Emma Stone on her move to TV in new Netflix show Maniac: If Nicole's in, I'm in
The world's highest-paid actress last year, Oscar-winner Emma Stone has had a whirlwind movie career – and now she has made the move to the small screen in Netflix series Maniac. She told Gemma Dunn about the venture, which launches tomorrow
WITH no shortage of Hollywood greats flocking to the small screen, it was only a matter of time until star-of-the-moment Emma Stone took the plunge.
But she insists her next outing wasn't so much a "career decision", but a chance to explore a mind-bending world in a series scripted by US novelist Patrick Somerville and directed by True Detective's Cary Joji Fukunaga.
The actress, who last year won her first Academy Award for her role in the musical La La Land, will join the likes of Justin Theroux and long-time friend Jonah Hill in Netflix's latest sci-fi offering, Maniac.
"I was like, 'If Nicole Kidman's done it, I'll do it. If Nicole's in, I'm in'," Stone (29) jokes of her shift to TV.
"No," she adds with a smile. "Cary and I had talked about this. We first met in January 2016, about a year and a half before it came together, and I just thought it was exciting to explore these people over that length of time. It was a joy to make."
Set in a world somewhat like ours, the 10-episode run, based on the Norwegian television series of the same name, tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Hill), two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons.
While Annie is disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships with her mother and sister, Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia.
But a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment, a sequence of pills, derived from inventor Dr James K Mantleray (Theroux), claims it can repair anything about the mind – be it mental illness or heartbreak, and, in turn, solve all of their problems permanently.
Since her Best Actress Oscar Stone, who appeared in more than 20 movies in the previous decade, has had two big-screen roles, one in acclaimed 2017 movie Battle Of The Sexes, in which she played tennis legend Billie Jean King, the second a British historical drama, The Favourite, in which she starred alongside Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz.
"The Favourite film was right after," she says. "It was an interesting juxtaposition, although in an episode of [Maniac], I did get to have a bit of an [English] accent again, which is nice.
"So yeah, two very different things, but both equally exciting in two different outlandish ways."
Maniac, for one, required Stone to switch between multiple realities and characters, a symptom of the fallout when things, medical-wise, don't go to plan.
"It was so exciting because I had about two weeks per character, not counting Annie," she recalls. "So I loved getting to go into all these different people, even though it was a little challenging and exhausting and confusing.
"But that's the nature of the show: challenging, exhausting and confusing."
With the idea the mystery drugs trial will cure any anguish, what message does Stone think the show gives out in regard to mental health?
"I think the conversation about mental health is very important," begins Stone, who enjoyed being reunited with her Superbad co-star, Hill, for the part. "What Annie has been through or what Owen has been through and what they're dealing with mentally, I thought that was important.
"But I don't know that the intention was to make a big statement about mental health, per se."
Will it help to address the social stigma that surrounds the subject?
"I would hope in general, in the world, we understand that there is no 'normal',"says Stone, who was also nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in 2014's Birdman.
"People go through all sorts of things and if you need a pill to help balance the way your chemistry works, fine. If you need to go to therapy, fine. But it's about human connection at the end of the day."
She adds: "If we can reach out to each other and not make each other feel like s**t because we're all going through a bunch of stuff, I mean I need that. I need to know that. Just in terms of what I've gone through.
"But again, everybody has got their own version of something going on internally. So yeah, the lack of stigma is great; I'm glad more people talk about the struggles we have."
Those who have followed Stone's meteoric rise to Hollywood royalty will appreciate her honesty.
Despite her deserved acclaim and reported title as the highest-paid actress in the world in 2017, the Arizona-born star, who earned her stripes at the local youth theatre at the age of 11 before moving to Los Angeles as a teenager with her mother, remains as down-to-earth as they come.
"I am blessed with a great family and great people around me," she said last year, when pushed on her successes.
"They would be able to kick me in the shins if I ever for one minute got lost up in the clouds. I've been really lucky in that sense."
Recently Stone, who is next set to appear in the drama Love May Fail, and will portray Cruella de Vil in a live-action spin-off of One Hundred And One Dalmatians, also made the admission that she's used the last few months to get "a little perspective".
"Things were so heavy work-wise for the past few years," she told her BFF Jennifer Lawrence in an interview for Elle. "And honestly, so many of my dreams are now personal and less professional."
Of her approaching big birthday this November, she mused: "It's weird how much turning 30 crystallises your life.
"Instead of just living the dreams that I had in my youth and getting to do the job that I love to do and making friends and going through all of that, it's like, 'Now what do I actively want as an adult?'"
Whatever Stone decides, her legions of film fans are sure to be right behind her.
:: Maniac launches on Netflix tomorrow.