After spending the last half-decade playing smart, independent women, Emma Stone was ready for a change: “Now I like women that are totally dependent,” she half-jokes to Rolling Stone. In fact, she’s come to love the “damsel in distress” aspects of her role as Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, in The Amazing Spider-Man (out July 3rd) – as well as her equally vulnerable part in September’s Gangster Squad. “I think my brain might be changing,” she says.
Doing an action movie like The Amazing Spider-Man is a different world for you. What concerns did you have?
When you hear “Spider-Man,” all you picture is green screen and wires and, like, CGI in post. But then they sent me over these top-secret scenes that were really interesting, and I was like, “Well, what do I have to lose just auditioning for something like this?”
Then I went and I read with Andrew [Garfield, who plays Peter Parker], and it was like a full-blown camera test, which I had never done before – with hair and makeup, and in costume and with lighting. It was like we were shooting a movie. I was doing a scene with Andrew, and it all kind of clicked in that the reality of actually shooting this was going to feel like any other movie I’ve done. Because it was grounded and it was realistic, and it was really lovely to find beats with him and to get to work with him, even for those six hours that I was auditioning. I think it’s really easy to put it into a box – like, “It’s just a superhero movie.”
But you do get to fall from buildings, right?
Yeah, then there was the falling off and the swinging, which is pretty fun in the moment, after you’ve done days of scenes where you’re sitting on the bedroom floor. To swing is then kind of exhilarating because you’ve done all of the other stuff.
You don’t really get bad press at this point – it seems like everyone basically loves you. Does it make you worry that the other shoe is going to drop?
Well, I’ve never really seen it that way, that’s very nice of you so say. But yeah, I’m so fatalistic in general and I’m a pretty anxious person in life, so it’s almost like the better things are going, the more terrified I am. But I thought about that in school, too: Like, if I thought, “Oh wow, I’m really getting along with people! All these girls seem to want to be my friend this week,” I would assume that by next week I’ll be old news. So of course I know tomorrow someone’s gonna leave a bag of dog shit on my doorstep. [Laughs]
How did you stay so calm onstage at the Oscars this year?
I think a lot of people thought I was drunk.
Yeah, like right after I came offstage, a lot of people were like, “When you walked out I though you were completely hammered.” But I wasn’t! I was flipping out backstage, of course, then you walk out onstage and you’re like, “OK, I’m in my high school auditorium and everyone is in their underwear” – because in my high school everyone wears their underwear, I guess? And I wasn’t going to look out into the audience, except that one part where I’m like, “Jonah [Hill], come dance with me!” and I look down, and of course he’s sitting right behind Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, so I was like, “They’re not here, they’re a mirage! And it’s only Jonah that I’m comfortable with, he’s my friend.”
People were kind of shocked when you let your hair go back to its natural blond. But why did you dye it red in the first place?
That was a Judd [Apatow] decision; that was a Superbad decision. I dyed my hair brown when I was 15, when I first started auditioning in LA.
So Judd executive produced your hair for like five years?
Yes, Judd executive produced my hair for the past five years. I’m out from under his thumb, thank you! He came into the camera test for Superbad, and Marsha MacIsasc, who was in the movie, had brown hair. And maybe it was just a little differentiation kind of thing, but he said, “Let’s make it red,” so the same person who colors my hair now made it red.
Superbad set an early template for you of playing brainy, confident women.
It’s interesting because now when I’m reading things, my brain for whatever reason is so switched off from that. I think my brain might be changing, and I’m just drawn to something else. But I think for a long time it was something I was really, really drawn to, and obviously they had to pick me, too – it wasn’t just, “Oh, I’d like to do this role.”
But I don’t know why that was the common thread. I think there was something about independent women that was really resonating there for a long time with me, and something that I really felt drawn to. And starting with Spider-Man, the damsel-in-distress aspect of Gwen was appealing to me for the first time. I love the tragedy of this story, I love that she doesn’t win in the end, I love that she’s not one hundred percent confident and she’s constantly surrounded by mortality. I loved that element, and with my part in Gangster Squad it was the same way – she was really broken and kind of had this weird skin on her that was not something that I’m used to. So I think that mentality has been tweaked a bit. I like the more broken people now.
It struck me that you’d be really good in a Woody Allen movie – is that something that you’d like to do?
Don’t even start with me. Come on! The other night I went to see him – he plays clarinet at the Carlyle every Monday night.
Right, I’ve been meaning to go for like 20 years.
Oh! You have to go. It’s the best. I have a lot of pictures. It was so incredible, even being in the room with his energy, I named my dog after him. Well, my dog’s name is Alvie. And he’s got pretty much the same personality type as Woody from what I’ve seen in the movies. He’s definitely a neurotic New Yorker.
Did Woody spot you in the audience?
I didn’t exchange any words with him or anything. I clam up massively when I’m around any of my heroes.
Oh, yeah. People I admire I’m really okay with, but there are people that I literally hold as heroes in my life, who made me want to do what I do and made me understand life in a different way – and he’s one of them. So I wouldn’t be so cool around him.
I have just added an additional 793 HQ and MQ images of Emma Stone attending the Los Angeles premiere of “The Amazing Spider-Man” into our photo gallery! There’s images from the red carpet, inside the theater and at the after party added.
Emma Stone Photo Gallery > Appearances > From 2012 > “The Amazing Spider-Man” Los Angeles Premiere
Emma Stone Photo Gallery > Appearances > From 2012 > “The Amazing Spider-Man” Los Angeles Premiere – Inside
Emma Stone Photo Gallery > Appearances > From 2012 > “The Amazing Spider-Man” Los Angeles Premiere – After Party
Michael J. Fox almost came between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield.
That is, he did it in the form of Scott Howard, the lupine character he played in 1985’s Teen Wolf. And he tangentially came up when Stone and Garfield bantered about their most beloved big-screen offerings the first time they met.
Looking back, says Stone to Garfield: “It was a good day. You asked me what my favorite movie was, and I said City Lights, and you thought I was being pretentious. I asked you what yours was, and you said Teen Wolf. Are you (expletive) kidding me? That’s even more pretentious! Please!”
Retorts Garfield, with no shame: “It’s my comfort movie. It kind of is my favorite movie. We had a giggle. It was a really nice day. I dropped you off at your hotel. We didn’t see each other for months until we started shooting.”
Now, Garfield, 28, and Stone, 23, find themselves in the rather complicated position of promoting a movie in which they play a couple, while they’re also a real-life item — something they resolutely avoid discussing. In The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot of the original trilogy that first starred Tobey Maguire as the titular webslinger, Garfield is Peter Parker, an insecure, insular high-schooler who gets bitten by an arachnid and suddenly finds himself with superpowers that he has to learn to control. Early reviews of the movie, opening tonight in select theaters and nationwide Tuesday, have been largely positive. And Stone is his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, an outspoken, smart and charismatic foil to Peter’s natural reticence.
To him, she’s Em. To her, he’s Garfy. During an interview at the Crosby Street hotel, Garfield and Stone are by turns giggly, focused and affectionate. She’s irresistibly outgoing and pulsates with energy. He’s a little more circumspect and restrained, but can’t sit still and keeps announcing how “hyper” he feels. You sense why they connected, both as actors and as individuals.
First impressions count
“I went and auditioned with this guy who, right now, doesn’t seem like much. But let me tell you, on-screen, what a joy! He’s really one of the best actors. Earmuffs, because I don’t want him to hear it,” says Stone. “He’s incredible to work with. At the audition, I was instantly like, I could learn so much from this person. I didn’t go to theater school. I’m learning by doing.”
Garfield had been reading with actresses when Stone came to meet him and director Marc Webb. “Em was the last, on the last day. I was knackered. I was toast. She came in, and I woke up. I remember what happened in between takes,” says Garfield. “I’d only ever seen her do Zombieland and Superbad. I knew you were funny as hell. We did the breakup scene, and it killed me. I was shocked and surprised and upset. And you were so hard on yourself. In between, she just made me laugh. And I made you laugh.”
The spark wasn’t lost on Webb. “She brought out this humor in him, and he brought out this depth in her. There was a magical quality about them. Andrew has an ability to do emotional gravity really well. Emma’s presence is so light. Put them together and they had spontaneous grounded realism. They were so naturalistic. They never fake things.”
Garfield and Stone found ways to humanize and ground the story, based on the Marvel character with a secret identity. Garfield’s Peter Parker is a loner who skateboards and takes photos, and is desperate to learn what happened to his dead parents. Stone’s Gwen is candid and confident, and befriends Peter, boosting his self-assurance.
Garfield, an American-born, English-bred actor who studied theater in the U.K. and was until now best-known for playing Eduardo Saverin in the 2010 film The Social Network, says he related to Peter entirely.
“I’m a skinny kid. He feels like an underdog. I felt like an underdog. He knows the difference between right and wrong, and I’m pretty sure I do, too,” says Garfield. “That heroic impulse, without having the physical authority to do anything about it. The science mind is something I admire in him that I don’t have. So? Gwen?”
Stone, a veteran of last year’s Oscar-nominated blockbuster The Help, picks up where Garfield left off. “Gwen is the oldest in her family and feels a certain sense of responsibility, and I relate to that. She’s valedictorian. I was first chair in flute. I made sure I got all A’s. It was weird. I didn’t like school at all, but I could not get a B,” says Stone. “I’m not a perfectionist. I was only in school until sixth grade, and then I was home-schooled. Whatever I could control at that time, I felt like I needed to control, which I don’t feel like so much anymore.”
Ask them what they took away from working together, and both seem a little bashful. “It’s so weird to compliment each other,” says Garfield, but with a little urging, he does it anyway. “Oh, boy. A lot. I learned so much. I learned about joy from Em. I learned how work can be — sorry, I’m getting a little bit serious here — I learned how important joy is within a work environment. And when you’re joyous and feeling confident, you can give your best.”
Stone, who wrapped the fall release Gangster Squad with Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling, says she too “learned so much. The level of preparation he comes with is staggering. He moves with you and gives you whatever you need to reach that place. He’s the opposite of an island. So many actors are out for themselves, and that’s the last thing he is. He’s also a total (expletive).”
“She’s a complete (expletive),” says Garfield.
Now, the two are adjusting to headlining a blockbuster. They’ve hop-scotched around the globe, promoting Spider-Man and eliciting the kind of attention neither had tasted before. Stone, with her penchant for zingers and wisecracks, seems like the least angsty person you could meet, but admits that she’s a little freaked out by the possibility of being a massive summer tentpole’s female lead, as opposed to part of an ensemble with The Help.
“I didn’t know this at the time, but this part of it is the biggest challenge. The aftermath. The anonymity loss. Your entire life has changed. My life changed doing the movie. I’ve had an anxiety since I was a kid, and I learned in therapy early on that I’m not supposed to be fatalistic. That’s where my brain goes. I’ve been taught to not think about these things, to not shoot myself into the future, and to not taking parts because it might change my life,” says Stone.
Garfield, despite the attention Social Network garnered, has stayed fairly low-key, recently finishing a Tony-nominated turn on Broadway in Death of a Salesman.
“I occasionally have someone going ‘Where do I know you from?’ It’s begun to be more, because people are more aware of this movie,” says Garfield. “I feel the exact same way as Em. My only hesitation in taking this on was the life effect that it would have. But here we are. So we’ll see. It’s a weird experience to have. It seems like certain people are good at it or welcome it or entertain it. It’s invasive, but you can’t complain. It is what it is. We knew walking in that it was a possibility, and you can privately freak out and, in public, be thankful that you can act for a living.”
“I completely agree,” says Stone. “I’m going to go to bed.”
“The paparazzi can’t get into your bed. Unless you date one,” says Garfield, causing Stone to laugh and cover her face in mock (or perhaps real) horror.
And while on the subject of dating, how do Garfield and Stone address their real-life situation?
“Hey!” says Stone, with a chortle.
“We’re not together in real life!” jokes Garfield. “It’s weird because of that question. We don’t talk about anything personal. That’s just the way it is. Right now, we’re just actors. Em will soon be a producer, too. It’s just something that’s personal, and this is work, really. Even though this interview is a genuine connection.”
Webb won’t go there, either. “Oh, I don’t know, and I’m not going to comment on that,” he says. “I don’t think they’re interested in contributing to celebrity culture. They like acting more than they like publicity. They’re private people.”
And that’s why Stone carefully, and sweetly, explains her unwillingness to discuss Garfield.
“There’s such a great sense of comfort in knowing that the only thing you have control over is what you say. People can say and do all they want. If it never comes out of your own mouth, you still get to keep that semblance of what is sacred to you,” says Stone. “You can’t undo things.”
“It’s pretty simple,” says Garfield.
Thanks to everyone who voted, Emma Stone Connection has been named “Site of the Month” at Portrait Magazine! This is great timing because we celebrate our 4 year anniversary on July 3rd!
Earlier this month we got the chance to shoot some questions at several of the stars and crew of The Amazing Spider-Man, one of these talks being with Emma Stone, who played comic legend Gwen Stacy in the film. She spoke about how she got to know the character Gwen only after having spoken about playing Mary Jane as well as how the big change in working on her first big-name effects film is really in the press tour action.
[Question] What first drew you to this role, this famous role [of Gwen Stacy]?
[Emma Stone] At first I had met Laura Ziskin really early on, just about two weeks after it was announced, [but] for Mary Jane [rather than Gwen Stacy]. And I had always wanted to play Mary Jane. Mary Jane was so great. Then a couple of months went by and he called back and he said we’d like to to audition for the part of Gwen Stacy.’ I was like ‘erm, well, I don’t know who Gwen Stacy is.’ – Because I hadn’t read the comic books growing up. So I looked into the story of Gwen and I just fell in love with Gwen’s story because it is so incredibly epic and tragic and incredible in the way that it affects Peter moving forward with Mary Jane who was another character that I love, obviously, who was enormous. So I took the opportunity to audition, and met Andrew at the audition and got to act with him for the first time.
He is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with, I instantly knew how much I could learn from him and that really, really drew me. That challenge, rising to meet him every day was something really exciting and was a huge learning and growing experience for me, so it was a combination of things.
[Q] When you read the script and first realized that she’s not just the damsel in distress – she’s a big part of saving the day in this, were you more interested in doing the part when you realized you’d be a very strong woman?
[ES] I was cast before I read the script.
[Q] Well were you happy then when you did realize that, then –
[ES] Yeah, yeah, I read the sides, and Sargin had written the sides, who is a genius, wrote Ordinary People and Paper Moon so he’s not too shabby of a writer. And she had felt that way in sides – there was a heartbreaking scene where was an exchange with them that was really sweet, the dinner table scene, that was all kind of in there when I read the sides, so I instantly knew that it was something very different. Obviously he’s such a brilliant writer – I didn’t even know it was written by him, but I was like ‘god these are well written scenes.’ I really, really liked her from those sides.
On-screen chemistry isn’t an exact science, even for Peter Parker.
Director Mark Webb and the producers of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” opening Tuesday, knew that all the CGI-infused fight sequences, 3-D camera tricks and heart-pounding stunts wouldn’t mean a thing if they didn’t find the perfect Peter and an equally perfect Gwen Stacy, Peter’s true love from the original 1960s Marvel comic books.
The already-risky rebooting of the successful Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst franchise from 2002-2007 could have been an experiment gone awry had the casting not clicked. But it proved to be a winning formula once British stage veteran Andrew Garfield, 28, and comedy alumna Emma Stone, 23, emerged from an international casting search.
Webb compares the way Garfield and Stone play off each other in an awkward high school hallway scene to ’50s comic duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
That playful, rapid-fire back-and-forth was on display when the stars of “The Amazing Spider-Man” — now a couple off-screen as well — recently sat down for an exclusive interview with the Daily News.
Daily News: So, this movie plunks Peter Parker back to his high school days. Emma, even though you were home-schooled, between this movie, “Easy A” and “Superbad,” you can’t seem to graduate, even though you’re now 23.
Emma Stone: I know, are you kidding me?! But as long as they cast me in high school, I’ll take it. There’s going to come a day when [if I passed on one of these roles] I would kick my own a— later on if I was like, ‘You complained about playing younger? Really?!’ There’s nowhere to go but up.
Andrew Garfield: Because you’re looking, well, old.
Stone: I am.
Garfield: You’re looking proper old.
Stone: I am looking proper old.
DN: Andrew, did the scenes in high school give you flashbacks to your own high-school days?
Garfield: Yeah, of course. Everyone wants to relive high school and do it better — and I got to do it as Peter Parker, which is the most awesome thing ever.
Stone: Are you serious? If you had the chance to go back and do it again, you’d do it again?
Garfield: Yeah, of course. And you’d do it completely differently?
Stone: Hell, no. But most people say they’d never go back.
Garfield: Yeah, but you were simply at home with your mom.
Stone: Yeah, it was awesome. But I wouldn’t do it again.
Garfield: You were the coolest kid in school!
Stone: I was.
Garfield: … and the least coolest.
Stone: I was. No, just the coolest. I don’t know why you would say that.
Garfield: … and you were the smartest … and the stupidest …
DN: Voted “Most Likely to Succeed”?
Stone: Yes, I was! Also “Best Smile.” And “Cutest Couple.”
Garfield: You and your mom, that’s so adorable.
DN: Listening to you two, you have a great comic timing. Did you hone that for the movie despite coming from very different professional backgrounds?
Stone: I shortened “Backgrounds” to “B.G.’s”.
DN: I just had a Bee Gees song pop into my head. I hope it gets out.
Garfield: It won’t.
Stone: It never will. That’s the miracle of the Bee Gees.
DN: So how did you get that timing down?
Garfield: Really, I followed her and tried to keep up. I had only seen her in “Zombieland” and “Superbad” before we worked together, and I hadn’t seen anything else. And so I knew her as that, the perfect comedian.
In the screen test, I was blown away. We did the breakup scene from the movie [where Peter says he can’t be with Gwen] and then I obviously saw that she could do anything that she wants, ever. And I mean that.
Stone: I’m going to … throw one of these forks! (Stone picks up a fork and pretends to stab Garfield in the leg .)
Garfield: I have a titanium leg. It’s a weird thing, you think you know someone and you never know anyone, really. And I think it’s very rare for an actor to play outside his or her wheelhouse, as it were. And I’m always craving to kick out of my box, and I know you are, as well. And can I speak for her and say she can do anything she wants?
Stone: Thanks for speaking for me. I was just about to say that.
Garfield: I’m going to say what she’s thinking, which is that she’s the best and she can do whatever she wants.
DN: You’re following a franchise that just started 10 years ago. How much did that weigh on your performances?
Garfield: I think the only thing to reference is the Spider-Man canon, as it were. Since Stan Lee wrote the first panel and Steve Ditko drew the first drawing, that’s what you want to be true to, the core of the character and the themes of the story. And the [Tobey Maguire films] were another chapter in that legacy, as we are. We all are [part of the Spider-Man] family. It’s just nice to carry a torch that’s been so well guarded for so long.
DN: How about you, Emma?
Stone: Ech, whatever. (Andrew and Emma both break out laughing.)
DN: Gwen Stacy in this movie is not the typical damsel in distress.
Stone: I wasn’t playing Mary Jane [Dunst’s original role], so that was a bit of a relief. It was nice to start fresh. You’re right, Gwen doesn’t come across as a damsel in distress. She’s incredibly responsible and has to be — she’s the eldest kid in her family, and is constantly fearing that her dad [police Capt. Stacy] is going to die in his job every day. And then ultimately, her boyfriend, Peter, is in the same kind of position.
However. When I first read [the original comics] I was really taken aback by her story. And I found it so staggering, so stunning, such a stamp on pop culture history.
Garfield: Good alliteration.
Garfield: Good alliteration.
Stone: Stunning and stamp. And stupid! I thought it was stupid, Stan Lee! No, I thought it was just so fascinating. Any story — story — that causes people to burn their comic books and cancel their subscriptions is a story that I want to be a part of! (Note: Gwen Stacy has a very tragic arc in the Spider-Man universe. ’Nuff said .)
DN: Andrew, are you ready for the level of fame that’s coming with your face plastered on billboards all over the world?
Garfield: It’s not my face, man, it’s not my face. Isn’t that awesome? It’s so reassuring that it’s a mask. Kids aren’t driving by the billboards saying, “The British actor Andrew Garfield!” They’re going, “That’s f—ing Spider-Man!”
DN: What’s the best thing about living in New York?
Garfield: I’ve been living here for six months, because I [was] doing “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway, and I’ve never felt at home at a place like this. I went skateboarding around the other night after the last show of “Salesman.” I was exhausted — we had done two shows that day and we had gone out and had a great night, all the cast — but I got home at 2, and I just had so much energy, I went skating through all the people. I had Cat Stevens music playing in my ear. This city is just magical. I’m very earnest.
Stone: Ernest Goes to Camp.
Garfield: Ernest Scared Stupid.
Stone: New York is where my heart is. It always has been. I’ve been here three years now, and I came here first when I was 7 years old to see my first play. I saw “Les Miz” and I was like this (eyes widen, mouth slack-jawed ). I don’t know how you would print that [amazed face.] I was like, “Wow!”
So we would come out here two or three times a year to see shows. I mean, Phoenix. Arizona — say what you will about it, but there’s not a whole lot of culture.
DN: It is very hot though.
Stone: It is very hot. So that’s great.
Garfield: And you have such olive skin, that’s the perfect place for you.
Stone: It was the perfect place for me to grow up — I didn’t burn or anything! This was home instantly, the moment I got here. It’s so nice to live in New York. I love New York.
Garfield: You should get one of those shirts.
Where you’ve seen her: As the sarcastic object of Jonah Hill’s affections in “Superbad”; as a cynical postapocalyptic drifter in “Zombieland”; as the high school student labeled as promiscuous in “Easy A”; as the aspiring writer in “The Help” who spotlighted African-American maids’ point of view in the ’60s South.
Her first role: Starring in a school production of “No Turkey for Perkie” alongside the fifth-graders when she was in first grade.
How she got here: Suffering from panic attacks as a kid and partly home-schooled, Stone found solace in acting. To convince her parents to let her move to Hollywood as a 15-year-old, she showed them a Powerpoint presentation. It worked.
“The Powerpoint presentation was okay, it wasn’t that great,” says Stone now. “I made my mom and dad popcorn, which I think was their favorite part.”
Emma Stone talks with TheWrap about her new movie.
Emma Stone made her latest stop on The Amazing Spider-Man’s press tour last night at the movie’s LA premiere. The actress, who arrived in an embellished Chanel gown and spiked Christian Louboutin heels, talked with us during our live broadcast from the red carpet. Emma told us she and Andrew have been way too tired on their whirlwind press tour to keep up the pranks they pulled on each other on set, and she also talked about how he helped her build her confidence as an actress. Check out the interview and catch The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters July 3.