They’re no strangers to glamming it up on the red carpet, and now, beauties Emma Stone and Olivia Wilde will be glamming it up together as the new global brand ambassadors for Revlon. The up-and-coming actresses will appear in various television, print and digital campaigns beginning in early 2012.
“Revlon recognizes that every woman is multifaceted and magnificent in their own way and the expression of individuality is as important to Revlon as it is to me,” Stone, who has been known to experiment with makeup in the past, said in a statement. And for her, the connection to the brand stems from childhood. “I have been familiar with Revlon for as long as I can remember,” she added. “I vividly recall my mom wearing Revlon makeup and I remember getting to the age when I was finally able to wear Revlon myself.”
For Wilde, being the face of a brand that’s committed to helping others was key. “I have always admired Revlon and their commitment to giving women the confidence and tools they need to feel beautiful, both inside and out,” she said. “Creatively, Revlon has never been afraid to push the envelope, which is important to me. I also love that they use their tremendous recognizability around the world to do good as one of the industry’s biggest champions of women’s health. It’s exciting to join a company with a big heart and big ideas!”
The duo’s first campaigns will be tied to the launch of new color cosmetics and nail enamel products. They’ll also participate in Revlon’s fundraising efforts for women’s health issues; the brand has raised more than $65 million for women’s cancer research in the past 10 years.
Emma Stone has had a meteoric rise in her film career in four short years. From impressing with her 2007 film debut in “Superbad,” she has moved rapidly through “Zombieland,” “Easy A” and is coming up as Skeeter Phelan in “The Help.”
Born Emily Jean Stone in Scottsdale, Arizona, she famously convinced her parents to attempt an acting career by showing them a power point presentation. The newly crowned Emma Stone made her first appearance in 2005 as Laurie Partridge in a short-lived reboot of “The Partridge Family,” and made a splash through appearances in popular films like “The House Bunny.” The last month has seen three films featuring her performances, with a cameo in “Friends with Benefits,” a meatier role in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and her lead in The Help.
HollywoodChicago interviewed Emma Stone in anticipation of The Help, and she spoke of her experience on the film with reverence, at the same time denying her status as a “movie star.”
HollywoodChicago.com: After researching and playing Skeeter, what circumstances of her life are you glad you don’t have to deal with, living in this era of America?
Emma Stone: I’m glad that that it’s not expected behavior to graduate high school, get married and have a baby. Skeeter was my age, and if I had a child now I don’t know how it would turn out, right now I couldn’t imagine it. I’m really glad that it’s not odd for women to enter a career path before that happens or while it happens. I’m quite happy not to be in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963 under these circumstances.
HollywoodChicago.com: Skeeter is different from her friends for a couple reasons, the connection she had with her nanny growing up and the fact that she wants a career over getting married. How did you feel you best embodied those two characteristics in her character when researching the role?
Stone: I can never judge how it came out in my portrayal, I have no control over that. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to ever say, ‘here’s what I’m trying to convey’ or ‘this is what I’m expressing to the audience.’ My only goal is to feel right within myself and to be true to the character. I was lucky that Kathryn [Stockett, the novel’s author] wrote an incredible character and Tate [Taylor, the writer/director] translated it beautifully in the screenplay, and I was trying to stay true to the Skeeter they wrote. She already had that balance, so playing her in truth hopefully came across, and that was my ultimate goal.
HollywoodChicago.com: Cicely Tyson is a legendary actor who also happened to be an adult woman during the period of The Help. Did she offer any perspective about those times while you were working with her on set?
Stone: Cicely is an incredible actress, a complete living legend. We only worked together one day and she is a method actor in a certain way because she only wanted to be referred to on the set as her character Constantine and she treated me just as Skeeter. It was amazing because I’d never really worked with someone who operates in that way. It was old school. It was wonderful.
The only time we talked about the 1960s and the civil rights movement was when we had breakfast together. It was a story about how she decided to quit eating fried foods and crappy foods because the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, she got a real intense chest pain. She went to the doctor and they told her it was a hernia, so she has eaten healthy ever since. She went to King’s funeral with her husband, Miles Davis.
HollywoodChicago.com: Even though The Help is a piece of fiction, which actual men or women do you admire from that 1960s era and what made them as brave as Skeeter in what they did?
Stone: There are so many people in research, like Medgar Evers or Dr. King, those people that made such a difference back then. Personally, having to do with the journalism, I read and admire Tom Wolfe. Also Skeeter and I are deeply effected by the music of Bob Dylan.
HollywoodChicago.com: After you get a little power as an actress with box office success and recognition, how do you pick roles that best will represent you and keep your career viable? How do you feel about that process?
Stone: That process, that mentality is brand new to me. It mostly comes from your agents and manager. They are concerned about the monetary issues and such, but my mentality is to disassociate from anything to that effect, and pick roles that mean the most to me. One of the only upsides to life changing in that way is that for the first time you actually get the opportunity to choose what you want to do, what stories you want to tell and what you want to be a part of. That should have nothing to do with career ‘trajectory’ or anything like that. All the people I love and respect just made films they cared about. One of my mentors is Woody Harrelson, who has talked to me about never compromising and never making choices that you don’t want to make.
HollywoodChicago.com: How is Marc Webb, the director of ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ creating a new platform for the upcoming ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ and how was the experience like becoming part of Superheroland?
Stone: Very interesting becoming part of Superheroland. I liked the change and evolution. It’s a different story this time around and Marc was keen about telling it in a different way. It was a lot for him, there are a lot of opinions and impressions. He handled it really well, even when balancing a million things. I can’t imagine being a director, that must be the hardest job, except maybe being a parent. [laughs]
HollywoodChicago.com: Do you find it more difficult to maneuver through the emotional minefields of your own relationships when you are a so-called ‘celebrity’? Does it make it more difficult?
Stone: I wouldn’t consider myself a so-called ‘celebrity.’ Arrrgh, for the love of God! [laughs] For sure! Quit it. I have no experience outside my own. It like people asking me what was it like not going to your high school graduation. I don’t know, because I didn’t go! I have no experience outside my own, so I really couldn’t tell you the difference navigating my life as compared to anyone else.
HollywoodChicago.com: Since you have three major motion pictures opening only weeks apart from each other, do you feel you change a bit as a person after every role you play? Does the experience of different movie sets provide you with a creative evolution?
Stone: Absolutely. It’s funny, but I don’t know that because it’s 2011 and everything moves so rapidly with the internet culture, but I just bounced, bounced and bounced from film to film. When I look at the resumes of actors of the past, like my favorite Diane Keaton, she made five movies in the 1970s. My next film will be my fifteenth, and that is in five years. That’s cuckoo bananas! If I didn’t take everything as a learning experience that would be really frickin’ sad. It’s basically like I’m taking acting classes in front of everybody now. [laughs]
It’s huge growth, huge change and it’s like being at summer camp over and over again. You’re in these little groups of people, and then you move to another group of people, like summer camp back-to-back-to-back. You always are changed when you come back from summer camp. [laughs]
“The Help” opens everywhere August 10th. Featuring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Cicely Tyson, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek. Adapted for the screen and directed by Tate Taylor. Rated “PG-13”
“The Help” marks the third Emma Stone movie released in four weeks, following “Friends with Benefits” and “Crazy Stupid Love.” Isn’t she worried about, uh, Stone-verkill?
“Stone-verkill! Yes! Coined a word,” Stone exclaims, laughing. “I’m always worried about Stone-verkill. I have to live with me every day. I’ve had to listen to my voice way too much the past week. I probably shouldn’t do anything ever again.”
That self-deprecating sense of humor and irresistible charm is part of why the 22-year-old actress has become such a hot Hollywood commodity, with her biggest role having just finished filming (in next year’s superhero reboot “The Amazing Spider-Man”). In “The Help,” opening Aug. 10, Stone leads a fantastic cast of actresses in writer-director Tate Taylor’s adaptation of the bestselling book by his longtime friend Kathryn Stockett.
The story centers on African-American maids in highly prejudiced 1963 Mississippi who finally have a place to voice their life experiences, thanks to a book by Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Stone). The movie co-stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as the maids who serve as Skeeter’s most prominent sources, and Bryce Dallas Howard as the community’s most unbridled racist who refuses to share a bathroom with her maid.
At the Elysian Hotel, Arizona-native, New York-dwelling Stone talked about becoming Southern for “The Help,” releasing her rage while weightlifting and going back to high school for “Spider-Man.”
You put a lot of work into your Southern accent for “The Help.” How do you think it turned out, and how often do you accidentally slip back into it?
I don’t know how it turned out. I worked really hard on it. It was incredibly difficult for me because it’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, and I’m not that coordinated. I slip back into it whenever I’m around [Mississippi native director Taylor].
What sounds were the hardest?
All the “wh’s.” (In Southern accent) “White.” “Where?” (No accent) That was difficult for me. (Back to Southern accent) “What?”
When you were filming “The Help,” how aware were you of how much things have or haven’t changed?
We were shooting in Greenwood, Miss., and it was the only place I think in the world that we could have made the movie accurately. Just the location alone, you could feel the history and you could feel the difference, but it’s all so informed by how recent this all was. It’s a strange balance that’s being struck in Mississippi right now. Really, really wonderful people, but you’re on the Tallahatchie River six miles from where Emmett Till’s body was found, and it’s kind of impossible to forget that while you’re making it. So I definitely became more aware of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
RedEye reader @blairjanis wanted to know: How much of a person’s character is shaped by the times they live in?
I think a pretty damn fair amount. I believe that nurture outweighs nature so much of the time in human beings. It’s hard to tell because you don’t really know what your nature is until you get really angry and you’re kinda primal. [Laughs.] I think that it affects us hugely in ways that we don’t even realize. I will probably check my phone within the next 20 minutes. If this were 20 years ago I wouldn’t even have a phone to check, and that’s keeping me connected to all these people that I speak to back home, which is maintaining relationships that I wouldn’t have been able to maintain throughout the day 20 years ago. It’s shaping the way I maintain relationships with people and the way I speak to people. That’s talking about the technological aspect of our time, but I think that the cultural aspect of our time, you either go with it or you fight against it.
So what happens when you get angry?
Blind rage. I also find out that I’m filled with rage when weightlifting. Who knew? It’s all bubbling right under the surface. I do not feel like a rage-filled human at any other point in time, but when I’m weightlifting, I’m a lunatic.
What are you benching right now?
Nothing. I am not benching anymore. [Laughs.] I want to make it through my days, man.
This summer we’ve seen “Bridesmaids” and “Bad Teacher,” and people are talking a lot about women in comedy. Mila Kunis was on the cover of GQ saying some people don’t find women funny and some just see them as attractive. She’s also not wearing much on the cover. What can you do to be seen as funny and attractive without having to minimize one or the other?
I think you just have to be totally and completely yourself. Mila’s a friend of mine and I think she’s awesome and she’s one of the most beautiful human beings on the planet, and incredibly funny, so you choose your own path. There’s no one you can emulate in any sense. I think Tina Fey said, I’m completely paraphrasing, but the basic idea of what she said was you really can’t follow anyone’s specific career path, you kind of have to make your own. And I believe that to be true the most in this business, in any business, in any life, you have to follow your heart and do what’s right for you in your life. If you’re comfortable being done up and also being funny, then why not get done up and be funny? And if you’re not comfortable with it, then don’t do it.
Some people say, “How can she say this about attractiveness vs. comedy and then pose this way on the cover?”
There [are] other elements that come into play too. You realize when you’re shooting for a men’s magazine there’s going to be that skew. It just depends on the thing and the time period and your personal opinion.
At one point your goal was to host “SNL,” and now you’ve done it. When will you join the cast full-time?
Oh my God, I. Will. Do it right now. If you will let me. Do you cast the show?
I do. They just gave me that power.
Great! Can I be in the cast please?
Great! Perfect. Then right now. I’m ready.
How do you feel about going back to high school for “The Amazing Spider-Man”?
It’s pretty fun. In “Crazy Stupid Love” I’m 27 and in “The Help” I was 23 and then I’m 17 again [in “Spider-Man”] and it was lovely. I like getting younger and younger as time goes on. I’m like “Benjamin Button.” [Laughs.]
How confusing is that for your emotional state?
I don’t know how well I did as a 17-year-old this go-round, but we’ll see.
You seem to be climbing People’s Most Beautiful List, among other lists. Is it true that people become more beautiful as they become more famous?
[Laughs.] What an interesting theory. Um, apparently. I guess that’s a … notion. I don’t know what the hell is going on. [Laughs.]
On picking the right roles: “[Doug Wald, my manager], is brilliant, and we have long discussions about all these scripts. He’s been my manager since I was 15, so this whole time I’ve got a real teammate in terms of picking things. It’s also not like I just get my pick of the litter. It’s like a relationship. Like, ‘Wow, I think you’re really attractive. Do you want to date me?’ The answer is either yes or no, and sometimes they do not want to date you unfortunately. The movies are not into you.”
On feedback from strangers: “I try not to put too much stock into anything people say, negative or positive. [Laughs.]”
On the worst thing she’s ever eaten: “I drank some sour almond milk the other day. It was disgusting. It was a horrible, horrible experience. I only took a sip.”
On her iPod: “I’m listening to Noah and the Whale. Have you heard that? It’s pretty good. And that new Fleet Foxes album. I’m listening to this song by Audiobullies called ‘Only Man.’ That’s what pumps me up, if we’re being honest. That’s what really pumps me up right now.
At a recent press junket in Los Angeles I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Emma Stone about her new film “The Help.”
The film The Help is based on the number one New York Times best seller by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s, it follows the lives and relationships of three women who build an unlikely friendship while writing a secret project that will break social rules. When Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone), a recent graduate, gets a writing job about cleaning hints, she seeks advise from Aibileen (Viola Davis), her best friends maid. Aibileen has been a house keeper her whole life, having raised 17 children total from her employers. When Skeeter enters her life, Aibileen finds herself opening up and telling her stories for the first time from her life. We soon find other maids coming forward with their stories and a sisterhood emerges. From this bond Skeeter is able to compile a book with a new point from the help. By finding their unique voices these women are able to triumph and become the heroes of their own lives.
The Help, also co-stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, and Sissy Spacek.
What was the research process and what did you learn from this kind of role?
Emma: Well I was lucky that Skeeter was a relatively kind of modern woman with the kind of goals I had in my life. Having her own career and not necessarily wanting to get married and having kids at 22. I’m 22 right now. In terms to relating to that time period she felt different then her peers. It was the other things like learning about that time period and how limited my knowledge was and getting to realize that Skeeter’s knowledge was also relatively limited. She learned so much as long as that process went on. Reading about the Jim Crow Laws and reading about Mississippi in the early 1960’s. Learning the dialect that alone was huge and a large part of the process. When I’m with actors now who are from different countries or have different accents. I’m like how do you, is it constantly. It’s like you have this filter in your head and you got to go through that. It’s such an interesting addition to the process.
Did you stay in the dialect the whole time?
Emma: No, I didn’t stay in the dialect but I can understand why people do. It’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. You’re trying to get to a point and then you’re like ahh I got to add this dialect on top of it.
Did the character of Skeeter show you the different side to Journalism?
Emma: When I was a kid I wanted to be a journalist. I went to school for Journalism. I’ve always seen why journalism can be a great thing. I think that’s another reason I was excited to play Skeeter, I kept to be a journalist thats fantastic. I grew up loving Tom Wolf, that’s the stuff I read, it was incredible. So I was already a big journalist fan. I think we do something similar. We read scripts, you interview people and we beak them down and try to get these points across and parts across. We both have a lot of interest in humanity and what makes people tick and the psychology of human beings. We’re not so different you and I.
Some actors are afraid to talk with journalist because they think we’re going to write something bad?
Emma: And some do. Just like some actors do parts to look sexy and wear a bikini. There are also some actors that have a different mentality. There are so many writers that do what they do because they’re interested and want to know more and love movies just as we love movies.
How was the experience on working on this set?
Emma: In terms of life experience I highly doubt I would have lived for three months in Greenwood, Mississippi and gotten to know people in a town like that. Just seeing what that side of America is like. There are a lot of interesting facets to our job in that you get to be paid to enter a different life and to enter a different mind set of your character. To learn about the history of that time or to learn new skills. I learned to shoot guns for other movies. In this I got to learn about a part of history that is important and hugely informative to where we are now and still being struggled with now. How we grow as a person is irreplaceable. The friendships that where made and the fun that we had, it was just an incredible summer.
Emma’s you’ve talk about your appreciation for sketch comedy and I was excited when you got to host SNL. Was it everything that you’ve had hope for?
Emma: It was the best thing I’ve done in my life.
Are we going to see you back in comedies or is it just dramas from now on?
Emma: Oh no God, no, no, no. Sketch comedy is my theater. I just love it, more then anything in the whole world, it makes me so happy. I’m coasting from the SNL experience, now I have no other goal. It’s all down hill from here. Nothing can ever be bad again. But absolutely I should be so luck to continue to do anything along the lines of comedy. It’s just so amazing to just do anything you love and passionate about whether it falls under the comedy or drama umbrella. Whether it’s a movie or play or hosting a variety show.
So how do you stay grounded among all the success?
Emma: Well nobody is really following me around that much.
The Help is in theaters August 10th.
There’s plenty of history that’s seeped deep within the proverbial veins of America. Some of it may be great, but there’s an equal amount of awful prejudice that has been intertwined with this nation for many years. Although we got rid of segregation against minorities decades ago, we still can’t forget that part of our history. That’s where Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” comes in. The novel brings us back into the midst of the civil rights movement that brings to light how, despite the obstacles, equal rights can still be achieved.
We got the opportunity to converse with several of the stars from “The Help.” The biggest stars easily were actresses Viola Davis and Emma Stone, two of many strong women that fill out the main cast. We talked to them about the crazy amount of competition for the roles, this dark part of America’s recent history and the advice, or lack thereof, that flowed on set.
ShockYa: The book was incredibly popular when it came out. Did you read it before you did the film and did that make you want to be a part of the film?
Emma Stone: I read it after I read the script. My mom had read it and people that I knew had read it, but she’s got a better answer to that one.
Viola Davis: I actually don’t have a better answer, but I did read the book, and I absolutely wanted to be a part of it. You just want to be a part of anything that has a lot of roles for black actresses. You just don’t stumble upon it. Usually it’s maybe one, maybe two black roles in a movie, especially in a mainstream movie. I said, ‘Oh, there are roles for black actresses.’ It was a fabulous book. You’ve all read it, I’m sure, and so it was a fabulous book, but of course I was thinking as an actress and beyond when I was reading the book. I was thinking, ‘Aibileen, Minny, Yule Mae, Constantine. That’s like four all ready. They’re doing good.’ So, yeah. I said, ‘This is going to be good.’
ShockYa: Was it competitive then to actually land the part?
Viola Davis: Oh, yeah. The deprivation. The deprivation is something else, and so every black actress came out of the woodwork, who shall remain nameless.
ShockYa: That scarcity of roles that’s not perfect today, but it was so much worse in the era that the movie takes place. Were you both surprised as you dug into what that time period was like, what people went through and how bad it could be?
Emma Stone: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know if it’s my generation or if it’s just me, but I didn’t know the levels, the depths, the intricacies. I didn’t know on a day to day basis what life was like [then]. I learned a huge amount of it through this story and through even fictional. I learned a huge amount through the story and through researching the time period more, but I really hope for my generation that they will go see this movie because I don’t know that we know as much as we should about our very recent history. I mean, I remember sitting through European history. I remember sitting through –
Viola Davis: I was about to say that.
Emma Stone: …what the Romans went through.
Viola Davis: We’re not educated. It’s swept under the rug. It’s the big white elephant in the room in our culture. It’s probably a part of our hypocrisy, that we’ve had a brutal history of race, a three hundred and forty six year history. So, I mean, I’m well aware of it because I made a point of making myself well aware of it, even at a young age, in my twenties. So, I knew what the day to day life was like, and I think that if anything I hope the book, or I know the book and the movie will bring that to life. I’m going to say what I’m going to say with a grain of salt; you hope that while people are being entertained and are laughing – we as Americans just want to be entertained and part of that is to escape whatever ills are going on in our personal lives and our political lives, but I hope that people aren’t laughing and having such a good time that they miss, even within that laughter and all of that, the larger message, that it doesn’t have an impact on people. We always want to shrink from it. I find in my life that whenever I’ve shrunk from anything it’s always come back to bite me right in the behind or it always keeps that dysfunction going. There’s enough of that. I think we’ve matured enough as a culture to step away from that. So, I hope that people will take that away from the movie.
ShockYa: Do you feel like it opens up the dialogue for things that are still happening today? Maybe it’s easier because it’s set in the past, but that maybe it can open the door to discussions of our society today.
Viola Davis: I hope. I mean, I think that once Obama became president there was a sigh of relief from people, thinking that racism is over. It’s like Hilary Clinton, if she were elected president would sexism be over? I mean, come on. We all know that whatever took three hundred and forty six years of doing is not going to be undone in fifty years. It’s just not. I hope that opens dialogue with people. I think that people in general are, and I know I am – I’ll put myself in there – afraid of honest discourse. We always want to be in agreement with each other because we want to get along. Some serious things are happening in terms of classicism. The class structure in this country is so polarized. Racism. I mean, you really see it coming out with Obama being president, all of those things. You hope that it opens up a dialogue. You just hope, but what can you do. You can’t change people overnight.
ShockYa: Everyone seems like they’re in unique and different places in their careers, all the women who worked on this movie. Was there a lot of advice sharing and perspective gathering from that sort of thing?
Emma Stone: It’s so funny that’s the question.
Viola Davis: I know, because we get that question, but there was none of that. Nobody was telling anybody anything, giving anyone advice.
Emma Stone: Sissy Spacek told me to wear sunscreen.
ShockYa: Are there times where you get or want advice, or is that just our perception of what goes on?
Emma Stone: I guess sometimes, but it’s only when you seek it out, I think, that people are really willing to give advice. Like, I will say that on ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ Julianne Moore, like any time she was in my vicinity I was like, ‘Okay, if you could do this and you could do this, what –’ and the whole time she was like, ‘I don’t want to give you advice. You don’t care. You don’t want to hear from me.’ I think that would be the most obnoxious thing in the world, if people were like, ‘Let me tell you. Let me sit you down.’
Viola Davis: Yeah. ‘Back in 1980 something when I did “Sophie’s Choice”.’
Emma Stone: Does Meryl [Streep] give a lot of advice?
Viola Davis: You know what, she does not give a lot of advice. I would say that in general, but there are times that she sneaks it in. She’ll sneak it in, and you’re like, ‘Okay, you’re telling me what to do right now,’ but I would take her advice. I would take her advice if she gave it to me. But, no. I didn’t give you any advice. I didn’t give it to anybody.
“The Help” opens in theaters nationwide this Wednesday, August 10th.
Emma Stone may only be 22 years old, but she’s already had one of the busiest years of her life, starring in three films (Crazy Stupid Love, Friends With Benefits and The Help) this year and taking on a key role in the anticipated Spider-Man reboot.
The industry vet, best known for her roles in Easy A, Superbad and Zombieland, opened up about working with The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield in the upcoming Marc Webb film, The Amazing Spider-Man. “Andrew is one of the most giving actors I’ve ever worked with,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue.
Stone, who plays Peter Parker’s first love Gwen Stacy in the feature and starred in the little-watched Fox drama Drive, praised her co-star. “If I needed to get to a place of love or sadness in a scene, he’d leave messages on my phone to replay, or slip in lines off-camera for a different reaction than what was scripted. He gave me so much to react to,” she recalled. Rumors have been swirling that Stone and Garfield are a couple.
The actress, who stopped by San Diego’s Comic-Con earlier this summer along with Webb, Garfield and Rhys Ifans to tout their 2012 summer film, remembered her experiences in the cavernous Hall H. “It’s my favorite place; I’m dead serious,” Stone shared. “Don’t you find people who are passionate about something — it doesn’t matter what it is, unless it’s like, murder — kind of amazing?”
Emma Stone said that her passion was “change,” whether that meant that she would ultimately drift from being in front of the camera to behind it as a producer or whatnot, that is something that she seems to be open to. “I still really like acting, but I feel like if a day came …,” she began.
he had her humble beginnings here in the Valley, but actress Emma Stone, who still has family here in Phoenix, is everywhere these days.
Not only is she starring in much-anticipated “The Help,” which opens Friday, she’s also in “Crazy Stupid Love,” which is in theaters now, and “Friends With Benefits,” also in theaters now.
As if three movies weren’t enough, Stone is on the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair, as well.
She’s already got drama and comedy covered. She can also add action to her resume with the recently wrapped “The Amazing Spider-Man.” In that one, a franchise reboot, she plays Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first love before he started dating Mary-Jane Watson.
“I love stories that I can relate to and that feel human, that feel like stories I want to be a part of and I want to tell,” Stone said. “It’s so hard for me to put them under an umbrella. … I don’t think any movie is solely a drama or solely a comedy. Any movies that are that have been made, I don’t usually enjoy.”
“Crazy Stupid Love” and “Friends With Benefits” are both playing now.
“The Help” opens Friday.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is due out next July.
The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s surprise 2009 bestseller The Help faces a couple of potential pitfalls: the racial politics of a white woman telling the story of black domestics in Mississippi during the civil-rights movement (via a book written by a white woman and a film by a white director, Tate Taylor) and Hollywood’s traditionally poor track record of portraying the South—particularly its accents—realistically. Twenty-two-year-old Emma Stone is carrying much of that responsibility. She stars as “Skeeter” Phelan, a new college grad working on a book about the domestic-attendant class with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the murder of Medgar Evers, the trio’s secret project entails real danger. It’s heavy stuff for Stone, who’s best known for comedies like Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A and the recent Crazy, Stupid, Love, but it’s a key part of a slew of upcoming films poised to make her a big star. Stone shows she has the chops for that next step in The Help, buoyed by a strong supporting cast that includes Spencer, Davis, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Sissy Spacek. Before the film opened, The A.V. Club talked to Stone about doing right by the book’s many fans (including her mom), dealing with the film’s politics, and why she freaks out before starting any movie.
The A.V. Club: There are a lot of potential pitfalls with a movie like this, with the racial politics, portrayal of Southern life, etc. What do you think was the key to avoiding them?
Emma Stone: I think, probably, the reason why everyone wanted to be involved was, it felt like Kathryn had already written a story that didn’t fall into all those pitfalls. In terms of the storytelling, it didn’t feel like we needed to be careful to make this story not a hokey Southern tale, because she didn’t write a hokey Southern tale. The dialect was incredibly hard for me. It was a really difficult thing.
AVC: People don’t really get that there are types of Southern dialects.
ES: Yeah, by county, there’s like 14 different accents in Mississippi alone. [Laughs.] And now, present day, a Mississippi accent is different than in 1963, the way Skeeter spoke, or the way Allison Janney’s character speaks. So we had a dialect coach, which is like going to visit France and having to translate all your emotions into French, and French isn’t your first language. I had to go through that filter, so it was interesting.
AVC: What kind of stuff did she have you do?
ES: Well, she was kind of amazing. She went and met a ton of people in Jackson of all different age ranges and recorded them and sat down with them and had them tell her their life stories. She was Viola’s dialect coach, she was Allison’s dialect coach, she was mine. There were a bunch of different dialects. But she sent me four or five different people talking about their lives that I would sit and listen to, and we honed in on which one we thought would make the most sense for Skeeter, and kind of pieces from all these different accents.
AVC: Like what kinds of pieces?
ES: Have you talked to Kathryn Stockett? She’s the writer of the book and she would say, [Adopts thick accent.] “Awwn” for “on.” But Tate [Taylor]’s also from Jackson, and he says, [Less thick.] “On.” It’s funny. It’s like a puzzle, putting together your individual accent and what you grew up with or what you heard. It must be insane to be a dialect coach, to balance all that out. [Laughs.]
AVC: How much thought went into the unintentional racial politics of the movie? There’s a certain criticism: “Oh, there’s a white woman saving black people.” The book was by a white woman, the movie’s being directed by a white man. How much was that on your mind?
ES: I don’t see this as a white woman saving these maids at all. I think Skeeter’s original intention, especially in the book, is pretty self-[centered]. She’s not a martyr character at all to me. When she first talks to Miss Stein in the book, she comes up with a bunch of ideas, and Miss Stein basically says, “You’re not gonna get published. No one’s gonna find this interesting.” So Skeeter thinks of what would be the most interesting, and that would be if she could speak to the maids in the middle of the civil-rights movement. It’s kind of from a self-serving place of wanting to be published, which I completely relate to, and it seems very human and realistic to me. She’s not a revolutionary in the Junior League; she’s a girl who wants to be published.
As time goes on, she learns more and more about what’s going on, what’s actually happening in society and the kinds of changes they are making. But I think that’s through Aibileen and Minny being brave enough to be part of it. Skeeter’s an idealistic girl who is saying, [Adopts her character’s accent.] “Wouldn’t it be so exciting if I could interview you?” You know, like, “No! You’re gonna get us killed! You’re insane.” Their bravery is what ultimately makes this story even happen. Skeeter doesn’t have a story to tell until the very end, when she’s finally learned just how these women have affected her. I definitely don’t see her as a savior in the story at all. But it has been interesting talking to Viola and Octavia and everyone. Going into the book, they’re reading from Kathryn Stockett’s perspective, and you open with Aibileen’s dialogue. It’s written in this dialect that I can’t even believe [Laughs.] that a white woman is willing to go there, and Viola said by page two, she was completely wrapped up in it and was no longer on guard the way she was when she first started reading the book.
AVC: It’s not like Gone With The Wind.
ES: No, and I think Skeeter even says that when she calls up Miss Stein. “No one asked Mammy how she feels in Gone With The Wind.” Mammy wasn’t really much of a fleshed-out character. She was just kind of there to take care of Miss Scarlett.
AVC: You mentioned in the book that Skeeter’s trying these different ideas to Miss Stein. Was there anything else in the book that didn’t make it into the movie that you wish had?
ES: There were elements of getting to know Stuart’s family. His father in the book is a senator, and she goes over for this dinner, which is a really funny, heartbreaking scene in the book because the father is a drunk. It becomes a really interesting whole level to Skeeter and Stuart that understandably, for time and the fact that we only have two hours instead of 444 pages, that wasn’t in there. But I would’ve liked that. There was also a really interesting scene with a naked man in Celia’s backyard in the book, which is really bizarre, and you see Celia turn into a total badass, and Minny defends her. It was a really strange and interesting scene.
AVC: Did you guys shoot much more than what is in the movie?
ES: Not much more, but there are definitely some things.
AVC: Like what?
ES: Tate has explained it all to me, so I totally understand why it’s not in the movie, but there was one where Hilly kicks me out of this Junior League—it’s a real standoff—after Skeeter puts the toilets on her lawn. But I think it’s pretty much insinuated. Then there was a scene with the maids, and one of them basically sits down with me and says, “You know we hate you, right?” Which was really beautiful and interesting, and again, very realistic. All these women are like, “We don’t trust you. We don’t trust what you’re doing. Why are you here? What are you gaining from this?” Aibileen basically escorts her out, but everyone’s silently agreeing with what she said to me. I thought that was a kind of an incredible scene, and the actress was incredible, so I’m pretty bummed that that scene didn’t make it.
AVC: Did you feel especially nervous about working on this film? The other roles you’ve done haven’t matched the thematic scale.
ES: Yeah. Well, without fail, about a week before shooting anything, I’m always like, “Oh my God, I’m completely unprepared. I haven’t done enough research. I haven’t got anything right.” It’d be like taking a final or something. “Fuck, it’s so much work to get done!” [Laughs.] So it’s like the night before the final. That happens every time I’m about to start a project, as I’m sure it does to most people when they have to start a new job or something you care about a lot, or you want to do right. But the thing about Tate is that he’s insane.
AVC: You’ve talked about how big of a fan of the book your mom is. Does this feel like your first really big, “legitimate” movie in that sense?
ES: Well, the thing that’s also interesting about this is, it’s the first time I’ve ever done a movie based on a book, an adaptation. It’s so funny, because you usually get a script and you tell people what the story’s about, and they have no idea what’s going on. Whereas this, you come into it, and it seems like everyone you talk to has [Laughs.] a million opinions on the cast and the way the story should be told. Viola keeps saying this movie should be called The Big Responsibility instead of The Help, because there were so many groups of people that you wanna do right by. You want to do right by Southerners and the African-American community and the readers of the book and the people that grew up with domestics and the people who worked as domestics. There’s a million different groups that you’re trying to please and satisfy that you’re worried about not loving what comes across onscreen. You kind of have to simplify. But yes, definitely. Coming from my mom… [Sighs, then laughs.]
AVC: But you also have to know that you can’t please everybody.
ES: No. Of course, and that’s something you have to come to terms with in life, growing up, as well. With your work, you have to realize that at the end of the day, you can only do the best you can do, and you have to just live up to your own goals, if possible.
AVC: This is a good time for you, because it seems like you’re on the precipice of big things: a lot of films this summer, a blockbuster next year. To have a film where you’re having to please all these people at this juncture in your career, it seems like there would be a lot of pressure.
ES: Well, this whole world doesn’t really feel like reality. It never has. As much as I try to be present, it just doesn’t really feel like reality. It feels like a fleeting thing. I’ll remember this time and look back on it fondly, but I don’t expect it to last forever. There’s a million other incredibly wonderful girls that are much more talented than me that are out there all the time. So I’m just trying to appreciate it for what it is. But I don’t want it to take on that feeling of pressure, because I don’t know where that’s gonna get me. That’ll drive me crazy. And what’s the pressure? What is the pressure, exactly?
AVC: To succeed?
ES: But success to me is my friends and family are healthy and happy and I feel good about myself at the end of the night and I can sleep at night. I mean, being able to work on projects that I love and care about has been the greatest gift ever, and that’s been a pretty recent thing in my life. But success for me at some point will probably be having a family. [Laughs.] I don’t know how I define it.
AVC: You’ve said you want to emulate Diane Keaton, and Tate Taylor said he was looking for a “Joan Cusack at 20” type for this role, but it also seems like Sissy Spacek would be a role model for you.
ES: Yes! Absolutely. You could reach the scene, and you could never have any idea that she’s Sissy Spacek. She’s like, a mom, so down-to-earth, so relatable and human and not in her head or in her shit at all! Yeah, she’s a total role model. Because I find more and more, as time goes on, these people I meet, they are starting to become these people I look up to more and more. Like Julianne Moore, also, on Crazy Stupid Love: kids, husband, priorities straight. Or Woody Harrelson’s like that. Those are the people I really admire, and that’s success to me: being able to balance that life and not buy into it. And do the work that you want to do and makes you happy, because you’re lucky enough to do it. But if I never got a role again, I’ve got this incredible life.
AVC: And they’ve been able to work—
ES: Steadily, because they followed their hearts and because they made decisions creatively and did what was important to them. That’s the ultimate goal, is never falling into that… thing.