Did Hollywood Bring Back the Golden Age of Hollywood?:
Behind the Scenes of LA LA LAND with Emma Stone
By Ben Kayser, Managing Editor
Director Damien Chazelle (WHIPLASH) is hoping to bring back a bit of the Golden Age of Hollywood in his latest movie LA LA LAND about two Los Angeles dreamers, one an aspiring actress and the other a jazz pianist who fall in love, but must balance their relationship with their pursuit of their dreams.
Breaking out in song and dance comes almost naturally to the two leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who dance with enthusiasm. Sitting down with Emma Stone to discuss her role, she readily admitted drawing inspiration from legends like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
“I watched a lot of Fred and Ginger movies, but only to a point,” she said, “I’m never going to be Ginger Rogers in three months, but it was really inspiring to watch movies like SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN or TOP HAT.”
In a sense, LA LA LAND is a tribute to old Hollywood, but it also touches on the conflict between art and commercialization.
Writer/Director Damien Chazelle, who also participated in a recent interview with Movieguide®, said, “I love the old musicals, I love jazz, I love all these things that the modern world tells us are either marginalized now, or outdated.
“So what do you do as a lover of older forms? Do you try to push them to modernity at the risk of bastardizing them, or do you try to preserve what you feel is their essence at the risk of making them even more marginalized?”
He added, “It can apply to almost any art form. Even movies we talk about today, ‘Oh movies are dying.’ Obviously, I don’t believe that, but I think it is a universal question among any art form.”
As far as artistry, Damien, who studied as a musician before committing to filmmaking, loves what music can add to a story’s emotion.
“I love so much what you can do with the combination of music and imagery,” he explained. “With both this movie, and previous movies, I love the idea of saying as much as you can without dialogue.”
Emma Stone’s character is Mia, a struggling actress working as a barista. Stone said she thinks back on her first job before finding success.
“I worked at a dog bakery when I moved to L.A.,” she said. “Do I remember those days? Yes, I do!”
When auditioning, however, Stone admits that auditions gone bad are tough, but they aren’t the worst that can happen.
“You go on these auditions thinking, ‘Oh, I’m being rejected,’ but you meet these people along the way that actually do remember you and do give you another chance. So, you don’t really know what even the bad situations will lead to, which I guess is true for anything in life.”
While Stone has done work in drama and even played a big role as Gwen Stacey in THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN, her favorite genre is comedy. Charlie Chaplin’s CITY LIGHTS is her favorite movie, she said.
“I was mostly [into] comedy movies growing up, and that still will always be my favorite thing,” she said.
“I was talking to Molly Shannon the other day, who’s been one of my heroes for forever, and she was talking about comedy and how rhythmic it is. Drama is this incredibly vulnerable thing, but comedy, you have to have a sense of rhythm and be very sensitive to the pace of things, which she was saying is very musical. In some ways, a comedy and a musical do go very hand in hand, because I always loved musicals growing up, but it was stage musicals, like LES MISERABLES and RENT.”Click here to become a monthly donor and receive a copy of STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON on DVD!