HDD Study Hall: 5 Fantastic Performances by Emma Stone

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM PDT by

by Luke Hickman

By now, Emma Stone should be a household name. In her four short years on the big screen, Stone has appeared in almost every genre of film.

She hit the ground running with comedic supporting roles in 'Superbad,' 'The Rocker,' 'The House Bunny,' 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' and horror comedy 'Zombieland.' She voiced the best friend of man's best friend in family flick 'Marmaduke,' earned a Golden Globe nomination with her first leading role in the teen comedy 'Easy A' and has already hosted 'Saturday Night Live.'

At this precise moment, Emma Stone can be seen in three movies currently playing in theaters: 'Friends with Benefits,' 'The Help' and 'Crazy, Stupid, Love.' Mostly known for her comedic chops, in her latest release, 'The Help,' Stone shows that she's got the dramatic, serious role skills too. All she has left to do is appear in a thriller and an action flick.

Next summer, Stone will appear in what is expected to be her biggest movie yet, 'The Amazing Spider-Man.' In the reboot of Sony's 'Spider-Man' franchise, Stone will play Peter Parker's love interest, Gwen Stacy. For the role, Stone returns to her unseen-on-the-big-screen blond roots.

As Emma Stone continues to rise in popularity and success, lets take a moment to reflect on five of her very best roles to date.

'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past'

Matthew McConaughey's (supposedly) romantic comedies are the worst out there. Not only are they all the same, but he's always playing the same character in each one. There are two things that 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' has going for it: one, Kate Hudson isn't in it(!!) and, two, Emma Stone is.

Despite 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' being a terrible, terrible movie, Emma Stone shows up and acts circles around every other character out there. Putting a spin on the Ghost of Christmas Past from 'A Christmas Carol,' Stone plays the '80s-tastic Ghost of Girlfriends Past who walks a womanizing McConaughey (go figure) through his past, present and future of failed relationships.

While 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' is so bad that it could not be saved, Emma Stone's performance is the shining light that helps you get through the dark mess that is unoriginal and cliched modern romantic comedy. Unless you obsess over Emma Stone, this isn't a recommendation to raise 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' up on your Netflix queue, more of a speck of hope in case your significant other makes you sit through it.


Anyone who had seen Emma Stone on screen prior to 'Zombieland' knew that she was something special, but 'Zombieland' is the little horror comedy that made everyone fall in love with her. With caked-on dark eyeliner matching her smoky voice, her role as Wichita was unforgettable.

When you first meet Wichita in 'Zombieland,' she's about to shoot her own infected sister. She's vulnerable and helpless, a perfect match for Jesse Eisneberg's leading character Columbus. But in the flip of a switch her tough conman persona comes out and we see an aspect of Stone's abilities in Wichita that we hadn't seen before.

As corny as it may sound, Wichita is a complex character with many sides. She and her actions are unexpected and unpredictable. She can go from tough to soft, and vice verse, in a heartbeat. True, the character is written this way, but it's Stone who brings it to life and for this we love her.

'Easy A'

There comes a point where every young, relatively unknown actor must prove him/herself by taking on the lead role in a run-of-the-mill movie to test his/her marketability. For Emma Stone, that film was 'Easy A.'

In 'Easy A,' Stone plays defiant Olive, a proper high school teen who fights the social norms of rumors and gossip by creating negative false gossip about herself to boost the self esteem of the lowly unpopular kids on campus.

Olive's downward spiral begins when her best friend mistakenly spreads a rumor that Olive had sex with a college age guy. When a gay friend approaches Olive about the rumor, he asks her for permission to spread a rumor that he, too, slept with her, hoping that it will put the gay rumors about him to rest. Since her image is already tarnished, Olive agrees. But before long, the unpopular boys around campus hear of Olive's self-sacrifice to lift others up, so they beg for her help in the same fashion. Geeks aren't geeks if everyone thinks they've slept with the school hussy.

Stone takes what should have been a mediocre teen movie and turns it into something sugary sweet and entertaining. She absolutely shines in 'Easy A.' Proving that she has the up-and-coming star power needed to carry and drive a film, 'Easy A' went on to gross more than seven times its budget during its domestic box office run. While 30-year-old men shouldn't be bragging about owning teen movies, 'Easy A' is a Blu-ray that I proudly admit to having in my collection.

'Friends with Benefits'

How often do you see an actor start getting cameos after only four years of experience on the big screen? Never. I cannot think of another actor getting to do this – but Emma Stone does.

Stone shows up in the opening scene of 'Friends with Benefits' as the girlfriend Justin Timberlake has placed on the back burner behind his job. When he arrives late to her favorite artist's sold-out concert, she dumps him and races off to the concert by herself. Knowing that she comes second in his life, she says, “It's not you - it's me. I don't like you anymore,” then runs off to the show screaming, “John-F—king-Mayer!” What she does in a few short minutes is far better than most actors out there.

With 'Friends with Benefits' being from the same director as 'Easy A,' you can make the claim that she only got the cameo because of their having worked together in the past – but you'd be wrong. Stone has shown off her character acting muscles and is more than worthy to have cameo status.

'Crazy, Stupid, Love.'

From the trailers, you would expect Emma Stone to get a lot more screentime in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' than she actually does. But even though she may not appear as much as you'd like, her character is nonetheless essential to the story at hand. Those who have seen the film know what I mean. For those you who have not, I will keep this spoiler-free for you.

In 'Crazy, Stupid, Love,' Stone plays Hanna, a graduating law student who is about to take the Bar exam. Hanna is a little conflicted. Because of the hoity-toity attitude that comes with the profession, she feels like she must tone herself down to match the low energy level of her colleagues. Hanna's best friend is the complete opposite of her law school friends – she drinks too much, stays out late, and isn't afraid to go home with a guy she meets while clubbing. She frequently teases Hanna about being too uptight and leading a PG-13 life, daring her to live on the wild side.

As the film progresses – and as we see in the trailer – Hanna accepts the challenge and tries stepping up to an R-rated life by hooking up with a wealthy womanizer played by Ryan Gosling. As if Stone's character wasn't completely lovable before this point, she will win you over even more through the rest of the film. In a setting far different from 'Zombieland,' Stone again shows off her ability to play multifaceted characters.

Emma Stone isn't just the one-trick comedic sideshow pony that so many young actors who start off in comedy tend to be. She's miles ahead of her 'Superbad' co-stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Not only can she be funny, but she can believably play tough, vulnerable, charming, cute, crazy and dramatic as well. Whatever lies ahead in her career path, you can be sure that she will be fantastic.

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Tags: HDD Study Hall, Fun Stuff, Luke Hickman, Emma Stone (all tags)