She easily got our attention in films like Superbad, The House Bunny, and Zombieland, but it was her Golden Globe-nominated performance in Easy A — in which her character feigns sex with a gay pal to save him from bullying — that elevated Emma Stone to the A-list. This summer, after breaking hearts in Friends with Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love., the 22-year-old takes on another brassy firecracker in The Help, an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel about the civil rights movement. Here, the unsinkable Stone breaks down her soft spot for tough girls and tomboys.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: When did you become aware of your gay following?
Emma Stone: When The House Bunny came out, and it was incredibly exciting. That support is profoundly important and moving to me, because you guys are the best. I grew up with a ton of gay friends and witnessed their struggles. One of the most wonderful things about doing Easy A was that we got to tackle issues that many gay teenagers face.
Did you anticipate the extent to which Easy A would resonate with the gay audience?
Our writer, Bert V. Royal, is gay, and these were issues that he had actually experienced growing up, so we knew that would resonate. But when the movie came out last summer, media coverage of gay teen suicides was everywhere. Because the movie came out right in the eye of that storm, the timing ended up being more relevant and poignant than we anticipated.
Who’s the most important gay person in your life?
I did a lot of theater growing up, and I was lucky to be raised in a family that was very accepting, so someone being gay was never odd or off-putting to me. I have a lot of wonderful gay friends, but one of the most formative men in my life is Max, who’s been my best friend since I was 11 years old. He’s the funniest human being on the planet, and he single-handedly taught me how to do improv. He also taught me what friendship is and what it is to truly know someone. Now we both live in New York, so we’ve been able to stay close for our whole lives.
Your character in The Help, “Skeeter,” is a young journalist who exposes the injustices suffered by black housemaids in 1960s Mississippi. Do you also strive to use your creative power to speak out on socio-political issues?
I’m the least eloquent person on the planet, so I don’t know that I’d be the right person to speak out on anything. But that’s what’s so wonderful about good movies and writers: I can be a part of a project that says what I wish I could say. My ultimate goal is to continue doing movies with some sort of message that can make a change, like Easy A or The Help. Because that’s what good movies do for me: They teach me and bring injustices to my attention.
The civil rights message in The Help is certainly one to which the gay community can relate.
Absolutely. I didn’t live through the ’60s, obviously, so one of the ways I was able to really understand that struggle was by looking at what’s happening in America now with the gay community in terms of the lack of equality and what we’re fighting for.
The Help aside, you break up with Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits, and you’re unimpressed by Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Now that’s good acting.
[Laughs] Thank you. Yeah, it’s been a tough year.
In the Crazy, Stupid, Love. trailer, your character admires Ryan Gosling’s shirtless torso and says, “It’s like you’re photoshopped!” Since you got closer to all that than most of us ever will, what else can you share?
Well, I got to touch it too, so I can confirm that he isn’t photoshopped at all. He put in all the hard work, and it will not disappoint you.
Instead of boy-crazy girly girls, you often play these strong, independent women with an edgy tomboy quality, which has certainly endeared you to lesbian fans.
Really? Oh, I’m so flattered. The tomboy quality is probably coincidental just due to the fact that my voice hits male octaves most of the time. I don’t really think about it — I just respond to what I read — but I must be subconsciously drawn to women who, even if they don’t necessarily have their shit together, are secure within themselves and don’t need a man to fix them.
Are you a tomboy or a girly girl in real life?
It depends on the day. I’m a solid party mix of both.
A lesbian role seems like a logical next step for you.
Right? Send me over a good script. That sounds amazing.
Which gay star would you play in a biopic?
Can I play a man? Anthony Perkins would be interesting, because it was kind of a secret thing.
You also seem guarded when it comes to your personal life. But as you become more and more famous, people naturally want to know more about you and whom you’re dating. How do you navigate that?
I’ve tried to figure out how to be honest and totally myself while not giving away those things that are most sacred to me. I’m afraid that if I ever expose those parts of my life, it will just open up a floodgate of more speculation. So I don’t ever want to talk about relationships or family in interviews. That would be like meeting a stranger for the first time and telling them all that stuff.
But we’re besties now, right?
Yeah, totally, so our next conversation is going to be crazy.
When you guested on Chelsea Lately, Chelsea Handler asked if you had a girlfriend when you evaded her question about having a boyfriend. You responded sarcastically, but I got excited for a second.
No, I don’t have a girlfriend. But who knows? You love who you love.
Do you have a girl crush?
Christina Hendricks. It’s a no-brainer. Everything about her does it for me. That’s my kind of woman.
Like her, you’re a natural blonde who’s found fame as a redhead. Were you surprised by the brouhaha on the blogosphere when you went back to blonde to play Gwen Stacy in next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man?
It was so funny. To me, hair is hair — you dye it, cut it, whatever — so all that attention was wild.
It gets confusing for a guy who might want to dress as you for Halloween.
Damn it. OK, always stick with red — that’s my advice to a drag Emma Stone. I may be a blonde at roots, but I’m a redhead at heart.
When The Amazing Spider-Man comes out, you’ll become the fantasy of fanboys everywhere. Are you prepared for that kind of attention?
If that happens, it’ll be the biggest compliment ever. Just because the scale is so large, doing Spider-Man is more daunting than I realized in the beginning. I’ve tried not to think about it too much — especially while we were shooting — but when you’re sitting on these giant blue screens with all these rigs, it’s the opposite of an environment like Superbad. It’s odd, but it’s very exciting. Like with The Help but more insane, Spider-Man has this built-in fan base, where people already know the story and are going in with their own opinions and expectations, so you’re either going to live up to them or let people down. But it’s really all about passion, and I love passionate people.
You made your film debut in Superbad as the love interest of Jonah Hill’s Seth, but some viewers questioned the homoerotic nature of the relationship between Seth and Michael Cera’s Evan. If we revisited those characters today, do you think either of them would be openly gay?
[Laughs] I don’t know. In some friendships there’s so much love between two people that there’s just a fine line. Hey, I have girlfriends that I’m incredibly close to, and there’s definitely a fine line there.
The Advocate, August 2011 issue; extended online version.