Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Emma Stone's red-letter day

Becoming the next Julia Roberts isn't on Emma Stone's to-do list. Hollywood needs a fresh, new face to charm audiences into theaters, however, and it appears that the 21-year-old Stone is the chosen one.

Her teen comedy Easy A, which is scheduled to open next Friday, could confirm the choice. A takeoff on Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic The Scarlet Letter, the film

places Stone front and center in virtually every scene as her character, Olive, transforms from a smart, virtually ignored nerd into the most talked-about student at her high school. It's all because of a lie about losing her virginity, a lie she continues to feed because it has improved her social standing.

“Sometimes people perpetuate a lie because they want to be something they're not,” Stone says in her distinctive husky voice. “I don't think I could do it the way Olive does. She's a bold girl, not a delicate little thing wounded by all these rumors. I'd be much too anxious. “But I like the way Olive approached things. It felt honest to me.”

Honesty is the quality director Will Gluck was looking for when he auditioned practically every young actress in Hollywood for the role.

“I knew Emma's work from Superbad [2007] and The House Bunny [2008],” Gluck says in a separate interview. “Getting the right Olive was the most important thing,

because the movie is all about her.”

Gluck surrounded Stone with an experienced cast. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson play Olive's parents.

Thomas Haden Church portrays her English teacher, Lisa Kudrow her guidance counselor, and Malcolm McDowell her high school principal. Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl is a potential love interest, with Amanda Bynes as a young evangelical who disapproves of Olive's supposed promiscuity.

“In order to play a 17-year-old going through this, you've got to deal with every emotion at once and play it all on your face at the same time,” Gluck says. “There aren't many people who can do that.”

Stone went after the role of Olive, she says, in order to protect her.

“I loved Olive so much, and I understood how she thought,” the actress says, lounging in a chair in a Beverly Hills hotel room. “I wanted to do her justice. You could dislike her if she were done wrong. I didn't want to take her to a bitchy place. She's a good girl.”

She couldn't help responding to the issues raised in the film, Stone says.

“It's about judging a book by its cover without knowing the full story, as true as it may seem,” she says. “It happens to be set in high school, told through a high school girl's eyes. It's less about The Scarlet Letter and more about how, when you're young, whatever you read, listen to or watch, you find a way to apply it to your life.”

When Olive hints to her best friend (Aly Michalka) that she might have had sex over the weekend, instead of what she really did — she spent Saturday night home alone — word gets around fast.

“In the film we deal with the speed of technology and how quickly things can be communicated, or miscommunicated,” Stone says “Someone sends a text message, and all of a sudden people are looking at Olive differently and it's been 30 seconds.”

Although Easy A deals with life in today's high school, it also tips its hat to the classic 1980s films of John Hughes.

“Our goal was to try not to speak down to teenagers, which is what John Hughes did best,” Stone says. “He was so empathetic. He told the story through their eyes and could clearly remember what it was like.”

When Stone was 14 she put together a Powerpoint presentation on why she should move to Hollywood and presented it to her parents.

They were more supportive than she had expected, and at 15 she came to Los Angeles with her mother for pilot season.

She soon won the role of Laurie Partridge on The New Partridge Family (2005), but the show didn't continue beyond the pilot. She made guest appearances on such series as Medium (2005), Malcolm in the Middle (2006) and Lucky Louie (2007) before landing a regular role on Drive (2007).

Since making her feature-film debut in Superbad as the dream girl of Jonah Hill's character, Stone hasn't stopped working.

She appeared with Rainn Wilson in The Rocker (2008), with Matthew McConaughey in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) and with Abigail Breslin

and Woody Harrelson in Zombieland (2009).

Nor is her pace easing: She already has completed another comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, with Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Julianne Moore.

She voices a character in the upcoming animated film The Croods, set in prehistoric times, and she has a small role in Gluck's next film, Friends with Benefits.

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