Emma Stone in Gangster Squad grace

Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and–if he has his way–every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara and Jerry Wooters, who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart. ‘Gangster Squad’ is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time.

Under the direction of Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), ‘Gangster Squad’ stars Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as the LAPD’s Sgt. John O’Mara and Jerry Wooters, and Sean Penn as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen. The film also stars Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Mireille Enos, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte as LAPD Chief “Whiskey Bill” Parker, and Emma Stone as Grace Faraday, Cohen’s moll and the object of Wooters’ attention. ‘Gangster Squad’ is set for a January 10th release in the UK and a January 11th release in the US.

After working with Ruben Fleischer on ‘Zombieland,’ can you recall your initial discussion with him about joining the cast of ‘Gangster Squad’? And what was it about this story and era that appealed to you?

Emma Stone: We sat down and talked about the story and the character, and I said, “Of course, let’s do this together.” I love Ruben, he’s so enthusiastic and his shots are so beautiful. And I think gangster movies and movies set in the 40s in general really represent the golden age of Hollywood, you know? When women really looked like women and men really looked like men. There’s something so romantic and smoky and nostalgic about this whole time period. And I loved the intense action and suspense. I immediately felt that I knew what it must have been like to be a part of that place and time. It was amazing being on these sets, really feeling like a part of this world in 1949. I love watching movies from the 30s and 40s and the “golden age” of Hollywood, and I think everyone involved in the movie felt the same way.

When we’re introduced to Grace, she’s Mickey Cohen’s current “arm candy.” Yet, deep down she wants so much more for herself….?

Emma Stone: Grace moved out to Hollywood to be a star. Not an actress, a star, and clearly, things didn’t go according to plan. I imagine she kind of fell in with Mickey’s crowd, and that being on the arm of this incredibly powerful man gave her the admiration she was looking for, so she convinced herself it was alright. Now, even though she feels trapped, she knows that, without him, she’s got maybe a couple of bucks between her and the street. But I think she starts to play with fire a little bit, she starts to kind of test the water.

emma stone gangster squad

You can tell she fears Mickey….

Emma Stone: Yeah. Grace is really quiet around Mickey, she doesn’t really say much. She’s kind of afraid of doing the wrong thing, or of stepping out of line – which is funny because she steps the furthest out of line, secretly (laughs). But it was nice for me, because of the fact that Grace is so observant and terrified of Mickey, that I felt like that I got to watch Sean Penn a lot. It was amazing to see Sean play Mickey, and that transformation with the prosthetics and how different he looks.

She finds a kindred spirit in Ryan Gosling’s Wooters. And despite the obvious risk, Wooters finds Grace  irresistible, and Grace is not immune to his charms, either?

Emma Stone: Oh yeah. Grace, she wants to be alive again and she has this spark inside her while she’s sitting at all these tables with Mickey, around all these men. For Wooters she’s playing this part, she finally gets to be the actress she wanted to be. And Wooters, he asks her to make a choice. The choice is kind of forced upon her, as people will see in the scene with Wooters where he refuses to let her go to Mickey without an explanation of why she’s with this man.

How was it working alongside Ryan Gosling as Wooters, considering that dangerous dynamic?

Emma Stone: I’m the luckiest girl in the world because of Wooters being played by Ryan. That was a huge asset because he’s so fantastic at that kind of banter we share in the film, plus we get along really well. It was nice having that teammate, that partner, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with him before – that was really beneficial. I love the Grace and Wooters scenes, that was such a huge draw for being a part of the movie for me because I just think it’s so nice seeing two people come alive together.

How was it for you coming up with the look for Grace? She really has that “golden age” of Hollywood look?

Emma Stone: Yeah. We all brainstormed, and came up with a hodgepodge of a lot of 40s movie stars. She has the teeth of Vivien Leigh, the hair of Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall’s makeup and, well, all of it is Rita Hayworth (laughs). But I think that’s what Grace did, too. A lot of those ingenues did it. And since Grace wanted to be a star, I think she pieced together all the women she found beautiful and tried to be all of them at once. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, career-wise, because she’s not all of them…. or any of them.

Look out for part 2 of this interview next week.