The last weeks have taught Hollywood to appreciate the girl next door. Whether it's Jennifer Lawrence tripping in her duvet Dior dress at the Oscars, or Mila Kunis's beer-buddy bonding with a Radio 1 novice interviewer – watched six million times on YouTube – audiences admire the accessible.
Despite her coltish beauty, Emma Stone, 24, has always seemed to be the ultimate superstar BFF. Within seconds of me meeting the highly-prized star of easy-going comedies like Crazy Stupid Love, Zombieland and Easy A, as well as Oscar-nominated drama, The Help, in Berlin, she is exclaiming over the wonder of Topshop and food chain Wagamama. “Lead me to the yaki soba!” she drawls in her husky gravel of a voice, although you wonder how many noodles have really gone into her long-limbed, clothes-horse frame.
Cat-like, with big eyes and a wide mouth, Stone couldn't be more different from her latest role; providing the voice for the heroine of Dreamworks' latest animation, The Croods. Conveniently overlooking the Flintstones, they're billed as the world's first modern prehistoric family. Stone's character, Eep, must battle her overbearing, overprotective father – played by Nic Cage – in order to seek the very contemporary notion of a fulfilling life.
Unlike the sleek Stone, who today is sporting platinum blonde locks, Eep is a squat, ginger-headed cavegirl whom the actress describes as: “A complete dream. She is so feisty, and she forges her own path. Also, though it's not my natural colour, I am a great supporter of redheads as you may know. I would probably be red right now myself if it weren't for having to go off and film Spider-Man again.”
The part of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first love in franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, confirmed Stone's arrival into the big league. It also provided her with a real-life love interest, Spidey himself, 29-year-old British actor Andrew Garfield, with whom she is now shooting The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Stone has made it clear that she has a private life, declaring: “The only thing you have control over in this business is over what you say. People can say or do all the stuff they want, but if it hasn't come out of your own mouth, you have a semblance of control over what is sacred to you. And I am definitely one of those people who can shut others out.” When asked in the past who her ideal man is, she neatly side-stepped it by answering: “My younger brother Spencer. He's the kind of person I'd like to be, because he doesn't have an 'on' button all the time.”
Born Emily Stone into a fairly affluent family in Phoenix, Arizona – her parents owned a golf course – she was acting from an early age at the Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. There was none of the central tension of The Croods – Eep's desire to free herself from her father's wishes.
“No, my parents were cool when I was a teenager,” Stone says. “They wanted to discuss everything, they weren't too strict. There was none of that, 'you guys are jerks, you don't understand me', in my relationship with them. I've always got on really well with them. I don't think I had many teenage traumas actually.”
That self-possession enabled Stone at the age of 15 to give her parents a PowerPoint presentation on why they needed to move to Hollywood for her career. It worked; her mother moved to Los Angeles and home-schooled Stone for a couple of years. Television work followed and in 2007, at the age of 19, she landed her first movie role in Judd Apatow's big break, Superbad.
Now, she says, she herself is ready to produce: “I have yet to do anything. I am incredibly excited at the idea of it. I don't think people realise that I am such a film buff, but I love the intricacy of making a movie. I just find it so interesting. And the more female producers we have out there, then the better.”
What kinds of films will she make? She says she doesn't know, but so far Stone has made her name in comedy, taking up Jennifer Aniston's mantle as a lead actress with innate comic timing who is also bankable. Saturday Night Live, the TV showcase for names like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Stone says, is one of her all-time favourite shows. “Because it gave women an outlet to be funny. The comediennes I most admire are the ones on there who aren't afraid to look ridiculous. And for me, in my career, I want to be brave in my choices. You have to not try and stay somewhere safe all the time.”
The Disney-like message of a film like The Croods, Stone adds, is one she takes to heart. “I think we all need to hear that we should be ourselves, that we have to forge our own paths, and be really daring in life. It's funny but I never related to Disney princesses growing up. The kind of heroines I really like from them were The Little Mermaid and Alice. I loved Alice, she lived on her own terms and in her own imagination. I can really relate to the idea of making your own journey in life, your own way in the world.”
'The Croods' is released in the UK on 21 March
This article appears in tomorrow's print edition of Radar magazine