The 28-year-old La La Land actress covers the latest issue of Rolling Stone, in which she opens up about how the film helped give her a voice — a change from past projects where she says she faced difficulties speaking out and was treated differently from her male counterparts.
“There are times in the past, making a movie, when I’ve been told that I’m hindering the process by bringing up an opinion or an idea,” Stone explains. “I hesitate to make it about being a woman, but there have been times when I’ve improvised, they’ve laughed at my joke and then given it to my male costar. Given my joke away.”
She continues: “Or it’s been me saying, ‘I really don’t think this line is gonna work,’ and being told, ‘Just say it, just say it, if it doesn’t work we’ll cut it out’ – and they didn’t cut it out, and it really didn’t work!’”
Stone, who has starred in hits like Easy A, Superbad and The Amazing Spider-Man and will likely be an Oscar contender this year for her work in La La Land, has come a long way since her days of growing up as an anxious child in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As a kid, Stone faced debilitating panic attacks and says her brain would naturally zoom “30 steps ahead to the worst-case scenario.”
“When I was about 7, I was convinced the house was burning down. I could sense it,” she says. “Not a hallucination, just a tightening in my chest, feeling I couldn’t breathe, like the world was going to end. There were some flare-ups like that, but my anxiety was constant.”
She adds: “At a certain point, I couldn’t go to friends’ houses anymore – I could barely get out the door to school.”
Along with the help from therapy, performing became a major way for Stone to overcome her anxiety.
“I started acting at this youth theater, doing improv and sketch comedy,” she says. “You have to be present in improv, and that’s the antithesis of anxiety.”