It was almost a serendipitous moment at the Oscars: Emma Stone wins best actress for La La Land along with best director Damien Chazelle, and then the movie wins best picture. But that’s not how the latter part of it went down as best picture presenter Warren Beatty confessed he was reading incorrectly off the best actress winner card which listed Emma Stone as best actress, instead of the best picture card.
Stone’s take: “I was holding the best actress card the entire time. I had that card. I’m not looking to start anything,” she told the press in the Oscar media room, “I don’t know what happened (with them), but I wanted to tell all of you first.”
“I think everyone is in a state of confusion, but everyone is excited for Moonlight,” Stone said regarding the oops moment tonight, “A strange happening for Oscar history.”
Here’s the thing: It’s likely both Stone and Beatty had their own respective best actress cards since the accounting firm provides two identical envelopes for each winner. So it’s possible the second best actress Emma Stone envelope was handed to Beatty somehow.
Barry Jenkins props that theory as he told the press corps, “There were two cards…But please write this down, the La La Land crew was so gracious. I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do this.”
Nonetheless, like La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz who called out the real best picture winner on stage, Stone remained classy in giving props for Moonlight, “I’m an actor and I dream of this kind of thing and in a realistic context, I f***king love Moonlight. I’m so excited for Moonlight. Of course, it was an amazing thing to hear La La Land. I think we all would have loved to win best picture. But I’m so excited about Moonlight. It’s one of the best films.”
The 28-year old actress takes home her first Oscar tonight for playing Mia in La La Land, a struggling actress who falls for a struggling jazz musician in the City of Angels. Two years ago, Stone was here at the Dolby Theatre with her first nomination for playing a pot-addled and emotionally distraught movie star’s daughter in Birdman.
Of all the titles that Stone could win an Oscar for, La La Land is a special one for her having cut her teeth as a child actress in the Phoenix, Arizona musical theater scene performing in such shows as The Princess and the Pea, The Wind in the Willows and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Prior to La La Land, you could say she had the ideal warm-up: Taking over for Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles in the 2014-15 run of Cabaret, which marked Stone’s Broadway debut.
On playing Mia, Stone said backstage, “I’ve known her for 13 years. I moved here when I was 15 and know what it felt like to go on audition after audition.”
Sometimes Oscar winners and nominees can wind up here doing a limited amount of press, and by flying into L.A. for a weekend prior to nom balloting. Not Stone. She’s been working it and raising the profile of the Lionsgate/Summit film since her return from the pic’s launch and Venice-Telluride and Toronto.
In less than 12 years, Stone has become a household name here in Hollywood. One of her early turns included a guest turn on Louis C.K. HBO comedy series Lucky Louie in 2006 as a rebellious daughter who takes refuge in C.K.’s domicile. A natural blonde, Stone was told by producer Judd Apatow to keep her hair red when she scored the role of Jules, a pungent girl who Jonah Hill’s Seth steals a kiss from. She never changed it back. Starring opposite Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland further raised her profile, but it was Sony’s 2010 thrifty teen comedy ($8M production cost, $75M global B.O.) Easy A that showed that Stone had the power to carry a film all on her own. Not only was it critically acclaimed, but it opened at No. 1 back in September 2010 to $17.7M.
La La Land, which currently counts north of $140M at the domestic B.O., is Stone’s fourth highest grossing live-action movie of all-time after The Amazing Spider-Man ($262M), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($202M), and The Help ($169.7M).
Stone capped off her acceptance speech on stage admitting, “I still have a lot of growing and learning to do and this guy is a beautiful symbol to continue on this journey.”