- Emma Stone talked to Business Insider about how much she loved the script for her new movie, “The Favourite.”
- The Oscar winner said it was the first time in four years she wasn’t constantly “writing, fixing, begging, pleading,” for script changes, admitting she’s “usually very involved.”
- “The Favourite” director Yorgos Lanthimos also told us why he had Stone audition for the role, an unorthodox move for the level of stardom Stone is at.
Emma Stone really means it when she says that for her latest movie, “The Favourite” (in theatres November 23), she was excited to only have to act. The Oscar winner explained that for years, she’s not only had to act in many of her starring roles, but also had to be a heavy collaborator to make them better.
Stone opened up about this when she and “The Favourite” director Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster,” “Killing of a Scared Deer”) sat down with Business Insider in New York City earlier this month.
The movie – which follows two cousins who go to extreme lengths to top the other and court favour with Queen Anne in the early 18th century – is something Lanthimos had been developing alongside screenwriter Tony McNamara for seven years. The script made it to Stone in 2015 (she plays one of the cousins opposite Rachel Weisz), and she could immediately tell from the first read that the work had been put in.
“Just to read it and say, ‘OK, it’s great as it is,’ is pretty infrequent,” Stone told Business Insider. “So it’s incredible when you find it.”
Stone even went a step further and gave this surprising revelation to compliment the work done by Lanthimos and McNamara:
“I would say ‘The Favourite’ is the first film that I’ve done in four years that I wasn’t constantly calling, writing, fixing, begging, pleading, changing,” she said. “I’m usually very involved.”
“The Favourite” was shot in early 2017, and previous to that Stone had starred in the Cameron Crowe flop “Aloha” (2015), the acclaimed “Battles of the Sexes” (2017), and “La La Land” (2016), which she won a best actress Oscar for.
Stone said it felt great working on “The Favourite” and not having to worry about changing a single line of dialogue or piece of story structure.
“It feels amazing when the script is right and the director is right and you are like, ‘Now I can go and have fun and trust the process,'” she said. But for Lanthimos to get to that comfort level with Stone, he admitted he needed some convincing first.
Back in 2015, before Stone had even begun shooting “La La Land,” Lanthimos had Stone audition for the role of the cousin, Abigail. It was less to gauge her acting skills, the director said, and more to see if the two were a good fit to work together and to make sure Stone could deliver a convincing English accent.
Though an audition was an unorthodox ask for someone at Stone’s level of stardom, she said she didn’t feel insulted having to come in to read because it gave her the same opportunity to make sure she could work with Lanthimos. And at the end of the day, Lanthimos got the confirmation he needed.
“We had a few sessions with a dialect coach and we went through a few scenes and I worked with her the way I work with all the actors during rehearsals,” Lanthimos said. “Then after hearing the dialect coach and English people I know saying, ‘That is fine, you have nothing to worry about, just go ahead,’ we were good. I just didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable while we were making the movie, or make a fool of herself.”
Stone is far from that in “The Favourite.” Playing the scheming Abigail, she delivers a layered performance that’s filled with manipulation and dark comedy as her character cooks up ways to make Queen Anne forget about Sarah (Weisz). It’s led to Stone once more gaining Oscar buzz for her performance.
But Stone being just an actress didn’t last. Soon after wrapping on “The Favourite,” she was back to being an involved collaborator, this time alongside director Cary Fukunaga on the Netflix series she starred opposite Jonah Hill, “Maniac.” She admitted that her style comes off “probably annoying” sometimes, but it’s the only way she sees the material going from good to great.
“It’s exciting to work on things that aren’t fully there yet and you get to help shape and be a part of it in that way,” she said. “But ‘The Favourite,’ it was completely unique.”