More than a decade into her career, Emma Stone has adopted a “no risk, no reward” attitude when it comes to selecting roles. “You have to be growing and that really only comes from taking risks” says the star, who reflected on her flourishing big-screen life when she sat down with Hello! Canada and at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
And with Oscar buzz mounting for her portrayal of struggling actress Mia in the modern-day musical La La Land, it’s safe to say that her latest risk is paying off.
Reminiscent of studio spectaculars from Hollywood’s Golden Era, the song-and-dance film sees Emma, 28, waltz her way into the heart of a stubborn jazz musician (played by Canada's own Ryan Gosling). The duo tap into their palpable chemistry (established on previous collaborations Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad) to transport audiences into a dreamlike world where anything seems possible.
Here, the star opens up about her Canadian co-star, saying yes to La La Land and cringe-worthy auditions.
Emma, you and Ryan seem to be such a natural fit onscreen. What makes you so compatible? We’ve been asked to improvise in most of the things that we’ve done, and we were asked to do that in our first audition together. It sort of brings you together in a way. You get to know each other quickly when you have to go off what each of us is throwing out there. Now it’s just nice because we’ve known each other for a long time. It makes it easier when you work with anyone multiple times.
What was your reaction when director Damien Chazelle presented the role to you? I was singing and dancing each night in Cabaret in New York when I met Damien. He was very patient with me throughout that process because I was very sick. And I was like [in a deep voice], “A musical? What do you mean a musical?” [ Laughs] I asked him so many questions like, “What’s the tone? What’s it going to look like?” But it was exciting from the very beginning, just the idea of an original musical that takes place in modern day but feels like an old MGM CinemaScope film.
Could you relate to Mia’s struggle with bad auditions? Yeah. When you feel dismissed so early on or people really don’t pay attention to you. And when you go in and they’re like “OK, we only need you to read half the scene – thanks for coming in.” Those four words “thanks for coming in” mean it’s never going to happen. It’s what you dread hearing at the end of an audition.
Do you still have to audition for roles? I auditioned this year for the Yorgos Lanthimos movie I’m going to do! The character is British and he wanted to hear it. So I worked with a dialect coach for a while and did, like, an hour audition with him!