Here’s what it’s like to be part of Emma Stone’s inner circle.
When her mother passed her five-year mark of being in remission for triple-negative breast cancer, Stone and her brother Spencer and their mom celebrated not with a fancy dinner or a swanky vacation, but by getting matching tattoos.
It’s why Stone, 25, has been volunteering at Gilda’s Club, which doles out group love to cancer patients, for three years. And it’s also why she’s a bit uncomfortable doing the promotional version of a drive-through at the organisation’s downtown headquarters.
“It makes me so happy but I want to be there more in person there with them. I’m a little bummed I’m not spending more time with them today. It always feels a little bit like, ‘Gilda’s Club, bye!” she says.
And unlike so many other actors, who ooze faux candour and neediness like bad deodorant, you get the sense that she means it. It’s perhaps why Stone epitomises unforced sincerity and breezy confidence on the big screen as well, as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. So how to reconcile that persona with the bundle of nerves that Stone says she really is on the inside?
“You can easily forget that she’s only 25 because she has this emotional maturity and sophistication. It’s interesting to talk to her about anything. It makes her entertaining and fun to be around,” says Spider-Man director Marc Webb.
“I remember when we were halfway through shooting and we had a halfway party. I’d had a very weird dream involving Hugh Jackman. She listened to me and gave me eye-opening dream analysis. I say this because there are a lot of layers to her and she’s textured as an actress and a person. She understands what people around her are feeling. She’s very sensitive to other people’s insecurities and embarrassments and worries and concerns.”
It’s why Stone finesses any questions about her real-life relationship with Andrew Garfield, who plays Parker/ Spider-Man, with enviable ease. There’s no tension, no weirdness, no elephant in the room. Just total awareness of how to diffuse any queries.
“It’s been easy because all I have to say is that I don’t talk about my private life. It’s kind of easy,” she says, pausing for effect. “Actually, I slap people in the face.”
No, but really, how does she stay so upbeat while answering repetitive questions for the second month in a row? “I don’t think I’m that good-natured about it. When I’m really jet-lagged, I have such a state of psychosis that I have the tragedy mask. This tour has been a lot easier. I knew what to expect,” she says.
But that awareness of what’s around her works both ways. Stone says she’s been profoundly affected by nasty comments made about her appearance online as she’s traversed the globe promoting the Peter Parker franchise. She’s looked, and been appalled by what she’s read when photos of her premiere looks are posted.
“I firmly believe that nothing really affects you or can really bother you if you don’t already feel that way about yourself. I’ve seen a lot of comments that say, ‘Eat a sandwich’ or ‘She looks sick.’ I’ve been looking at myself in the mirror being mean to myself. I’m not sick. I eat sandwiches,” she says.
“There is in no way is it my intention to be a bad example. That has been kind of bothering me lately. I’ve shamed myself for it. We shame each other online.
“We’re always too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. They’re just confirming this feeling I have about myself. I’m trying to figure my body out. It bothers me because I care so much about young girls. We’re shaming each other and we’re shaming ourselves, and it sucks.”
For the record, food is a huge part of Stone’s life, and the pivotal point of how her days are structured. Girl needs to eat – and it’s why an appearance at a school in Queens is scheduled right before a mandatory lunch stop at a diner.
But rather than endlessly defend herself, Stone has made a decision, she says, to keep the mean girls out of her life. “When I make a comment about someone or I choose to gossip about someone and speculate about their body or their life or their face, it’s usually a reflection of something I’m feeling myself. That has become ingrained in me. I’m trying to eliminate gossip from my own life,” she says.
It’s one reason that when possible, she tries to surround herself with strong ladies, like Divergent’s Shailene Woodley. “She feels good about herself. I like being around women like that,” says Stone.
She’s also charmingly self-deprecating, talking about how she broke off her nails the other night after slamming her hand into the door of her hotel room while rushing to open it. And she wonders whether her new ‘do, one with bangs and slightly feathered ends, might be a dubious move.
“Do I look like Susan Dey right now? Do I look like the mum on The Brady Bunch?” she wonders.
Not in the slightest. As always, Stone manages to look, and act, precisely like herself, regardless of her varying hair hues. Much has changed since she made her film debut as a spunky redhead in 2007′s Superbad and went on to star in 2011′s Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Help. And she’s in Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, opening in July and co-starring her cinematic soul mate Colin Firth.
“I call him paprika, because I talk about being vanilla. I’m bourbon vanilla. He’s paprika. He’s one of the only people I’ve met who sits at home as much as I do. That’s what we did: sit around,” she says, giggling with pleasure at the memory and breaking into a flawless British accent to mimic Firth.
She’s eager to do theatre. And she’s excited about spending her summer months doing nothing but settling in.
“What I would like to do is try lots of things. When I first started out, there was no real plan. I still don’t have a plan. All of this has been really wild, doing things like Spider-Man. I’m still finding my footing and figuring out what it really is that makes me the happiest,” she says.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out now.