Emma Stone, Timothee Chalamet on how they dealt with young fame
Emma Stone and Timothee Chalamet sat down for a chat for Variety’sActors on Actors. For more, click here.
Timothée Chalamet’s emergence in last year’s Oscar race felt like a tidal wave. All at once, a gifted young star had surfaced, perhaps to claim the mantle for a new generation of leading men. He’s followed his 2017 performances in “Call Me by Your Name” and “Lady Bird” with “Beautiful Boy,” a family saga in which the 22-year-old Chalamet, as a wayward drug addict, both yearns for and repels his family’s love.
Emma Stone, by contrast, is a movie veteran at only 30. Following her breakout in “Easy A” with “The Help,” her Oscar-nominated role in “Birdman” and a win for “La La Land,” Stone has established herself as a generational standard-bearer. In this year’s “The Favourite,” Stone, as an aspiring courtier seeking the attention of Queen Anne, brandishes an iron will; it’s that quality, as much as Chalamet’s moving on-screen vulnerability, that suggests the pair may represent Hollywood’s future.
Timothée Chalamet: We’re not too far in age, but I really grew up seeing a lot of your movies.
Emma Stone: I’m so old.
Chalamet: I never saw “The New Partridge Family,” so what’s that? Is that the first gig ever?
Stone That was a reality search competition that I auditioned for when I was 15. I had been in L.A. for three months, and I was auditioning a lot, and I wasn’t getting any parts. I wasn’t being cast.
Chalamet: Were you staying at the Oakwood Apartments?
Stone: No, I was staying at Park La Brea. Did you ever live at the Oakwood?
Chalamet: No, but there’s a documentary about it that’s terrifying. It makes you want to not be in this business. Did you get that job?
Stone: I got it, yeah. I won the role of Laurie Partridge. And we made one episode, and then we were not picked up to series.
Chalamet: So that footage doesn’t, like, exist?
Stone: It does exist somewhere. And I wish that you could have seen it too.
Chalamet: What was “Crazy, Stupid, Love” like?
Stone: I was really in love with that script, but I put so much pressure on myself — I was 20, and while we were shooting it, I was just going nuts and was like, this whole thing could fail. It felt like it had to be well-calibrated throughout, and it was the first time that I ever had to rely on myself to be able to carry all of that.
Chalamet: And then when you saw it —
Stone: I haven’t seen it. Can you watch your stuff? Because I can now.
Chalamet: When I did “Interstellar,” I saw that 12 times in theaters and Imax.
Stone: You did, just to figure it out? You’re trying to crack that code.
Chalamet: I totally forgot the ending. In fact, Christopher Nolan had a screening at Lincoln Square, in Imax, and he invited just some of the people from the cast, which is surreal. It was a huge Imax theater, and it was just me, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and John Lithgow. And I really had no career at this point, so I was like the fraud a little bit. And I saw it, and I loved it, but then I went home to my dad and wept for an hour.
Chalamet: Because I just figured my part was bigger.
Stone: Oh no!
Chalamet: They didn’t even cut anything.
Stone: It felt so giant when you were doing it.
Chalamet: That’s exactly it. I have this monologue in space that’s [Matthew] McConaughey’s most brilliant acting in the movie where he’s getting those video logs and just weeping. And the whole thing plays on him, as it should, because that moment’s about him, but I’m in the theater and I was like —
Stone: I got incredible stuff here.
Chalamet: Yeah, and then it cuts like a grainy computer screen.
Stone: Obviously, in the past couple of years, things have been pretty electric for you, but watching films like that you were in, did you feel a lot of dejection?
Chalamet: No, it wasn’t dejection, and some part of my brain makes me want to say immediately there was always gratitude to be working. Because I grew up in an actors’ building in New York, and I know the privilege it is to be able to support yourself. And yet, when I saw “Interstellar” and it’s my favorite director and McConaughey’s just killing it … and I was there — it’s a feeling of, man, I’m getting close. I went up for all these things, and tested for “Spider-Man” and I didn’t get it, and a Tim Burton movie, too, and these things weren’t happening.
Stone: Tim Burton’s a crusher. Oh, my God, when I auditioned for “Alice in Wonderland,” and not getting a Tim Burton movie is really devastating. This is a pretty esoteric conversation; working at all is fantastic — you’re exactly right.
Chalamet: For me, it was “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” And then ironically, it was doing independent films that helps me not be cynical and be kind of inspired about the landscape we’re in now. People want a mirror of the things they see — they want to see things shot in a way that doesn’t feel like the sheen of Hollywood is there, and they want to see stories that feel real. That’s what I think. What do you think?
Stone: I totally disagree with you. We are on totally different pages, but whatever, it’s fine. Just kidding — you’re absolutely right. It’s an exciting time. There’s a lot of shift happening.
Chalamet: It felt like “The Favourite” was a tone I hadn’t seen you in before. I saw an interview where you said it was a very conscious choice to have a scene with nudity because you felt like it was true to the script.
Stone: I truly have never in my whole time working, which is not that long, I guess — it’s 12 or 13 years now — I have never, ever made a decision because I was like, “This is the kind of thing I need to do.” Now I try to combine all three elements of the script, the character and the director, but at different times it’s either that I am dying to work with this director or the script is incredible, or the character. It’s always been about that and not about that it needs to be this big movie or I need to show my tits or whatever. You have to talk to me about “Beautiful Boy.”
Stone: You’re so alive and honest in every moment, and to see you in that kind of pain was excruciating. What was it like?
Chalamet: What was it like? It was really difficult. To go through those scenes where you’re begging your father to come home and he says no. I can’t imagine anything worse than that feeling: “You are such a chaos in our life we can’t allow you in our home anymore.”
Stone: What you were experiencing as that character, who I know is a real person, was so immense. What did that require of you?
Chalamet: Felix [Van Groeningen], the director, wanted me to lose weight at the top.
Stone: How could you lose weight?
Chalamet: I know.
Stone: What did you do?
Chalamet: I thought, “There’s no business like show business.” It was supposed to be 15 [pounds] and then it was 18. It’s very hyper-concentrated portions of nutrients. You see “Snowpiercer”?
Chalamet: It’s the protein goo.
Stone: No! It’s like soylent or something.
Chalamet: Did you feel like you worked too much when you were young? Maybe this is a weird question.
Stone: I think I was really lucky that my first movie I was about to turn 18, and then things started. How are you feeling in this time in your life? I guess you don’t know, because you haven’t been older than you are right now?
Stone: “Easy A” came out when I was 21, and “Spider-Man” came out when I was 22. In that time period, to lose anonymity, I didn’t really understand what that would be like. It was easily the hardest aspect of all of this, even though I’m so grateful. How are you feeling with that kind of shift?
Chalamet: It’s not really overpowering or dramatic in any way, truthfully. People saw me, but it hasn’t been really nuts. I feel such pride for “Call Me by Your Name” and “Lady Bird” and the fact that we made those on shoestring budgets. I went in for “Spider-Man” and those things, and I didn’t get them. Those are prepackaged, you’ll-be-famous-after-this kind of things. “Call Me by Your Name” and “Lady Bird,” they really weren’t. We were making art-house movies. I think that’s what helps me when I get stopped: It’s about the movies.