Emma Stone: Spider-Man's new girl

This week Emma Stone was named as the arachnid superhero’s co-star. But first she stars in a comedy inspired by Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Gill Pringle meets her.

Basking in the glory of being Hollywood's latest overnight "It" girl after her comedy Easy A became a recent surprise US box-office hit, previously little-known actress Emma Stone is today weighing up her considerable options.

Already set to feature in five major movies over the next 18 months, she was this week named as the next Gwen Stacy in a reboot of Spider-Man, which already has Andrew Garfield attached as Peter Parker, in the superhero franchise's next three films.

Snapped up by comedy star-maker Judd Apatow three years ago, Stone's sparkling debut in his Superbad enabled her to step up through the sparse ranks of female comedy actors, today starring in her own movie, Easy A, which boasts a supporting cast of better-known comedy veterans, including Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow and Thomas Haden Church.

Playing a clean-cut teenager whose white lie about losing her virginity hits the rumour mill, and transforms her into the most popular/reviled girl in high school – depending on which way you look at it – you'd imagine that Stone 21, has all the answers.

"I'm actually the last person to ask about school. I kinda ducked out at 12, before all that stuff might have happened. I left school after sixth grade and was basically home-schooled after that," says the Arizona-born actress who, when she was just 15 years old, convinced her mother to take her to Hollywood and temporarily dump her father and younger brother.

"I know what you're thinking – that I'm some kind of Hollywood brat – but it wasn't remotely like what you might imagine," teases Stone, who has since fine-tuned her comedic skills with roles in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The House Bunny and Zombieland.

The daughter of a contractor father and home-maker mum, she's amazed today that she actually pulled off her dream. "I can't imagine how I'd react if my own child came to me with the same notion that I had. My parents are both very funny but they're also relatively soft-spoken, normal human beings while I'm just a lunatic. I don't know where this loud, ballsy, hammy ridiculousness came from. I'm just glad I followed my goals and my parents did too. It's not like we even had a plan when I dragged my mom to Los Angeles," reflects Stone, whose adult-sounding, deep, husky voice guaranteed she was never going to be your average cute, Disney, teen actress.

After months of languishing with her mother at their rented Los Angeles apartment, rarely being offered auditions, she pulled an "Amy Adams", dyeing her blonde hair a brownish-red. "When I first moved to LA, I had this agent who thought, because I was blonde, that I only wanted to play cheerleaders. So she'd send me out for all these parts where they thought: 'What a weird 15-year-old. Its not going to work out!' I don't know if anyone necessarily underestimated me as a blonde – I think I just had a crappy agent. So one day, in a fit of trying to do something different, I just dyed my hair dark brown and got my first role a week later, after which I thought: 'People are closed-minded, man! Like a different hair colour changes everything!' Then, for Superbad, my hair was brown at the test, but Judd said to dye it red, and I've mostly had red hair ever since."

As Easy A's overlooked straight-A high-school student, Stone's character suddenly finds herself at the centre of attention when a white lie about losing her virginity gets out; it parallels Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

Just as Clueless, Amy Heckerling's high-school parody of Jane Austen's Emma, made a star of Alicia Silverstone 15 years ago, then Easy A, with its literary references to The Scarlet Letter, has done the same for Stone. But the similarities don't stop there for, shortly after Clueless's unparalleled success, Silverstone went on to snag the role of Batgirl in the super-hero blockbuster Batman & Robin, so Stone is Spider-Man's next Mary Jane.

While Stone's Easy A character utilises social networking to advance her popularity and financial standing, in real life, she recently cancelled her own Facebook page. "I used to do Facebook but you get a little too wrapped up in that stuff. Its more distracting than anything so I don't any more. I left it behind. I detoxed! But don't blame it on the movie, it was just more of a personal choice."

Ask if there's any particular rumour she'd like to spread, and she laughs. "There's nothing exciting I can think of. I always want to be honest about who I am because, as many rumours that may happen, I think its better if you know that you can ask the person if its true and they're not going to be like: 'I don't want to discuss that. My life is private!' I think it changes things when you're honest, and that's also Olive's thing in the movie, that once she tells the honest truth, good or bad, people are like: 'You're a human being. I can relate to you. That's cool. I've been there too.' So I guess I want to spread truth, instead of rumours."

Of course, she may just as easily have quit Facebook in order to protect her new-found powerful Hollywood friends, given that she presently has five movies in the works, including an as-yet untitled collection of comedy shorts featuring Kate Winslet and Gerard Butler; Crazy, Stupid, Love with Julianne Moore and Steve Carell, plus her first drama, The Help, based on the best-seller of the same name, and set in the Deep South of the 1960s, with Sissy Spacek and Viola Davis.

"Two days ago I broke up with Justin Timberlake on screen for Friends with Benefits. Not bad for a day's work!" laughs the actress who counts country singer Taylor Swift among her closest friends. "We met at a Young Hollywood awards a couple of years ago, and we've stayed in touch ever since and got closer. Its not hard to spend time hanging out with her. I mean she has security and stuff so you can't really walk close to her when you're out so usually we just stay in together."

Suggest that comedy is a notoriously tricky genre for women – particularly pretty women – to pull off, and Stone agrees: "There really aren't many parts. It's an unfortunate thing and something I hope will change, but never has, and who knows if it will? I think Saturday Night Live, starting in the 1970s, really gave women an outlet to be funny. A lot of those women went on to have film careers, from Kristen Wiig now to Tina Fey and Gilda Radner.

"Nowadays it seems like the real goldmine is in creating your own characters and teaming with a good writer, but its not easy. It's a scary thing for a woman to put yourself out there and look like an idiot. Look at Lucille Ball. She always said, 'I'm not funny when I'm not as brave'. The comediennes I admire are the bravest people who aren't afraid to look ridiculous. Maybe that's a harder notion for women – the fear of not looking their best."

With her mother returned to the family home in Scottsdale, Stone has since left Los Angeles for a new life in New York. Having previously dated musician-actor Teddy Geiger, her co-star in The Rocker, she's keeping quiet about her latest relationship.

If her dance-card is full right now, she doesn't plan on keeping up the dizzying work pace. "I realise I have a lot of amazing opportunities, but I don't know how you can play a human being going through real human experiences without being able to walk down the street. If you can't live a real life, how do you play a real person? It always confuses me when actors work back-to-back-to-back with no break. If you live your life on a film set, how the hell can you relate to real people? You don't know what its like to not have people fussing over you all day, and that's not life – that's silly movies. I will always want to take breaks and I wouldn't be OK with losing that."

'Easy A' opens on 22 October

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before