Since the mid-1990s, setting classic literature in contemporary high school has produced some hits (Clueless, Ten Things I Hate About You) and some misses (Cruel Intentions, She’s The Man). Easy A, a re-mastering of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th-century tale of adultery and pious prudence, The Scarlet Letter, fits quite nicely with the first group.
Newly minted It Girl (and Lindsay Lohan thunder-stealer) Emma Stone stars as Olive Penderghast, a high schooler who takes a page from her assigned reading material and uses Hawthorne’s lessons to grease the school’s rumor mill, upping her social and financial standing. Stone says she was attracted to the way the script addressed topics anyone who’s been to high school could relate to without pandering.
“The subject of gossip, judging a book by its cover without knowing the full story, extremism, technology and they way information travels, the speed of everything,” she explains. “Like when Olive says something and it goes all the way around and gets back to her and it’s been 30 seconds. What’s messed up is that’s actually the way things happen.”
The 21-year-old starlet admits taking on her first leading role was more than a little daunting.
“I was a little [anxious] the whole time,” Stone says, chuckling. “I didn’t know I was such a micro-manager, but I am. I had to be up first and be there last every day. In my spare time, I’d try to sleep, which I wasn’t doing too much of. I think it was less about the size of the role and more about wanting to do the character justice. But that pressure didn’t come from anyone else, it was all self-inflicted.”
The result of all that self-imposed pressure is a performance that has Hollywood searching for labels to define the young star. As far as any similarities to Lindsay Lohan (the red hair, the throaty rasp, the high school movie rocketing her into the stratosphere), Stone refuses to comment, instead offering a wry, knowing grin. She is, however, quick to bat away her newfound title as the Next Big Thing.
“That’s nice,” Stone shrugs, “but it’s such a fleeting label to put on someone. A week later they say ‘And this girl is the new It Girl.’
“I just hope I get to keep working steadily because it’s been nice to call this my only job. My ultimate goal is to not have to go work somewhere else. I’m so lucky and happy to be here, today. It’s amazing now and I’m just trying to appreciate it.”