Q&A: Emma Stone isn't going to tell you what happens at the end of 'Birdman'
Ladies and gentlemen, Emma Stone has come out of the "Amazing Spider-Man" fire and survived.
After almost three years of pretty much filming the Sony franchise flicks back to back, she's finally getting to stretch her wings again. The latest reminder of her incredible talent is her performance as Sam, Michael Keaton's big screen daughter in Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman." The drama, centered on a former Hollywood superstar (Riggan Thompson) attempting to revive his career on Broadway, is one of the most acclaimed films of the year. Stone brings an unexpected depth to Sam and she's generated serious Best Supporting Actress buzz for her work.
The second reminder is her upcoming stint as Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of "Cabaret." Stone was originally supposed to star in the new production last spring, but had to take a mental break for a few months after being in a 24/7 "Spider-Man" world. She bowed out and none other than Michelle Williams substituted for her at the last minute. While other actresses would be afraid to replace someone else in a current show, Stone is karmically making this right by stepping in after Williams' run ends this week.
Stone took some time on Sunday to talk to HitFix about "Birdman" and, specifically, that final scene she'll be asked about for years.
HitFix: I was moderating a Q&A with your "Birdman" producer John Lesher this weekend and he mentioned something I was unaware of, that you were shooting this movie and "Spider-Man 2" at the same time.
Emma Stone: Well, since "Spider-Man" was a six-month shoot I had like a month of downtime in the middle of the shoot so "Birdman" was in that month.
He actually sounded like he was afraid there were days they were going to steal you away and it was going to affect the production.
This is less exciting, but I feel like I had the full month off guaranteed, but maybe I didn't. Honestly, my mind is like the mind of 116-year-old person that has bad memory. I do not remember what has happened in my life as a whole. [Laughs.] So I don't remember how it went back then. I do remember it was during "Spider-Man 2."
Do you remember how different this was compared to some of the other things you've done in the past?
Oh, yes. That I remember. Just not the scheduling stuff. It was completely different than any other shoot and what I learned on it has been applicable to everything I've shot since. And not just shot. Right now I'm doing theater and the feeling of ["Birdman"] has been, definitely, ever present while I'm working on the play. I think the fact we had that sort of extensive rehearsal period and the fact that, along with the script they wrote, Alejandro himself is just an incredibly passionate, no bullshit, truth detector who just doesn't let you rest on your laurels at all and pushes and pushes until he finds the most truthful version of everything. All of that, I think, has sort of propelled me forward to want to have similar experiences. Nothing will ever be like "Birdman" again. It definitely changed the way I look at everything.
Zach Galifianakis has joked during interviews about his fear of screwing up one of those long single takes while you were filming. Did you have those concerns? Or did the rehearsal just make it more comfortable?
I was definitely concerned in a big way. We had a lot of rehearsal so we knew what the basic choreography was and what the blocking was going to be. And where the scene started emotionally and where it needed to end up, because there was no chance to cut away, so that made it feel like a play. But the actual shooting of it in the actual theater? This is permanent. "This take is going to forever. No, no it's not. Now, this take is going to be forever. No, no it's not. Now this take is going to be forever." So there was this sort of cemented everlasting quality to it that's constantly scary.
The scene that was scariest for me was the one where Michael and I work well on the stage and Edward has this amazing, I'm sure you remember it, unbelievable scene with Michael and I had to come in at the end of the scene. And I went too fast around the corner and the whole thing was ruined and I hadn't even been in the scene. So, that feeling wasn't part of the rehearsal process. We didn't have the permanent aspect quite yet.
Were there any moments that weren't supposed to happen, but Alejandro used that take anyway because it seemed more natural?
I think that Alejandro -- I didn't realize it at the time, but a take was more likely to get used if there was something that happened that somebody overcame midway. If there was some laugh or forgetting what you're saying for one second and re-remembering or a mispronunciation. It seems like there was a lot of those little moments peppered in through the movie and I think because it had to be so technically perfect that he must have wanted to see these imperfections all along the way because they're human. And, also, all of them are flawed characters. I think everyone has a moment where they trip up in some way.