After kicking off her movie career in Superbad as the high-school hottie throwing the cool party, Emma Stone is rapidly carving a niche for herself as a young actress with good comic chops. Her latest outing is the fright-com Zombieland, in which she plays one of four human survivors (with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin) blowing away zombies in America. Rotten Tomatoes meets up with an actress who, as she explains, was instructed to move to LA by a voice in her head…
Emma Stone: I read the script and told my agent I loved it and then I auditioned with a lot of other very cool actresses who probably would have been way better for the part than me. I auditioned with Jesse — we did some improv together. I knew he was going to be amazing in the movie.
ES: I had never done any action before and I’m not very good at running so that was hard. I kept injuring myself. Other than that, it was just fun — learning how to shoot guns and pretending to be a bad-ass.
ES: I got to shoot a lot of zombies but my favourite thing was to watch Abigail shooting them. She is way more bad-ass than any 12-year-old I’ve ever met. Needless to say, there were nights that it was incredibly scary and you’re being chased by 30 ravenous extras dressed as zombies.
ES: Yeah! On the second day, Abbie and I had to be chased by something like 30 zombies and it was two o’clock in the morning and I was really overtired. I started getting these paranoid thoughts that one of them was really crazy. I was like, How do you know you can trust these people?! So we’re running from these people and shooting at them and in my mind I’m thinking, What if one of them snaps and attacks me? I got myself into a paranoid tizzy about it.
Stone in Zombieland
ES: No, I moved out to LA when I was 15 and I didn’t get my first role until I was almost 18 so I was lucky to have most of my teenage years off camera. Not to say I haven’t had breakout acne explosions since on camera! That’s been nice.
ES: I had a revelation in history class, sixth period. I was 14 and in my freshman year, and that night I made a presentation to my parents to move to Los Angeles. Two months later, my mom came with me. I auditioned for three years and nothing happened and finally I got Superbad.
ES: It was this feeling that overtook me… it was like a voice and it’s happened a couple times throughout my life, and all it said was, “You have to move to LA right now.” And I hated LA — I’d been to LA before, I still can’t stand it. In fact I’m moving to New York I hate it so much.
ES: Well, I was like, “Why?” And it said, “Because if you don’t, you’re going to regret it.” I don’t know why I had to do it right then but I can tell you those three years of rejection completely built me into having the guts to keep going. I was having breakdowns — “What am I doing? I’m 15 years old! I have no friends! I’m not in school — why did I need to do this?” But I kept pushing through it, and I’m so glad I got rejected for so long because things fall into your lap when you least expect it. Superbad was my first movie and I made that in what would have been my senior year of high school. So follow your gut. Your gut will tell exactly what to do when you need to do it.
ES: Yeah. My mom loved Saturday Night Live and Gilda Radner. She would do Gilda Radner impressions and she showed me old Saturday Night Live when I was about seven. The first movie I ever saw was The Jerk. By the time I turned nine, I knew The Jerk and Animal House and Planes, Trains and Automobiles by heart. I watched them on a loop. I think I just connected laughter to love and immediately that was what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be on Saturday Night Live. Gilda Radner was my hero. And Diane Keaton and Ruth Gordon…
ES: Diane Keaton’s. She can do anything. Everyone references Meryl Streep and Meryl’s untouchable — but Diane’s really untouchable too.
Stone with Abigail Breslin on set.
ES: No, but I met Cameron Crowe – he’s one of my favourite directors – and ever since I’ve been too afraid to meet Diane. He was waiting for me at the top of the stairs at a premiere. He said, “Emma?” and put his hand out and goes, “Cameron Crowe.” And I shook his hand and I started crying. I went [voice breaking], “Hi…” I cried in front of Cameron Crowe and it was so embarrassing. So I could never meet Diane! I’d get way too emotional. She would think I was a nutcase.
ES: I don’t know yet. It’s a great feeling. It’s fun to be scared again. God, I hope I get work!
ES: [laughs] Oh God, no! No, I can promise you that will not be happening. It was a fun movie though.
ES: Buy my first bottle of Pinot Grigio. I’ll be legal drinking age — yeah!
Zombieland hits UK cinemas on Friday. It’s out now in the US and arrives in Australia on 3rd December.