Emma Stone Doesn’t Do the “Make One for You & One for Them” Thing

The Big Picture

  • Poor Things marks one of Emma Stone’s most ambitious roles yet.
  • The Yorgos Lanthimos film stars Stone as Bella Baxter, a woman who’s resurrected and given the brain of a child.
  • During an interview with Collider’s Perri Nemiroff, Stone discusses the silly and freeing rehearsal process, how the character would evolve on the spot on set, and more.


You want an example of an actor who’s taking the reins of her career with great authority, racking up audacious roles, working with some of the strongest voices in the industry and supporting them as a producer as well? Look no further than Emma Stone.

Stone swings big frequently, but Poor Things’ Bella Baxter might be one of her most ambitious roles yet. Based on the Alasdair Gray novel, the Yorgos Lanthimos films follows Stone’s Bella as she’s resurrected by Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), given the brain of a child, and exposed to all of life’s wonders — and prejudices. Stone is challenged to create a character and take her on a super-speed coming-of-age journey, one during which Bella explores the world with limitless curiosity and enthusiasm as she’s free of societal expectations and pressures.

With Poor Things now playing in theaters, I got the opportunity to have a brief chat with Stone during which she revisited the film’s very silly and freeing rehearsal process, discussed why she found much of Bella on the day on set, and also spoke about a particular acting pressure that she refuses to abide by. Hear it all straight from Stone in the video at the top of this article, or you can read the interview in transcript form below.

Poor Things Film Poster

Poor Things

The incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter.

Release Date
December 8, 2023

Rating
R

Main Genre
Horror

PERRI NEMIROFF: When you’re preparing to play Bella, what is the very first piece of her that you find, the thing that confirms to you you’re on the right track, but then also, what’s the last thing you found, the thing that convinced you, “Yes, I understand this person and her journey as a whole?”

EMMA STONE: Oh wow, that’s a good question and really difficult. Because she is a flawed and experimenting person, obviously, as she says, the actual performance of it felt that way, too. It felt very experimental as we went along. We came up with stages of Bella’s development, whether it was her physicality or the way that she’s speaking, but really, a lot of it was on the day. Through it those things were shifting and developing. There’s so many different parts of Bella throughout the whole story because of that kind of expansion and journey that she’s going on that it’s hard to nail down what it was.

I understand that! That’s part of the reason why I asked the question. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around every element that makes up her entire journey. Leaning into what you were just saying, so much of her journey is her reacting to and learning from how other people treat her, so can you name a time when a scene partner gave you just what you needed and maybe helped you find something in her that you wouldn’t have been able to without them?

STONE: Oh my god, all the actors in this film are incredible. We had this rehearsal process for three weeks before we started filming. It’s very silly and freeing and crazy, our rehearsals on Yorgos’ movies, so by the end of that process you feel really close to each other and you have no embarrassment around each other. You’re just playing so much that it leads to an environment where, in any scene that we were doing together, whether I was with Willem or with Ramy or with Mark, so many of these incredible actors, it felt very supportive and kind of cozy to be with them. And that’s my favorite part about being an actor is other actors. I love getting to have those moments with other actors. Who you’re working with is everything. So yeah, this was a lucky break on this one with these people.


Emma Stone Picks Projects for Herself, No One Else

Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) being reawakened by a machine in Poor Things
Image via Searchlight Pictures

I’m gonna end with a personal career question inspired by Bella’s journey because one thing I absolutely loved is how alive she is because she sees nothing wrong in things that society deems wrong. As an actor, what is something about the approach to acting that you thought was wrong because of what others had told you, but then you realized it wasn’t wrong and because of that you were able to be more free with your craft?

STONE: There’s only so much choice you can make as an actor, especially at different points in your career, but when you get to make choices of what you want to work on and who you want to work with and all of that, I don’t ever think from the outside in. I don’t think about what people would expect of me or something. In the past, I think I remember that concept of like, “Make one for you and one for them.” That kind of thing. And I don’t believe that at all. I actually think the more you feel like it is a story that you really want to tell or be a part of, or something you want to make, I actually think that’s much more resonant to people that are watching it rather than like, “I’m doing this for you guys.” That’s a weird concept to me.

Keep making bold choices for you and supporting other bold films as a producer. Problemista, I’ll just shout that one out.

STONE: Yes!

Another top-notch film right there.

STONE: I’m so glad!

Poor Things is now playing in select theaters in the U.S. Click below for showtimes.

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