Emma Stone talks The Amazing Spider-Man
Emma Stone talks The Amazing Spider-Man
By Xilla Valentine
July 2, 2012
Coming out this week (July 3) is ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ a reboot of the Marvel franchise starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Directed by Marc Webb, the film also stars Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
For Stone, having starred in comedies such as Superbad, The House Bunny, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, along with the critical favorite Easy A, and last year’s Oscar nominated film, The Help, this is her first venture in the comic book genre.
At a recent press conference, the Arizona native spoke about her role in the rebooted franchise and working with her current boyfriend Garfield?
What first drew you to this role, this famous role?
Emma Stone: At first I met? Really early on maybe two weeks after the reboot was announced for Mary Jane and I’d always wanted to play Mary Jane. I thought that Mary Jane was so great. A couple of months went by and they called me and said, “We would like for you to audition but the part is Gwen Stacy”, and I was like “Uh, I don’t know who Gwen Stacy is?” I haven’t read the comic books growing up. So I looked into Gwen’s story and I just fell in love with Gwen’s story because it is so incredibly epic and tragic, and just incredible in the way it effects peter going forward with Mary Jane, who is another character that I love, obviously. It was enormous, so I took the opportunity to audition, and I met Andrew at the audition and I got to act with him for the first time, and 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 drew me to that challenge. Rising to meet him everyday was something really exciting, and it was a huge growing and learning experience for me so it was a combination of things.
When you read the script and realized that she was not just the damsel in distress and that she is a big part in saving the day in this were you more interested in doing that part when you realized you were going to be a very strong woman?
ES: Well I was cast before I read the script.
Were you happy when you did read that?
ES: Yeah! I had the sides and Alvin Sargent had written the sides, who is a genius! He’s not too shabby of a writer. She had felt that way in the sides. There was a heartbreaking scene, there was an exchange with them that was really sweet, and there was the dinner table scene that was all kind of in there when I read the sides. I instantly knew it was something very different. Obviously he is such a brilliant writer, I didn’t even know he wrote it, and I was like “God these are well written.” I really liked her from those sides.
Whenever someone talks about Spider-man you always hear the words “iconic” and “much beloved” and it seems like he is the superhero that most people, and obviously most boys, idolize, so from the female perspective what do you think it is about Spider-man that makes him such a beloved superhero?
ES: Well, he is the only teenage superhero, which is major, because a lot of the times when people start reading comic books you are a kid or a teenager. So he is the most identifiable instantly. You can relate to him. Not to mention he’s bullied which is huge for a girl or a boy. I think that everyone has experienced something along those lines and the fact that a spider bites him and this kind of wish fulfillment has come true and he is able to fight back to the bullies that he wasn’t able to before is symbolism for kids. That they have so much power within them to speak out, to stand up for themselves, to stay unique, and to stay true to who they are as Peter does. He finds heroic elements within him, with or without his powers, which, in this movie, I think instigates Gwen and Peter’s first interactions when they stand up for a kid that’s being bullied and he takes the fall for a kid that is being humiliated in front of a group of people. He displays heroic qualities long before he becomes a superhero. I think that is why it is so resident and has been for fifty years and will continue to be. Even having Barack Obama being his biggest inspiration in terms of pop culture.
In terms of Spider-man being iconic, Gwen Stacy is pretty iconic herself. You said you went through and did some research on her and looked into her story, and it is very apparent on screen that everything, down to her iconic thigh highs and the feel of the character seemed to come right off the comic book page. How much of that was your own preparation and how much of that was worked with Web and the others on?
ES: Well, costumes we’re talking about Kym Barrett who is fantastic and we worked together kind of to make sure that Gwen felt like Gwen that also made sense in the real world, because obviously I’m a lot less voluptuous then Gwen, unfortunately. It didn’t really go to those heights. But the signature headband and the thigh highs and the coats, all of that was important to stay present. Down to the make up, the hair and the makeup were incredible and we tried to attain that as well but we were trying to keep her realistic and trying to keep her earthbound. I’m not by any means a supermodel or an unattainable looking person so that element of Gwen was a bit different then the comic books in some ways because she was such a beauty queen in the comic books and I’m a lot more next-door the she might be, so that we worked on. In terms of a character it was kind of a hodgepodge of different versions of Gwen. I don’t think that she is hippy-ish and I don’t think she will ever be birthing Herman Osbourne’s twins, I don’t think that’s going to be happening, but we tried to keep some of that moxy in there and some of the self assuredness, and she’s the daughter of the police chief, she’s the oldest daughter, so there a responsibility thing that kicks in when she thinks that her father could die everyday, and I think its important that she put on that energy of being in charge for her family. She could be there if something should happen to him, and she is drawn to a man who is in the same position. There’s a little Electra complex going on.
Your character Gwen is a scientist/physicist, how familiar are you in that field and does that interest you at all?
ES: I was home schooled and I wasn’t really exposed to things like that. My aunt and Uncle were scientists that worked for Merck and they had a hand in creating the cervical cancer vaccine, Girasol, so they are incredibly intelligent and fantastic and their great minds. I’ve always been fascinated in what they did, and I myself, this might sound strange to you but I had really bad acne a couple of years ago, really bad, and it was during a really stressful time period and I started going online to try and figure out what cause this kind of thing. The cortical production and how things like that occur in your body, and how things like Acutane works. They took us to these labs, and this was the first time in my life that I was very angry that I didn’t go to college because I went to these labs and I was fascinated. I knew what there were talking about and we looked at biophotonics and what happens when cortical fires off in your brain and the same thing that causes acne can cause diabetes, and proving that stress has a link, and we were leaning about regeneration, and we learning about axon models and seeing how they remove their arms, and study their regeneration. We looked at stem cells that they wired to beat like a human heart because they are finding ways to do this. I was fascinated and I was like “What do I need to do to intern?” and you need to be a college graduate, and I was like “but I know what you’re talking about! I get it! I can learn!” and it made me so upset. Its like to join the Peace Corp you have to be a college graduate and I was like “FUCK! This sucks! I can learn I swear!” and so now I’ve went on my tangent of the word “smart” which has been really bothering me for the past year. I don’t like the word “smart” because what does “smart” mean, were you able to learn or did you graduate college? I didn’t graduate college, that doesn’t mean I’m not smart. So I got so interested in Biology that was the most exciting processes was learning about medicine, regeneration, stem cells and all of it, it expanded my mind in so many ways. Now I’m interested in Biology.
And now an option is to do it at home.
ES: Now I can do it at home. Doesn’t mean I’m not smart.
You’re very smart because you are thinking that way.
ES: Thank you.
Marc Webb pulled back the game because you and Andrew were so good, a lot of people were raving about your improv skills so I was wondering what was your favorite improv moments? And also, do you think you can convince Andrew to do Saturday Night Live?
ES: You’re telling me. Yeah I think so. I can’t convince Ryan Gosling but I’m working on Andrew. One of my favorite improv moments is the hallway scene. Which was written, but there were a lot of moments that we got to add to the scene when we are like asking each other out but not. Then there was that awful, it was such a handy bit, where they let me go off the cuff to keep Dennis out of my room. So of course, when you give me an inch, and it was just not good, so I was like “what is the one thing that will keep a dad out of a teenage daughters room?” Anything related to that. Anything related to hormones. I knew from my own experience I would be like “I’m sorry its just I’m like…” and its “okay, I’m sorry, I’ll let you go”.
Back in 2007 you changed your hair to red and a lo of people thought you were a red head for a lot of years and for the movie you’re blonde, which you are a blonde, but whatever made you go to a red head. I know that it’s your prerogative, a lot of ladies change their hair color because they want too, it’s you’re prerogative, but what was the reason and why so many years as a red head?
ES: I’ll tell you. I dyed my hair when I was fifteen when I first went to L.A. and I was going on auditions, and I sounded pretty much the same as I do now, and my personality was a little bit weird for the parts for fifteen year olds at the time. It was during pilot season and I was going to a lot of Disney channel things, but I don’t know if I exactly fit into the mold, so I dyed my hair brown. I don’t know. I was like “Oh I’ll die my hair brown.” And a week later I got my first role so it was kind of cool. A couple years went by and I was cast in Super Bad, and I went to the camera test for the movie and Martha McIssac who played Helen in the movie, oh god her name was Becca, her name was originally Helen but the woman wouldn’t sign it. Nobody print that. Becca had brown hair and Judd just walked in and was like make it red to the hair person so they took me to the hair salon the next day and they dyed my hair red. My mom is a natural red head, so I had the skin tone for a red head. I’m telling you for five years that I was trying to find a reason to dye my hair blonde but for every role people would be like well we want it red, we want it strawberry red, we need a shade of red, just something red. So I stayed red. If you look back through some of the things that I’ve done, The Rocker was right after Super Bad and it was like blonde and then Zombie land was brown, I’m always trying to go back blonde.
But it was Judd though.
ES: Yeah it was Judd. Blame it on Judd. But I love having red hair so hopefully it will happen again someday.
One of the iconic lines in Spider-man was “With great power comes great responsibility” Now that you have a trailblazer award is that something that you feel like you have with your stardom? Do you feel like you have responsibility for the kids?
ES: That is something I can talk about for a long time. I don’t in any way shape or form think that I am any type of a role model or anything like that. But for whatever reason when you are put in a public place you have to figure out what that purpose is in your life like that may have happened or what you can possibly do with something like that. I am not political, and I know that I’m never going to talk about those kinds of things and I know that is never going to be my job as an actor to be championing any kind of cause, except for originality. That’s the one thing that I identify with as my responsibility per say, and I know that’s not my responsibility and all that but there is something that came with the Revlon contract. I thought, “Why in the world would I be approached for a beauty campaign?” because I was always seen as the funny girl. That is not to put myself down but that is always how my brain worked. I thought about Dianne Keaton for L’Oreal and Ellen DeGeneres for Cover girl and sometimes-real beauty gets to be celebrated and what’s inside is what counts. You can still feel beautiful or put make up on but because it makes you feel good and not for anyone else, and that was something that I was like “if I have the opportunity to reach young people or reach young girls in a way that makes them feel like what they are is enough and those elements of their personality that sets them apart and makes them original and if they feel good in any way and if that effects one person that’s a game changer, that’s something that I’m proud to be helpful in any way of looking real or being a real person. But obviously I have a stylist that puts me in clothes like this and I have a hair and make up person that does stuff so there’s all of that going on right now too and I am not eloquent right now, at all, but I do feel a slight responsibility but a privilege to be able to speak to younger girls and make them feel like its okay to be themselves.
Why do you think that Peter was attracted to Gwen other then being a beautiful blonde, did he detect her courage and other qualities that we might not know about?
ES: Yeah, I think that elements of Gwen and Gwen’s family life are something that Peter didn’t necessarily have such as a sense of stability. I know that Aunt May and Uncle Ben is a very stable environment for him but he has abandonment issues. He was left when he was five so he doesn’t feel like he can be totally honest with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and you can see that when Uncle Ben comes in and says, “Sorry we don’t talk about this.” He doesn’t feel comfortable expressing the pain to them and I think he’s sees someone steady in Gwen and someone that can understand what its like to lose a father on a daily basis as you see in the bedroom scene, she doesn’t know if he’d going to come home everyday. She feels that sense of abandonment as well and I think that they are so different but they also relate on the love of learning. I think he’s sees something in Gwen that becomes a confidant. That he can trust.
We’ve seen you play high schooled in love before in Easy A and Super Bad, did this story feel young, different, goofy, sweet, how did you approach this love story and what traits from young people in love inspire you to put into this movie?
ES: In any movie that I’ve done there hasn’t been a love story like this. In Super Bad that’s a totally different thing. That’s like a “oh he’s cute” and Easy A it’s like woodchuck Todd he’s cute. There focused on their story in most of the movies I’ve been apart of. This kind of swept me off my feet because she is truly in love with him. Again I wanted to experience that first feeling of first love before you get your heart completely shattered. That life or death love where you are like “I know what love is!” Except for in this circumstance it actually is life or death. I wanted to feel like that again. I wanted to unlearn. I wanted to go from the very beginning and be like “oh my god there’s an attraction to another human being in a way that I never felt before. What is this?” That uncomfortable “Ugh” I wanted to feel that again. It was just a matter of unlearning and becoming seventeen again and just letting yourself be seventeen in this moment. It’s fun you guys should try it. It’s pretty cool to feel that way again.
How would you describe the difference from working on a film like Easy A where there was no effects what so ever to moving up to a major effects film especially in regards to 3d?
ES: My character wasn’t very involved in the effects. My storyline was much more human. So it actually didn’t feel all that different other then the days that I had to swing which was fun or the days that you were on a blue screen where you’re acting with another person and you could be in a cardboard box just to test your imagination. In terms of shooting in 3D it takes a little bit longer because you are syncing two cameras and the camera is huge and reflective. It’s like acting with a mirror next to you, which is very bizarre. If you ever had a conversation with a mirror right next to you and you keep catching yourself and it’s just awful. You get used to it and it’s a little bit better but it was nice to know even shooting a movie like this your approaching the character in the same way and your trying to tell the truth about whom that person is and what they are feeling. So it was comforting to know that you are representing the person that remains the same. This feels different. The press feels different. This is where it really strikes you that your in Spiderman.
As a fan of the first trilogy and MJ was there any pressure for you on set to make your first kiss with Peter as memorable because that became a very iconic moment in the films?
ES: Obviously there is no comparison there. Of course I thought about it because I just did. I thought about the kiss, and just trusted them to write it so it was just what they wrote and we went with what they wrote.
Do you think it was a nod to Indiana Jones?
ES: I think its kind of cool because Peter reminds me of the mischievous character, but yeah that’s a little tango move.
You said earlier that Andrew was one of the best actors you’ve ever worked with, how do you explain the chemistry between you?
ES: Can one explain chemistry?
Can you try?
ES: It’s hard too because with any actor or with any person in life it is hard to pin down what chemistry is. That’s why they do chemistry tests for movies. Even if your playing love interests or parents or best friends it either clicks or it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter how good the actors may be. It really is indefinable, its exactly what they call it. Its something else entirely, its some soul thing.
I was wondering what you could tell us about the director?
ES: I think that Mark from watching 500 Days of Summer Mark obviously cares about love and humanity and that was incredibly important for this movie. He prioritized the love and the action and that was really important for this movie and I know he had a million voices in his ear and there is a lot of opinions. He would come in on Sundays to work on the scenes with us and break them down and build them all the way back up until the scene that was written on the page we analyzed to death. He was incredibly grateful and kind and I was so grateful that he came from that background.
Did they rig you up for the big swing?
ES: Yeah, we swung we were swinging.
Are you afraid of heights?
ES: Luckily I’m not I’m not afraid of heights, but I loved it other then the bruising. Harnesses bruise.