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Saturday 24 February 2018

The heart of Stone

Will Lawrence talks to the amazing Emma Stone about climbing her way up the Hollywood A-list, living in the moment and working with her superhero boyfriend on the latest Spider-Man movie

Emma Stone would like to try a proper pint of Guinness in Ireland.
Emma Stone would like to try a proper pint of Guinness in Ireland.
Kelly Stone
Kelly Stone in a scene with Andrew Garfield.
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx

Will Lawrence

Actress Emma Stone has so much in common with her Amazing Spider-Man character, Gwen Stacy, that it is almost uncanny. They are both natural blondes, both are extremely ambitious and they both also enjoy an amorous relationship with a web-slinging superhero.

On screen, Stacy is Peter Parker's and therefore Spider-Man's gal; in real life, Stone is dating Andrew Garfield, the man who brings both of these screen characters to life.

Not many women can say that they have a genuine superhero on their arm. How does that make her feel? "I think everyone wants a hero," she counters with a smile.

"Everyone wants someone to pick them up and tell them it's all going to be okay because we're all flailing about the place. There is always that feeling that we want someone to save us from all of this."

So what does she admire most about her superhero, other than the fact that he might save her from the pains of everyday life?

"Andrew is an incredibly passionate person and is so incredibly talented, and that is amazing to work with," Stone coos.

"I learn a lot from him," she continues, "because he is so free and full of understanding of every aspect of his character. You could sit and do improv with him on the Spider-Man characters for hours. He'd know everything."

Garfield, famously, grew up a devoted Spider-Man fan, while Stone has had to learn about the Marvel comic books, and the heroes and villains contained therein, while shooting 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, which is in cinemas this week.

"Gwen has graduated as valedictorian, and she wants to go to Oxford to study molecular medicine," Stone says of Stacy's journey in the new film.

"She is working towards a scholarship and she is trying to make sense of her relationship with Peter, but it's not going great. So she is forging her own path independently of the man in her life."

The same, of course, is true of Stone, who broke through in Hollywood around the same time as her fella.

For Garfield, it was the Facebook movie, The Social Network, which cemented his position with Sony Pictures, the Hollywood studio that distributes the Spider-Man films. For Stone, it was the high school comedy Easy A.

"In terms of opportunities, that was the most major experience I have had thus far," Stone says of the 2010 Sony Pictures release, which was directed by Will Gluck. "It was pivotal. I had no idea it'd do so much for me; I just fell in love with that character.

"I fought so hard to play her and I felt I understood her experience and where she was coming from."

It was a sound move on Stone's part and she was cast as Gwen Stacy in 2010 when Sony announced that the studio would reboot the franchise, recruiting a clutch of fresh young talent, including Garfield, Stone and director Marc Webb, who had proved his filmmaking skills with the critically popular 2009 love story (500) Days of Summer.

"Marc has a completely different sensibility than most superhero movie directors," Stone says of Webb. "He loves love. Perhaps that's me being biased because I am involved in the love story side of the movie, but that aspect is really warm and present in him. He is very allowing of the love story."

The romantic story in the new movie runs with the theory that if you love someone you might need to let them go.

"That's definitely an aspect that is present in the film," concedes Stone. "It also talks about the fact that life is short, and all of that morbid stuff.

"If you know you love somebody, and if that's the person you want to be with, don't waste time up in here," she adds, tapping her temple, "and thereby confusing what is happening in here." She places her hand over her heart.

"It's a good lesson for whoever is seeing this movie at whatever age," she continues, "to know you can't waste time.

"I am guilty of that on days, thinking that there is so much time that I can do this or that later on. But now is the only time and that is a big lesson in love."

Her character is also struggling in the aftermath of events in the first film, which claimed the life of her father, Captain Stacy.

"Gwen has always had an awareness of mortality," says Stone, "because her father was going out to face death every day, but his death has a huge impact. She realises now is the time for whatever it is you want to achieve in life."

Stone's life ambitions are myriad and she has achieved much already. At the age of 15, she relocated from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Los Angeles, California, moving across country with her mother in bid to make it in Tinseltown.

After winning roles in TV shows such as Medium and Malcolm in the Middle, she broke into comedy film-making, debuting in the bawdy hit Superbad before featuring in The Rocker, Zombieland, The House Bunny, Easy A and Crazy Stupid Love.

"I've been able to do a couple of comedies this year, which were a lot of fun," she says.

Stone recently finished working with Woody Allen on Magic in the Moonlight, which stars Colin Firth, and with Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu on the darkly comic Birdman, which features Michael Keaton and The Hangover actor Zach Galifianakis.

"Comedy will always be my first love," Stone says, "and my ambition is always to do more."

Is starting a family also an ambition, I wonder?

"I would like to have a family," she says. "I don't know when and how many. I don't know what's going to happen. But it's something I would really like. It would be lovely."

Before that day comes, she would also like to do some more travelling, including taking a trip to these fair shores.

"I've never been to Ireland but I'd like to go," says Stone.

"I'd like to try a proper pint of Guinness. We get it over here in cans I think, but I've never had it properly. I hope to rectify that one day."

Emma Stone's journey to being an international superstar

Superbad (2007)

She makes her debut in this Seth Rogen-scripted comedy that launches Jonah Hill and Michael Cera on the road to Hollywood stardom.

Paper Man (2009)

This off-kilter comedy gets wretched reviews (website Rotten Tomatoes records an aggregate score of 31pc among critics), though Stone's turn as the put-upon Abby receives what little praise is going.

Easy A (2010)

She becomes a worldwide star courtesy of her fiery, red-headed performance in this high school comedy that is heavily influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter.

The Help (2011)

She shows her dramatic chops in this Civil Rights drama written and directed by Tate Taylor from the 2009 novel of the same name. Stone plays prime protagonist and aspiring writer, Skeeter Phelan.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

She becomes an international superstar after playing Spider-Man's love interest, Gwen Stacy, in director Marc Webb's franchise re-boot. The first film takes over $750m (€540m) at the worldwide box office. The second is in cinemas now ...

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