Amazing Gwen Stacy:
Emma Stone Interview
by Lynn Barker
When you make a list of hot, talented and pretty young actresses, Emma Stone (of Superbad, Easy A, The Help etc.) always ranks really high. In the new “Spider-Man” movie, Emma goes back to her natural blonde to play the teen first love of high-schooler Peter Parker who is destined to be superhero Spidey.
While making the action-packed yet romantic film, “Gwen” and “Peter” (Emma and cute Andrew Garfield) actually fell in love. Awwwww. The chemistry on screen is real. Emma had a lot to say about her part, her look in the movie, her love of science and learning and the fact that she doesn’t consider herself a role model but really wants to help kids and teens.
Picture pretty Emma wearing really high, cool clear plastic and red leather heels by Christian Loubotin (the ones with the red soles), off-white jeans with trendy holes, a black satin top and long, dangle gold earrings.
AGW: What first drew you to this famous role?
Emma: I’d always wanted to play Mary Jane (played in the earlier films by Kirstin Dunst). I thought she was so great. They called me again and said “We’d like you to audition but the part is Gwen Stacy”. I was like “Uh, I don’t know who Gwen Stacy is” because I hadn’t read the comic books growing up.
So, I looked into the story of Gwen and I just fell in love with it. I met Andrew at the audition and got to act with him for the first time. He is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with and I instantly knew how much I could learn from him. That, really, really drew and challenged me.
AGW: Your director Marc Webb said earlier that he cast the chemistry between you and Andrew. How do you explain the chemistry between you two?
Emma: (big smile) Can one explain chemistry? With any actor or any person in life I’ve had chemistry with, it’s hard to pin down what chemistry is. That’s why they do chemistry tests for movies. Even if you’re not playing a love interest, even if you are playing best friends, sometimes it just clicks or it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how good the actors might be. So, it really is indefinable. It’s something else entirely, some soul thing. I don’t know what it is.
AGW: When you read the script and learned that Gwen is not just a damsel in distress but does a lot on her own to save the day, were you even more interested?
Emma: I was cast before I read the script but yeah, I read the sides (selected scenes with her character in them). Gwen felt that way (strong) in the sides. There was a heartbreaking scene. There was an exchange with Ben (Peter’s uncle) that was really sweet so I instantly knew it was something very different. I really, really liked Gwen from those sides.
AGW: Spider-Man is idolized by a lot of boys especially but, from the female point of view, what do you think it is about Spidey that makes him such a beloved superhero?
Emma: He’s the only teenaged superhero which is major because a lot of times when you start reading comic books you are a kid or a teen so he’s the most identifiable. Instantly, you can relate to him. He’s bullied. Everyone has experienced something along those lines and the fact that he is bitten by a spider and he’s then able to fight back, is symbolism for kids; that they have that much power within them to speak out, to stand up for themselves and to stay unique and stay true to who they are as Peter does.
AGW: Isn’t that how they meet? She’s impressed when Peter tries to help a bullied kid?
Emma: Yeah. He finds those heroic elements within him, with or without his powers. He takes the fall for a kid who is being humiliated in front of a group of people. He displayed those heroic qualities long before he becomes an actual superhero. So, I think that is why it is so resonant and has been for fifty years and will continue to be even down to Barak Obama having him as his inspiration in pop culture.
AGW: Gwen Stacy is pretty iconic herself from the comics. You researched her from her look to the feel of the character and that is evident on screen. How did you achieve the look?
Emma: Well, costumes are by Kym Barrett who is fantastic. I’m a lot less voluptuous than Gwen (she laughs) so it didn’t really go (there) but the signature headband and the thigh-highs and the coats are there. In hair and make-up we really tried to attain that as well but still keep her realistic and earthbound. I’m not a supermodel or an unattainable-looking person so that element of Gwen was unlike the comic books in some ways because she is such a beauty queen. I’m a lot more “next door”.
AGW: She’s very “adult” and responsible in some ways.
Emma: She’s the oldest daughter of a police chief so there’s that responsibility thing that kicks in when she thinks that her father could die every day. I think it’s important that she took on that energy of being in charge of her family. She could be there in case something should happen to him. Then, unwittingly, she’s drawn to a man who is in the same position.
AGW: Your character Gwen is studying to be a scientist or physicist. How familiar are you in that field or does that interest you at all?
Emma: My aunt and uncle were scientists and they’re incredibly intelligent, fantastic minds and I’d always been fascinated by what they did. They took us to these labs (for the movie) and it was the first time in my life I had been really angry about not going to college because I was fascinated and I knew what they were talking about! I was like “What do I need to do to intern?” “You need to be a college graduate”. “But I know what you’re talking about! I get it. I can learn!” I was so upset. It’s like joining the Peace Corps, you have to be a college graduate.
I didn’t graduate college but it doesn’t mean that I’m not smart. I got so interested in biology. That was one of the most exciting parts of this process was learning about medicine and regeneration and stem cells. It just expanded my mind in so many ways. So, now I’m going to take a biology class. I can do it at home. (Through her teeth) Doesn’t mean I’m not smart (laughter). I loved it. It was amazing.
AGW: We heard that you just ad-libbed a lot of dialogue. A lot of people are raving about your improv skills. What were some of your favorite moments like that?
Emma: They let me go off the cuff in the hallway scene to keep Denis (who plays her dad) out of my room (laughter). When you give me an inch, it’s not good. I thought, “What is the one thing that would keep a dad out of his teenage daughter’s room”? “Cramps”. Anything related to that or hormones. I knew in an instant from my own life experience “It’s just that I…” “Okay, okay, I’ll let you go”. Dads don’t wanna talk about that.
AGW: In 2007 you changed your hair to red and now it’s blonde. You’re a natural blonde so why a redhead?
Emma: When I was first auditioning in L.A. (at age 15) I dyed my hair brown and a week later I got my first role. A couple of years went by and I was cast in Superbad and there was a camera test for that and (director) Judd Apatow walked in and said “Make it red”. My mom is a redhead naturally so I guess I had the skin tone of a redhead. For five years I tried to get it back to blonde but, for every role, people would be like “We want it red or strawberry blonde, just something red”. Finally, back to blonde.
AGW: One of iconic lines of Spider Man is “With great power comes great responsibility”. You’ve just won the Trailblazer award (part of the MTV Movie Awards). Do you feel like you have a responsibility to kids?
Emma: I don’t, in any way, shape or form, think that I’m any type of a role model but when you’re put into a public place, you have to figure out what that purpose is in your life or what you can possibly do with fame. With getting the Revlon contract, I thought why would I be approached for a beauty campaign because I’d always been “the funny girl”. Not to put myself down, that was the way my brain worked.
I realized sometimes real beauty, what’s inside gets to be celebrated, what’s inside is what counts. You can put make-up on because it makes you feel good and not for somebody else. I do feel, not a responsibility but a privilege to be able to speak to younger girls and make them feel like it’s okay to be themselves.
AGW: Why do you think Peter is attracted to Gwen other than her being a beautiful blonde? Does he respect her courage and other qualities?
Emma: I think elements of Gwen and Gwen’s family life are elements that Peter didn’t necessarily have, a sense of stability. His Aunt Mae and Uncle Ben are a very stable environment for him but he has abandonment issues. His parents left when he was five. He doesn’t feel comfortable expressing the pain to them and I think he sees someone steady in Gwen and someone who can understand what it’s like to lose a father on a daily basis when she doesn’t know if he’s going to come home every day (her dad is the Chief of Police). She feels that sense of abandonment as well
AGW: Peter and Gwen’s love story is so real in the movie. You really got the “young people in love” thing right. Did you just go with memories of your first love?
Emma: I think the approach was I wanted again to experience that feeling of first love before you know what it’s like to get your heart completely shattered; that life or death love where you’re like “I know what love is!”. In this circumstance it actually is life or death. I wanted to feel that again. I wanted to unlearn and go from the very beginning of “Oh my God, there is an attraction to another human being in a way I’ve never felt before. What is this?”. It was a matter of becoming seventeen again and letting yourself be seventeen in that moment. You should try it. It’s really cool.
AGW: Spidey isn’t the only one swinging through Manhattan. You go on a “ride” with him. Did they rig you up for that big swing with him or was that CGI?
Emma: Oh yeah we swung. We were swingin’ (laughter). That was awesome. I really loved that. Thankfully, I’m not afraid of heights. That would have been horrific, awful actually because you’re so out of control. I loved it other than the bruising. Harnesses bruise. Yikes!
AGW: Hey, do you think you could convince Andrew to host “Saturday Night Live”?
Emma: Yeah, I think so. I can’t convince Ryan Gosling but I’m working on Andrew.
Uncredited photos copyright and courtesy Columbia Pictures, 2012
This film is rated PG-13
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