Not only is she the most consistently engaging young actor in studio films right now, Stone gives great interview too.
As The Help is out today in UK cinemas, it’s the perfect time to share some of what she told me.
Explosions are fun, but face the facts
Everything in Hollywood seems to be increasingly stereotypical and increasingly watered down. Look at movies from the seventies. One of my favourite movies is Network. That movie would never be made now.
We don’t want to call people out on their crap. You’re sitting in your little room and you’re looking at your TV and that’s what you believe. You want to hear that that’s important to read your websites, and it’s important to watch your TV shows, and that it’s important to stay in your own little world and escape. This is the stuff you don’t want to hear and don’t want to be confronted with.
Explosions are fun, and I’m not saying that’s bad. I love explosions. I love my websites. I love TV.I just think we need to face the fact that we’re afraid to face ourselves a lot of the time.
There’s so much censorship it’s insane. I’ve experienced so much censorship, even in comedy. Even in terms of not being able to curse or to cover something.
I went to see Fast Times at Ridgmont High for the first time two weeks ago. That movie would never be made now. A fifteen year old having sex with a thirty year old? You would never see that in a movie now. And this was twenty five years ago.
It’s increasingly and increasingly that you take an R rated movie and you make it PG-13. There’s not as much censorship on the BBC, I know that, or when you go to Canada, but in the States everything is either bleeped, blurred or cut early.
Learning curves and turning points
I am just learning every day and I hope to continue that until the day I die. I’m just trying to learn and experience as much as I possibly can. The Help was a huge turning point in my life, in terms of how I look at acting, how I look at being involved in this job and living my life and prioritising and learning every day.
I learn from every single person [on a film set] all the time, take things from every single person, soak and soak and soak and soak. I feel like all I’m able to be at this point in my life is a sponge. React react react react. I’m only as strong as the other person, ever, and I’m still not going to be as strong as the other person, so I’m just taking in as much as I can.
I don’t believe that everyone cares what I do all the time. I think you have to follow your own path and your own heart and not worry about what everybody else wants you to do. They should be worried about what they’re going to do. I’m not worried about what everybody else chooses to do next, I trust that you’ll figure it out on your own. And I hope that people trust that I will too.
The pressures of playing Skeeter in The Help
From the very beginning I thought there was a little bit of pressure because it’s my Mom’s favourite book. She made that very clear. So the pressure started at home. She was like “I don’t see you as Skeeter, but maybe you’ll surprise me” – no, I’m just kidding. I like being hard on her in public, for all those times she went up into my room, I can finally get her back for it.
I think I felt the responsibility. It’s a beloved book. But then you kind of have to put that aside and play the character in the best way you know how, and do what you need to do to bring that character to life and not worry about the millions of people who would weigh in.
For me, the political part of being an actor is very tough. To sit here and tell you why you should feel this way or that way about my character does not feel like my responsibility. It feels like the responsibility of the writer.
I’m learning this process of “Let me tell you why you shouldn’t see Skeeter this way”, or “You’re coming in with this judgement of it being a white character” but I’m focused on playing the character to the best of my ability.
I can’t tell the audience how to feel. I can’t tell reviewers how to feel. As an actor you just have to think about the truth of your character, and the way you know it needs to be played in your heart. This is why you were hired. So it’s hard for me to sit here and say “See Skeeter this way” or “See Skeeter that way” and it’s hard for me to fight for it.
If it doesn’t speak for itself, we can’t control that.
The Help is in UK cinemas now and headed to DVD and Blu-ray in the US on December 6th. It’s an impressively zippy film, with some great bits of visual storytelling and, as you’d expect, a good handful of strong performances. More on that later, though…