emma stone gangster squad pic

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. My other interviews for the film can be found through the following links (more to come): Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone #1.

What do you think it is about the 40s/50s era that appeals to audiences and storytellers alike?

Emma Stone: The “Golden Age”! I think… first of all they made a number of really amazing movies in that era, so you’re able to look back at some really incredible actors and stories that were told. But then I also think it’s about the way that everybody dressed, the way that everybody spoke. Looking back on it, it feels like this gauzy, removed time – which feels kind of untouchable now. Plus, the girls were broads, and I loved that. They were witty and funny.

And with your character Grace, before you even jumped into filming, did you go back and watch movies from that era? How did you approach her?

Emma Stone:  Grace is, underneath it all, desperate for love and attention. She wanted to be a star and that didn’t work out, she’s now right at the bottom of the money rung, she’s having to depend on this really dangerous guy to take care of her. I’m a fan of Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, leading ladies from that time, so I’d seen their movies and I did look at them again. But honestly, I didn’t watch many gangster movies, just because of the violence (laughs). So I’m not a huge gangster movie buff.

But, with Grace, what we had talked about was the fact that she had come out to Los Angeles to be famous, and she ended up on the arm of someone who was really notorious – which is what reality show people are sometimes like today. She was just famous by association or by proxy. I thought that was interesting. Something pretty heartbreaking was going on, underneath the surface.

emma stone gangster squad pic 2

How helpful were the costumes and sets in getting into character? For me, the look of the film is stunning.

Emma Stone: The corset, that was appreciated (laughs). It was lots and lots of makeup – cover up the freckles! The red lips, the eyebrows, all of that – it was fun because I am really interested in that. So that was a fun part of the process. And the sets, it was like you’re walking back into the 40s, it’s cigarette smoke and girls dancing in gold tops, champagne flutes, you really felt like you were transported back – which was amazing because its been such a long time since I was a kid in 40s, so it was great to remind myself (laughs). But seriously, that stuff is a great help. The sets and costumes were so detailed, it was pretty amazing.

How was it working opposite Sean Penn? He really transformed into Mickey…

Emma Stone: Oh man, that was great. Sean Penn’s one of the greatest actors alive, that’s for sure. I felt pretty lucky to witness that, witness what he did with Mickey Cohen. He completely transforms, so you learn that there are people who have the ability to just truly be completely someone else – I don’t know what that teaches me though (laughs), other than just being in awe.

And then working with Ryan Gosling again after ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ How was it working with him on ‘Gangster Squad,’ it’s such a different film?

Emma Stone: It’s not the easiest thing to do, to slip into a different dynamic with somebody who you know. You have to try it over and over and over again. It was interesting, because I’d never really worked with someone again, for the second time. But learning how your dynamic shifts from one thing to another, that was kind of interesting. It’s always fun with Ryan though, we goof around a lot.

The time that this movie is set was so groundbreaking for the movie business. Can you recall a person or a particular movie that inspired you to delve into acting?

Emma Stone: There are a few things. There was ‘Saturday Night Live,’ there was ‘The Jerk’ – with Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters and Catlin Adams. Also, there was ‘Les Miserables,’ the first play I saw. And then there was my first school play, which was ‘No Turkey for Perky,’ a Thanksgiving play. I really enjoyed that and it made me realise that I loved getting to perform. That had a real big impact on me.

sean penn emma stone