Stone had only to snag the right lead role to catch Hollywood’s attention after stand-out supporting parts in such humorous fare as Superbad, The House Bunny and Zombieland.
Perfect crimson-coated smile, blue-green saucer eyes, red mermaid hair, slim body and a throaty laugh — little wonder such lad mags as Maxim and FHM put her on hot lists.
Holding court on an outdoor terrace, Stone is like a queen accepting suitors instead of a rising starlet being grilled by the press. Platters of fresh fruit and gourmet cookies come and go, but not before she indulges in each with gusto as she charms her steady stream of visitors.
Turns out Stone’s plane landed at 5 a.m. and she’ll have to take off right after Easy A’s world premiere that night so she can appear on MTV’s Video Music Awards with close friend Taylor Swift the next day. That’ll be followed by Easy A’s L.A. premiere. (Her hard work paid off as the teen comedy held in there against crime drama The Town, coming in at No. 2.)
“I can see how tired I am for sure,” says the actress, waving away remarks to the contrary. But when your dreams are coming true, who needs sleep?
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native knew she wanted to be an actress even as a child. For two years starting in sixth grade, Stone was home-schooled while performing in local productions of Cinderella, The Wizand Alice in Wonderland.
She eventually resorted to a PowerPoint presentation to convince her parents that she should leave high school after one semester as a freshman and head to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
What sold them? “A lot of alliteration,” she says. “A pretty interesting wipe (film lingo for a fancy transition from one scene to another). Music.” Specifically, Madonna’s Hollywood. “She does not know that she is indirectly responsible for me being here today.”
A person more directly responsible is Will Gluck, Easy A’s director. Stone was the first hopeful to audition (“I made sure I was,” she says) and nabbed it after taping her own version of Olive’s webcam confessional. “She has the innate ability to play six or seven different emotions all at once — hot, cold, happy, sad, angry, funny, upset,” he said in an earlier phone interview.
Easy A is only the beginning of Stone’s current roll. Coming next spring is Crazy, Stupid Love opposite Steve Carell, Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling. Down the road is The Croods, a DreamWorks computer-animated caveman comedy.
‘Help’ is on the way
But Stone’s highest-profile project is the drama she is shooting in Greenwood, Miss.: The Help, based on the best seller about black maids in the ’60s as the civil rights movement heats up. She dons a curly blond wig and 3-inch lifts to play Skeeter, the writer who tells the women’s story.
And this Gilda Radner worshiper will get her ultimate wish and host Saturday Night Live on Oct. 23. “Shhh,” Stone says when the subject is brought up. “My eyes are starting to water. I will totally cry.” Asked if that’s because she is happy, Stone enthuses, “Oh, my God, you have no idea.”
The Box-Office Top Five
#1 “The Town” ($23.8 million)
#2 “Easy A” ($18.2 million)
#3 “Devil” ($12.6 million)
#4 “Resident Evil: Afterlife” ($10.1 million)
#5 “Alpha and Omega” ($9.2 million)
In a weekend stacked with new movies, the bank-robbery action pic “The Town” ran the box office. The film, which took the top spot on Friday, roped in an estimated $23.8 million, a showing that has probably eased the mind of director Ben Affleck, who once told MTV News that he felt “a huge amount of pressure” crafting the flick.
The high-school laugh-getter “Easy A,”, received decent marks from audiences, coming in at #2. The teen-friendly comedy, driven by rising screen star “Emma Stone, who fought through an asthma attack to complete one of the film’s pretend-sex scenes, rang up $18.2 million in ticket sales.
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest project “Devil,” featuring a crew of strangers trapped in an elevator as creepy stuff goes down in the confined space, nabbed the third-place slot. The thriller, which even gets a few screams out of Shyamalan, posted $12.6 million during its debut in theaters.
“Resident Evil: Afterlife,” slipped to fourth place in its second week on screens. Pushed down by three hearty debuts, the zombie-blasting Milla Jovovich-vehicle raked in another $10.1 million. The number brings the film’s total haul to an estimated $44 milllion. In addition to the film’s strong showing, Jovovich recently confirmed that a fifth “Resident Evil” movie is on the way.
The animated cross-country adventure “Alpha and Omega,”, packed with voice-over performances from a diverse cast of stars including Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper, came in fifth place. The story of two wolves (voiced by Long and Panettiere) making their way back home opened with an estimated $9.2 million.
“Easy A” star Emma Stone took over the FOD Twitter account. Awesomeness ensued.
On Wednesday, Easy A star Emma Stone took over the Funny or Die Twitter account and answered your questions. Needless to say, there were some highlights. Now enjoy those highlights, and after you’re done enjoying them go see Easy A which opens this weekend!
@LisztNut: Did you play your own bass in The Rocker?
Emma: I did indeed. I’m available for parties.
@esullymaz: Emma, First of all, I love you. Second, Who is your favorite comedian?
Emma: Gilda Radner. And standup Louis CK.
@bluntman42: How was the VMAs??
Emma: It sucked. But did you like my meat dress?
@xxzombielover: How were you in high school (nerdy, popular, goth)?
Emma: I was an incredibly popular nerdy goth. That was home schooled.
@DanWilkinson: Hey Emma! Ok, so what is your favourite memory from the set of a movie?
Emma: Bill Murray days on Zombieland. The “two days of Bill” as I call them.
@rillawafers: is Easy A just like the Scarlet Letter?
Emma: Exactly like it. You could read the book instead if you wanted to.
@knot2appetizing: would you be up for a Superbad sequel
Emma: Absolutely, did you write one?
Though she only started acting in films three years ago and never played a leading role before now, it’s hard to not be a fan of Emma Stone. Beautiful, charming, smart and fun to watch, she can easily be ranked among the top five actors under 25 with her performances in Superbad and Zombieland alone. But she enters a whole new world with her newest film, Easy A.
Appearing in nearly every scene of Will Gluck’s film and narrating the ones she doesn’t, it’s truly the first litmus test that she’s had as a star and she pulls it off with flying colors. Playing the Hester Prynne role in a story that takes heavy notes from The Scarlet Letter, she’s smart and engaging enough that all demographics can enjoy the film.
I was lucky enough to sit down with her at a junket where she discussed the pressures that come with a leading role, the PowerPoint presentation that brought her to Hollywood and what it was like doing takes that lasted 30 minutes at a time.
So, to start, you’re in basically 100% of this film. How much pressure did that put on you?
It was less about the size of the role and more about doing the role justice itself, I think. Yeah, that was my concern throughout the whole thing. Yeah, the size of it you can’t really think about too much or else you go crazy. By you, I mean me. I’m really neurotic. Yeah.
Will was talking about your audition and going back home and taping your webcam segment. Tell me about how that came about and what your approach was when you did that.
Taping the webcam?
Well, I was not happy needless to say, when he asked me to do that. Because I know myself. I knew that if I had the control I was going to do it over and over and over and over because you don’t want to send something and be like, “That is the best I can do.” You know? Like, that’s the one. I knew I was never going to feel that way. So, I did that for a couple hours. It’s like a one-minute monologue, and I did it over and over and over. Then, finally, my roommate was like, “Just send it. Come on.” I was like, “All right. Fine. Fine. I’ll do it one more time. Just one more.” And then sent it. Yeah. So, I just did it that night. It was right after the audition and just went home and tried to get it out of the way. Because the longer I waited the worse it was going to get.
It’s really hard for women to find great roles in comedy. Yet, you’re obviously very skilled and you’ve found some great roles throughout your career, but they’ve all been support parts so far.
What was it like when you read the script and it was the lead role and, I’m assuming, a smart script because the film is very smart.
Yeah. Oh, the script was wonderful. You feel like you struck gold or something when you read a well-written comedy part for a female. It’s just such a rare thing, which is horribly sad. Although, it is nice nowadays, it seems like more female comedians are developing movies or coming up with characters and working with writers and kind of making your own thing, and that’s what Anna did for The House Bunny. But, I couldn’t have been more grateful even to read it much less be involved with it. It was fantastic.
Are you big on technology?
I love it. I love it. But, I can’t get too involved in the Internet. I am an Internet fan, needless to say. Since I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a website designer. So, I made those when I was a kid. In my day, there weren’t any blogs or social networks. It was all e-zines and drop-down menus. So, I had been, like anybody that is an Internet lover knows, it’s been fascinating to watch the progression of social networking and the blogosphere and the shear speed of it all. The fact that you can transfer pictures so quickly and all the programs they’ve come out with. So yes, needless to say, I love it and have an addictive personality and can’t use it, any of it. Because if I have a Twitter or Facebook, that’s all I will do. So, I don’t. But, I completely appreciate it and can see the good in it. It’s funny, I have a friend that is like, “I can’t believe all the world is so…it’s just shrinking. It’s so awful.” I’m like, “But think about for marketing’s sake on Twitter. Think about how you could do this and this and the…”I love it. I love it.
What is your favorite gear? Like computers, iPads.
I actually don’t have an iPad. I have the 4G iPhone, which drops calls. You know, I’m not very computer savvy. It’s more Internet. It’s more HTML based than coding or whatever. But I’m not very good with Flash or anything like that. Is that still a current thing to talk about, Flash? I haven’t been to many websites in awhile.
She could have been typecast as Laurie Partridge. Instead, she’s a bona fide movie star.
Scottsdale, Ariz., native Emma Stone left her freshman year at Xavier 8 College Preparatory to try her hand at showbiz. Six years later – and after well-received supporting roles in “Zombieland” and “Superbad” – she’s on the verge of becoming Hollywood’s next big thing. Both Vanity Fair (high-brow!) and Maxim (horny!) rave about the 21-year-old, and she’s earning love-letter notices for her role as Olive in “Easy A,” her first above-the-title flick. It’s a long way from her first big gig: She won a 2004 VH1 reality show about casting a new “Partridge Family.”
Stone, suffering from vocal-cord nodes, agreed to answer questions by e-mail.
Question: Any jitters about carrying a film like this?
Answer: I think during the course of shooting it was less nerves and more a test of endurance. Or maybe I was just so nervous that I blocked it out. We shot in 30 days, which was a very short period of time from a filming standpoint, so we all really had to buckle down and get a lot done really quickly every day.
Question: What attracted you to the role?
Answer: Everything. I really liked Olive. I felt like I could understand the way her mind works, her relationship with her family, why she decides to do what she does. It was cleverly written and smart and funny and unique, and all of those are rare in a script that’s calling itself a comedy, especially combined.
Question: You had great chemistry with Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, who play your parents. Were they fun to work with?
Answer: Hands down my favorite three days on-set. They’re great. They really are the best. The way they work together and how open they were with me, it was just a great few days. They elevate everything. They always do.
Question: Were there any parallels with your real parents?
Answer: Coincidentally, my parents actually are similar in a lot of ways with the parents in the movie. More from a communication standpoint. They have always understood me and accepted me for who I am. I’m incredibly lucky they’re my family. You couldn’t really ask for a better one.
Question: The first time we talked to you was when you were competing on “In Search of the Partridge Family.” Where do you think you’d be if “The New Partridge Family” had succeeded?
Answer: It’s hard to guess what could have been in any situation in life. Who knows? I’m so glad that happened, though, getting to be a part of it. It was ridiculous, I will say now, but it introduced me to some of the most important people in my life to this day. I have to give credit where credit is due. “The New Partridge Family” may well hold the reign of being the best thing I ever did, life-wise and circumstantially. Who would’ve thought?
Screenslam’s own Shawn Cauthen sits down with Emma Stone to get the 411 on what it’s like to spend a day in her shoes, when she’s not busy filming. Emma’s newest film, Easy A, comes out Friday the 17th of September. It is a must watch for anyone that loves High School comedies.
Easy A hits theaters today and I was lucky enough to get a few minutes to speak with the lovely and talented Emma Stone who was enjoying her first starring role after co-starring in such great films as Superbad, The House Bunny and Zombieland.
If you’re not familiar the story of Easy A it’s actually a rather intriguing update on the literary classic The Scarlett Letter, with a modern twist. In order to help her gay best friend who is being bullied in school Olive (Emma Stone) feigns losing her virginity to the boy to save him from ridicule. When more boys trying to up their social standing approach Olive for her services as well, she opens for business pushing the high school rumor mills into overdrive.
While the film does hearken back to the teen craze of the late 90s this film takes a slightly more realistic and jaded approach to high school life.
What drew you to play the role of Olive?
First of all, it’s really rare to read a really well-written, fleshed-out, funny character that’s female, especially in a comedy, and so that’s exciting right off the bat. Then I just thought the script is so clever, and I really liked Olive’s perspective on things. She’s no damsel in distress, so I just really liked her all around as a character and loved the script itself.
Did you have any experiences in high school that are similar to that of your character? Were there any particular traits that you felt you had in common with the Olive?
Well, circumstantially, I really didn’t have anything in common with Olive because I was homeschooled for most of high school. So, I was kind of on my own for most of that experience.
As far as personality goes, I think she and I are pretty eerily similar in a lot of ways. That might be one of the reasons I responded so quickly to her when I read the script. I could kind of understand her viewpoint and where she was coming from and what it was like to have a family like that because I have really open, straight parents that we talk about everything.
So I liked seeing that kind of cool relationship she had with her family. Yes, I feel like we have a lot in common personality-wise, but I did not have her high school experience.
The story seems to take several stereotypical teen clichés and flip-flop the roles, empowering what is usually simply a supporting character and making her the main protagonist. Do you think a film like Easy A could have been made like say ten years ago?
A big part of it—even beyond the character roles or flipping certain stereotypes on their ear—is the speed of technology now and the digital age and text messaging and Twitter and that type of communication and her being able to not atone but explain everything that’s happened into her webcam and having people be able to see it.
So, I’m sure there could have been some differences ten years ago that would have been similar, but to me, it feels so kind of time sensitive, the issues that we’re dealing with, so it feels like a kind of modern-times movie to me. But in terms of the characters, I would hope that those are relatively timeless.
Showbiz Shelly interviews “Easy A” star Emma Stone about doing fake sex scenes in her new movie and how they can cause asthma attacks, her friendship with Taylor Swift, whether she’s a natural redhead or not and more!