She's been courted by Jonah Hill, jammed with Rainn Wilson, saved a sorority with Anna Faris, and even outlived Bill Murray in the undead apocalypse; now, only three years into her feature film career, Emma Stone is on the verge of her biggest break yet.
In Will Gluck's Easy A, Stone is Olive Penderghast, a plucky-but-invisible Southern California teenager who becomes a local celebrity overnight when a fib about losing her virginity spreads like wildfire through her small-minded small town high school. Faking promiscuity to boost her own notoriety and to help her fellow misfits blend in, Olive takes ownership of her bad reputation, a la The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne -- until the constant rumors and judgments become too much to handle.
It's an enviable leading role for any up-and-coming actress of Stone's generation, one that could turn the 21-year-old into a household name -- like KStew or ScarJo, though Stone seems to lack the tabloid appeal of some of her peers. (EStone? EmStone? Better to stick with good old Emma Stone.) As Olive, Stone displays the ample talents that have brought her this far in a remarkably short span of time, solidifying the niche she's carved for herself as Hollywood's go-to sassy redhead.
At times bold and brassy, intelligent and witty, sweet and vulnerable, poised and dorky, the character allows Stone to be everything we know Emma Stone can be; it's so well attuned to Stone's talents that if Easy A hadn't famously been a 2008 Black List entry, among the hottest then-unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, it would seem to have been tailor-made for its star.
So how did Emma Stone become a star in the first place? It all began, improbably, with The Partridge Family.
As a competitor on VH1's reality show In Search of the New Partridge Family, Stone won her first credited screen role playing Laurie Partridge in the ill-fated series reboot that followed. Guest spots on television shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Malcolm in the Middle followed, along with a part opposite Nathan Fillion on the Fox series Drive, which was cancelled after just four episodes.
Then came Superbad, the film that changed it all -- including Stone's trademark hair color. To play Jules, the object of Jonah Hill's affection, Stone dyed her hair red for the first time per producer Judd Apatow's suggestion. Stone's comic turn in the raunchy hit put her on the geek radar and impressed her sardonic, titian-haired persona upon the collective consciousness.
The following summer, Stone popped up in two August comedies playing second fiddle to bigger names, although her star was on the rise. The Rainn Wilson-led vehicle The Rocker disappointed at the box office, but Stone's other summer flick, The House Bunny, fared better. In 2009's Matthew McConaughey vehicle The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and the indie dramedy Paper Man, Stone stood out as the best thing in both films.
But it wasn't until Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland that Stone once again found herself in a decent comedy. As Wichita, the gun-toting young woman traveling the countryside protecting her little sister (Abigail Breslin), Stone proved an intimidating foil to both Jesse Eisenberg's neurotic college kid and Woody Harrelson's brutish brawler. Still, the role served as Zombieland's requisite love interest, the object allowing Eisenberg's character to truly become a man. Stone had yet to find a leading role worthy of her talents.
Which brings us back to Easy A. As Mean Girls did for that other once-promising redhead, Lindsay Lohan, Easy A has the potential to change the course of Emma Stone's career trajectory and more. Will audiences embrace the effortless charisma and smarts that Stone brings to each scene, like a young Lucille Ball of the Facebook generation? Will Hollywood see that there is a place for stories about intelligent young women who are neither manic indie movie clichés nor one-dimensional romantic comedy heroines? Here's to hoping Easy A not only launches the delightful Stone into stardom, but encourages demand for more vehicles for smart young actresses just like her.