Emma Stone on working with Damien Chazelle and playing Billie Jean King

Emma Stone on working with Damien Chazelle and playing Billie Jean King

Emma Stone is easily one of my favorite actresses working today. I have been a big fan ever since her earlier work in silly comedies like The Rocker and The House Bunny. Stone is always charming and has this unique quality where she shines even if the material is less than noteworthy. Stone is unlike so many other younger actresses working today because she stays out of the spotlight while continuing to pick great roles that are always unique and different.

In La La Land, Emma Stone plays Mia, an inspiring actress in Los Angeles that falls in love with a jazz pianist named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Stone’s performance in this film is nothing short of award-worthy. The performance is simple yet complex at the same time. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Emma Stone to talk about her role in La La Land while also asking her views on career vs. love. Stone was charming and delightful to talk to. At the end of our interview, she even posed for a picture, which was simply adorable. 

I love this movie so much, and you just continue to impress me as an actress. Seriously. I think you just get better and better and better.

That’s so nice. Thank you.

The ending of this movie is so bittersweet, and I have to ask because it’s something that ran through my mind as I was driving here this morning. Do you think there’s a balance between the love of your career versus love in real life? Can you achieve true happiness in life without having one or the other?

Oh, God.

Sorry. I asked Damien, this as well. 

I certainly think the importance of balance is huge, but I think that is for everybody. I think that balance is a big issue for anyone that I’ve talked to, or talks about it in any career. Between work and your kids and your spouse or whatever it is, whatever situation you have in your life. I think balancing all of that seems to be a huge situation. It is interesting in the creative life because you have to be so in love with your work. It truly is an in love feeling with your job. That kind of balance of love for your work and love in your life is an interesting thing. I don’t know. That’s person to person. I don’t know. I think it would be very hard, for me, to find meaning in my life without an element of both.

Great answer. Thank you

You’ve worked with so many different and talented directors on many different types of movies. What was it like working with Damien as opposed to the other directors? Was there any takeaway or one point during this film that you felt really intimidated by?

I loved working with Damien. I thought he was so open and clear in his vision and collaborative. Those are usually things that are difficult to coexist, especially when this is such an ambitious idea. You would think that someone that struggled for so long to get the movie made would be a little more holding it closer to his chest and saying, no, don’t change these things about the character. He was so open in the process of creating these people with Ryan and I. The movie essentially stayed the same as what he had envisioned. We just got to go deeper with him and explore who these people were going to be. I really loved working with him. People are going to be working with him and talking about him for the next 50 years, so you’ll be hearing lots about Damien forever, I think. Deservedly so.

The most intimidating part. Really, for me, it was balancing the tone, and that was what Damien was sort of walking me through a lot of the time. It was that idea that we’re shooting this film like occasionally… That it’s a cinemascope picture. It’s a Cinemascope motion picture, but it’s also very grounded in reality and that we were going to move from these very subtle small modern scenes into these dance numbers. Balancing that as an actor was tricky to me at the beginning. I didn’t really understand how theatrical it would be or how big I should go or how much I should bring it in. How to calibrate all of that. That was the biggest challenge of the film and ultimately the most amazing thing to see. That he did. He pieced it all together in a way that is cohesive and makes sense and can go from this world to that world. That was the most intimidating part.

Do you think you’ll ever direct?

We’ll see. It is the hardest job on set. It is crazy to be the captain of that ship.

Don’t worry, I won’t turn that question into its own article like that article that went viral and everyone said you have a restraining order against Ryan Gosling.

If you watch how I said that, it’s pretty hilarious.

It was funny. I read the headline and then the article. That’s the funny thing with journalism nowadays. Everyone is looking for some sort of headline, just like, “oh she has a restraining order. They’ll never work again.”

Click bait. Content. Click bait. Be the content beast.

So what’s next? What do you have coming up?

I’m doing a film in the spring that I’m really looking forward to in London that’s right now is called, The Favorite, but I’m not sure if the title will change. It is the new film from Yorgos Lanthimos who made Dogtooth and The Lobster. I’m going to do that with him in the spring. I can’t wait. I also just did Battle of the Sexes also.

I know someone who saw a test screening of that, and they said amazing. They think it’s gonna be your next Oscar-worthy film. That’s what they told me.

Thanks for telling me that.

No problem, just want you to be prepared.

It was such an incredible experience, to play Billie Jean King, especially now, talking about this. Even this past week has been so nuts. It was a life changing thing. That was the first real person I’ve ever played and to have it be here was just like whoa.

She’s so cool to work with.

She’s amazing. She’s also so supportive and so positive. She’s a coach now, you know? So she deals with kids and amping them up and so to have her by me and to play a living person who’s that iconic is pretty daunting and she was just so like, you can never disappoint me because I know how hard you’re trying. I was like, Thanks, Billie. She was amazing.

Thank you so much for talking with me. I can’t wait to see you at all the award ceremonies in the next few months. 

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