Emma Stone portrays one of Disney’s most stylish villains in "Cruella," the live-action origin story of the titular designer and thief who later develops a disturbing obsession with the pelts of Dalmatians. It might be hard for some fans of the film to believe that the confident and commanding future puppy-napper with punk flair is played by someone who seriously struggled with anxiety and shyness.
Emily Jean Stone was born on November 6, 1988 in Scottsdale, Arizona (via Britannica). She would later choose a slightly different stage name for herself. Growing up, Stone suffered from debilitating anxiety that was "constant," as she told Rolling Stone in 2017. "At a certain point, I couldn’t go to friends’ houses anymore — I could barely get out the door to school."
Stone began going to therapy when she was 7 years old. She revealed that one of her coping mechanisms was to visualize her anxiety as a small green monster. During a 2017 appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," she even shared a picture of herself and the fiend — which was vaguely shaped like the female reproductive system — that she drew at age 9. Stone said that she also discovered something else that helped her overcome her anxiety: acting.
Emma Stone had a hairy start on the stage
Emma Stone had a hard time kicking the habit of sucking her thumb, which she did until she was 11 years old. Because of this, she had to have an expander put in. She also had braces and wore glasses. "I was a good-looking kid. I never felt, like, dorky," she told Elle in 2011. By age 13, she was totally transforming her look to portray different characters onstage as a member of the Valley Youth Theatre located in Phoenix, Arizona.
During a 2014 appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Stone took a trip down memory lane by looking at photos of her early performances. Her first big role was that of Otter in "The Wind in the Willows," which required her to rock some pretty wild chest hair (pictured above). According to E! News, she portrayed numerous other characters on the stage, including Tweedledum in "Alice in Wonderland" and one of the wicked stepsisters in "Cinderella."
While speaking to Vanity Fair in 2017, Stone revealed that Valley Youth Theatre’s producing artistic director, Bobb Cooper, is the person she respects most in her life. "He was the first person to give me any role, but also a dramatic role," she said. Cooper praised his former student’s acting skills, telling KGUN 9 that Stone’s "comedic timing was extraordinary," and when he challenged her with a dramatic role, "she did it with flying colors."
Emma Stone’s PowerPoint presentation led to a role on a reality show
Emma Stone told The Hollywood Reporter that she convinced her parents to let her pursue an acting career by creating a PowerPoint presentation titled "Project Hollywood," that laid out how they could make it happen. "It’s nuts that they agreed to it," she said. One of the steps was for her and her mom to move to Los Angeles, but she had to find an agent first.
A local acting coach used her connections to help the aspiring star out, and Stone’s performance of one of Alicia Silverstone’s monologues from the comedy "Clueless" helped her get signed with the Savage Agency, per Vanity Fair. The ninth-grader then dropped out of school and headed to Hollywood.
Stone didn’t find immediate success. She worked at a dog treat bakery for a while, where she received a few complaints about the quality of her cookies. She caught her first big break at age 15 when she was cast in a VH1 reality show. The winners were supposed to appear on a reboot of "The Partridge Family," and Stone actually won the role of Laurie. According to the Daily Mail, the songs she performed were "B***h" by Meredith Brooks and "We Belong" by Pat Benetar. "You go in there rolling your eyes, thinking, This is just a reality search competition, but then you’re there for seven weeks, and you just really, really want to win," Stone told Vogue in 2014.
How Emma Stone spiced up her name and got her signature look
"The Partridge Family" reboot didn’t get picked up, but soon Emma Stone was landing other TV gigs. She had small roles on "Medium" and "Malcolm in the Middle," and she voiced Ivana Tipton — London Tipton’s Pomeranian — in an episode of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", per Seventeen.
At age 16, Emma decided to change her first name after learning that there was another actress named Emily Stone. She told W Magazine that she tried going by the name Riley while filming "Malcolm in the Middle," but realized that it wasn’t working for her when she kept failing to answer to the moniker. During a 2018 appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," she recalled why she became enamored with the name Emma when she was younger. "Growing up, I was super blonde, and my real name is Emily, but I wanted to be called Emma because of Baby Spice," she said.
Emma switched the color of her hair to the red shade that would become her signature look at age 18 when she landed her first major movie role in "Superbad." In 2011, she told PopSugar that she has the director of her 2007 comedy to thank for the change. "Judd Apatow walked in and said, ‘Make it red.’ So they took me to a colorist and made my hair red," she recalled.
Emma Stone received her Oscar from her celebrity crush
Emma Stone’s career took off after "Superbad." She continued honing her comedic skills in "The House Bunny," "Zombieland," and "Easy A." After she appeared in the period drama "The Help," her co-star Octavia Spencer declared that "she has the goods" (via Vogue).
Stone scored a coveted role in a superhero flick when she was cast as Gwen Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man." She also fell in love with co-star Andrew Garfield while working on the 2012 film, and the couple dated for four years. Stone earned her first Oscar nomination for a different superhero movie, the 2014 dramedy "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)."
Stone was 28 when she won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the whimsical 2016 musical "La La Land." The win served as more than an affirmation of her talent; it was also a big deal for her because she received her Oscar statuette from her celebrity crush, Leonardo DiCaprio. During an appearance on The Jess Cagle Show, she revealed that she was such a big fan of the "Titanic" star that she was gifted a signed photo of him for her 12th birthday. "I was walking to Leo and I was like, ‘This is officially the most surreal moment of my life.’ I could not believe it," she said.
Emma Stone seems to have it all
Emma Stone’s success in life goes beyond the silver screen. Cameron Crowe interviewed her for Interview Magazine in 2012, and he wrote that she "studied ‘Saturday Night Live’ religiously" growing up. This makes it seem a bit serendipitous that Stone found love while hosting the show in 2016. It was there that she met Dave McCary, an "SNL" director and writer.
Stone was 31 years old in 2019 when she and McCary got engaged. Almost a year later, the couple secretly tied the knot. As reported by TMZ, Stone gave birth to their first child, a baby girl named Louise Jean McCary, on March 13, 2021.
It doesn’t look like Stone is letting motherhood slow her down. According to Deadline, she’s playing the lead in the Showtime comedy "The Curse," which is about a possibly cursed couple who are trying to get pregnant while working on a "problematic new HGTV show." She’s also been cast in the movie "Poor Things," which will see her portray a dead woman who gets revived by "an eccentric, brilliant scientist," per The Wrap. Both projects have intriguing premises with potential, just like her Disney prequel. If Stone can make an aspiring canine killer seem likable, then she’s proved once again that she can do pretty much anything.