She’s gone from Hollywood unknown to Oscar nominee—but can Emma Stone sing and dance her way through an old-fashioned movie musical? Get ready for La La Land, the biggest leap of Stone’s high-flying career.
Before Emma Stone became, you know, Emma Stone, she was Emily Stone, a teenage would-be actress from Scottsdale, Arizona, who moved to Hollywood with her mom and lived in a two-bedroom apartment right near the Farmers’ Market. She kept a John Lennon poster on her wall, burned incense (“I was sixteen,” she protests), drove a red Volkswagen Beetle to auditions, and, in an oft-recited but irresistible biographical detail, worked behind the counter at Three Dog Bakery—mm-hmm, a bakery selling dog treats.
Stone was one of thousands of young fresh faces who arrive every year in Los Angeles carrying the hopeful but brutally difficult dream of Making It in Show Business, and you can find all that collected ambition inspiring or melancholic or a little bit of both. I should point out that none of this is ancient history to Stone, who turns 28 in November and can still tick off the Three Dog Bakery’s top sellers.
“Pup Tarts,” she says. “Pop Tarts, but for dogs. And Pupcakes. Then there was a kind of dog Oreo made with carob and honey. A mom would come in and buy them for her kid because she thought dog Oreos were healthier.”
The reason Hollywood is Hollywood is that it’s a town where someone can go from selling dog Oreos to seeing his or her face on a billboard over Sunset Boulevard. This is pretty much what happened to Emma Stone. It’s the sort of timeless dream that lifts every showbiz striver and serves as the engine for a romantic and rather brilliant musical movie that Stone stars in this December. Called La La Land and directed by the Whiplash wunderkind, Damien Chazelle, the film tells the story of an aspiring actress named Mia (Stone) and a would-be jazz-club owner named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they try to navigate their respective careers in a sunny but cruel town. Big, sweeping, and refreshingly uncynical, La La Land is the sort of movie that studios used to make all the time but don’t anymore. Stone and Gosling sing. They dance. They fly—literally, in a breathtaking scene among the stars inside the Griffith Observatory—and fall in love. In an age of thumping and frantically edited franchise flicks, La La Land is both retro (there are nods to the MGM-musical heyday and the French New Wave director Jacques Demy) and utterly radical. When it opened the Venice Film Festival in late August, the audience burst into applause barely ten minutes in (Stone would go on to win the festival’s Best Actress award). Similar praise and accolades followed in Telluride and Toronto, as the early Oscar buzz for Stone and the entire production intensified and Tom Hanks said after catching a screening, “If the audience doesn’t go and embrace something as wonderful as this, then we are all doomed.”
Full interview: vogue.com