You Can Thank 'Superbad' For The Emma Stone We Know & Love

by Amy Roberts

In the ten years since the movie premiered to wide acclaim — her career sky-rocketing since that point — it's clear that Superbad was the birth of Emma Stone's career. That isn't just because Superbad was a colossal hit, and one that secured Stone's position in an elite group of up and coming acting talent. It's also because the movie's tone, improv-centric filming style, and the character Stone portrays in Superbad all so perfectly showed off glimpses of the Academy Award winning actor's inimitable charm and skill-set.

As Jules in Superbad, Stone brought fresh life to an otherwise stock teen comedy character — the hot, high school cool girl. She was droll instead of perky, cynical rather than available, and her humor was delivered with a naturalistic ironic nuance that was savage yet deeply appealing.

Since Superbad, of course, we've seen this aspect of Stone's acting register flourish within comedies like Zombieland, Easy A, and Crazy, Stupid, Love, but also in some of her dramatic roles such as Sam in Birdman, or Mia in La La Land. Superbad highlighted Stone's comedic prowess, but it also hinted that there was a certain dark and caustic side to the actor's performance range that could be well applied within dramas, too.

In retrospect, it feels as though the improv-friendly dynamics of Superbad helped to show off the actor's extremely naturalistic charm. Speaking with Aloha director Cameron Crowe in Interview magazine, Stone explained how positive "the whole experience of working on a movie with those guys" was with Superbad as her first movie. Stone said:

...it was Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg]'s story. When we made Superbad, Seth and Evan were in their early twenties, but they had started writing the script when they were 13. I also hadn't really seen any of Judd's other movies at the time, besides The 40-Year-Old Virgin [2005], so I didn't really know how Judd's films worked, with people riffing and going off the cuff ... I thought that every movie was going to be like that. I was like, "Oh, this is fun. You can just make it up as you go." But every movie is not like that. [laughs]

While Stone might not be given the same improvisational privileges in every movie that she enjoyed in Superbad, her natural performance style comes through in different ways instead. It shines in her chemistry with co-stars, particularly Ryan Gosling, with whom she's starred in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Gangster Squad, and La La Land, but also within the ease with which Stone is able to switch between dramatic and comedic roles with an instinctive, casual finesse.

Interestingly, Superbad, and Stone's acting experiences prior to the movie may also have provided direct inspiration for her most successful movie role yet — as Mia in La La Land. Portraying a struggling actor in LA apparently came easy to Stone who can still remember her fight for roles prior to landing TV gigs, and her eventual big break in Superbad. In an interview with Elle Magazine, Stone revealed the difficulty of her early acting career and said:

When I first moved out to L.A. I was fifteen and I was with this youth agency, and they were sending me out on a lot of Disney Channel stuff. I was getting nothing. I was going on lots and lots of auditions. And then it was radio silence. Nothing. I didn't get any auditions for months. And that, to me, is more painful than auditioning a lot and getting rejected. Because if you're auditioning, you're lucky.

Superbad was Stone's first major motion picture, and the movie appeared to acknowledge that the actor had way more to give than any stock teen comedy role could grant her. As such, it gave the actor her first breakthrough big screen opportunity following a number of roles on TV that included an episode of Malcolm In The Middle, and a recurring role in a show called Drive. However, if Stone had never been given the role of Jules in Superbad, then it's difficult to imagine how her career may have developed, and what opportunities she may have been given as a result.

Thankfully, she was given the chance to reveal just what a unique and talented star she was in the 2007 comedy, and the actor has continued to go from strength to strength ever since.