Gosling and Stone on ‘La La Land’ and their movie romance Couple with chemistry


By Jake Coyle

AP Film Writer

NEW YORK

Bogart and Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn. Stone and Gosling.

The hugely charming Los Angeles musical “La La Land” seals it: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have entered the ranks of great cinematic couples. Their easy rapport together was first hinted at with “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” and carried through the crime drama “Gangster Squad.”

Those, though, were only appetizers to Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” in which they star as two flailing aspirants trying to make it in LA. Stone plays an actress, Gosling a jazz pianist. They sing. They dance. They patter like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

“La La Land,” a resurrection of joyful 1930s studio musicals on contemporary LA streets, is an impassioned argument for the movies, in all their widescreen glory. And part of that vintage Hollywood experience includes big ol’ movie stars.

In an era that has struggled to produce them, Stone and Gosling stand apart as two of our best answers. In “La La Land,” they’re our version of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, maybe not quite as light on their feet (who is?), but more natural and funnier.

How far will they push their on-screen chemistry? “Do you think people would let us do anything together again?” Stone asked her co-star during an interview earlier this fall. “I don’t think we’d be allowed.”

After greeting warmly (Gosling had been shooting “Blade Runner 2049”), the actors sat down to reflect on why they go so well together, their own tortured paths to Hollywood success and just how deep their movie love runs.

Q. Did either of you hesitate about working together again?

STONE: That was an exciting aspect that it was our third thing together. The characters also have by the end five years between them and I think we’d probably known each other that long by that point. It’s kind of nice to not have to find that when the story depends so much on the connection between the two of them.

GOSLING: It’s also nice when you know the people you’re working with. Most of the time, everyone’s a stranger. It’s fine. That’s your job to make it seem like you have a relationship. But it certainly makes it a lot easier when you have one. And you listen to the way that person says their line more closely. You watch the way they’re playing the scene because you know each other. You’re more engaged in the scene than you would be otherwise.

Q. You both seem to a certain degree like comedic actors at heart.

STONE: It’s the best. It’s my favorite. Not to the exclusion of other types of films, but I do love comedy. That will always be my first love. (Turns to Gosling.) What do you think?

GOSLING: What’s nice about it is you want to feel that whatever you’re doing is working. With comedy, it’s funny or it’s not.

Q. The film portrays some soul-crushing auditions. Were they familiar?

STONE: The first audition was inspired by Ryan’s story.

GOSLING: Yeah, where I had to cry and this lady took a call in the middle of it. And then just told me to go on, “Pick up where I left off.” That was part of what was great about making this film was Damien encouraged us to bring our experiences to these characters.

Q. Did either of you ever think about giving up?

STONE: I definitely thought about it. It was like a twice a year thing. Every six months there was a little meltdown. I’ve also thought about giving up in the middle of shoots before. “Well, after this one, I’m just never going to work again.”

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