Emma Stone had no trouble relating to Mia Dolan, the character she plays in La La Land: a struggling young actress who moves to Hollywood from the Southwest, goes up for a hundred auditions, pumped with hope and dreams and fierce ambition, only to be met by rejection, indifference.
“It was really kind of a strange exercise,” Stone said with a laugh last week, recalling her own early days in Los Angeles (after moving there from Phoenix) and the way the starry-eyed Mia in Damien Chazelle’s altogether exhilarating new musical – yes, musical – goes through the same grueling, soul-crushing process.
“But it also reminds you that if you’re lucky, you’re getting frequent auditions as an actor,” Stone added. “Because it’s the periods when you’re not going in for auditions that are even worse – those long swaths of time when people aren’t even calling you. You’re just sitting in your apartment wondering what the hell you’re doing with your life.”
Stone, of course, does not have that problem now. Nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the messed-up daughter of a messed-up movie star (Michael Keaton) in 2014’s Birdman, Stone also played the intrepid writer in the 2011 box office hit The Help, and was Gwen Stacy, Andrew Garfield’s love interest, in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its 2014 sequel. And if she isn’t nominated for a best actress Oscar for her literally soaring turn in La La Land, well, then, we may as well all go climb up a tree and never come down.