'I try not to get too bogged down': Emma Stone on the day after winning an Oscar

Emma Stone talks about her latest role in The Favourite, a historical drama set in the 18th century courts of Queen Anne. It's the first role she took after winning her 2017 best actress Oscar for La La Land.
Actor Emma Stone attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Originally published on December 3, 2018

Emma Stone joins q's Tom Power to talk about her latest role in The Favourite, a historical drama set in the 18th century courts of Queen Anne. It's the first film Stone shot after winning Best Actress for La La Land at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Since winning her Oscar, Stone has solidified her career and found more freedom to take on roles that stretch her as an actor. The Academy Award-level accomplishment brings its own expectations and pressures, but she says she tries "not to get too bogged down" by the fear of making mistakes — instead capitalizing on it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Emma Stone in the film The Favourite. (Yorgos Lanthimos/20th Century Fox)

Stone keeps herself grounded in the undulations of daily life and she doesn't wax philosophical about her own abilities or accolades. It's the on-set friendships that are the "greatest gift," she says. In terms of her acting, all she hopes to do is stay on the cutting edge and continue to develop her abilities.

It's not that interesting dramatically to watch someone who's just nice or super charming. It's pleasant, but it's not necessarily fascinating, and it doesn't give me that much to chew on.- Emma Stone

"I'm interested in developing more with people that I admire," she says. "The crazy thing about the place I'm in right now is just the ability to make choices as an actor, which is a pretty enormous privilege, so I'm trying to, you know, be careful with that."

Certain roles no longer interest Stone. Now, she seeks parts that allow her to expand on the complexity of human nature and make us consider the multi-faceted experiences that we all face.

"It's not that interesting dramatically to watch someone who's just nice or super charming. It's pleasant, but it's not necessarily fascinating, and it doesn't give me that much to chew on," she says. "These characters do. … There's a lot of interesting questions that arise about their true nature, and I think that's what makes this story so interesting."

In The Favourite, Stone takes on the ever-shifting character of Abigail, a servant to Queen Anne who fights to win her affections.

"The best part of playing someone like Abigail is that there is so much complexity to her. She's fighting for her survival, she's fighting for security and stability in her life and at the same time she makes some questionable decisions in that process and because she is so complex, as we all are, it makes her very interesting to play… It's very uninteresting to watch a villain that's just a villain. Once you see the well-roundedness of everyone's life – once you see their history or you understand a bit about who they are – it's hard not to have a bit of sympathy for them."

Though The Favourite is set in the 1700s and features what some movie aficionados may see as tired tropes, it adopts a fresh and unsettling view of life in what The Guardian calls a "Punk-Restoration romp."

Even though the film tells an old story, after the first read through of the script, Stone was hooked on the idea.

"There is a certain expectation when you hear that a movie is set at the beginning of the 18th century, or that it has to do with the monarchy," she says. "It's probably going to be this thing that we've seen countless times before. But it was just the way [The Favourite] took that whole notion and turned it on its ear which drew a lot of us into wanting to be part of it."

The Favourite opens in Toronto on Friday, December 7 and hits more theatres across Canada later this month.

Click the listen link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Stone. 

— Produced by ​Chris Trowbridge. Words by Conor Sweetman.

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