Emily Jean Stone was born on November 6, 1988, in Scottsdale, Arizona, to Krista Jean Stone (née Yeager), a homemaker, and Jeffrey Charles Stone, the founder and CEO of a general-contracting company. Stone lived on the grounds of the Camelback Inn resort from the age of 12 to 15. She has a younger brother, Spencer. Her paternal grandfather, Conrad Ostberg Sten, was from a Swedish family that anglicized their surname to "Stone" when they immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. She also has German, English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.
As an infant, Stone had baby colic and cried frequently; she consequently developed nodules and calluses on her vocal cords while she was a child. Stone has described herself as having been "loud" and "bossy" while growing up. She was educated at Sequoya Elementary School and attended Cocopah Middle School for the sixth grade. Although she did not like school, she has stated that her controlling nature meant that "I made sure I got all As". Stone suffered panic attacks as a child, which she says caused a decline in her social skills. She underwent therapy but states that it was her participation in local theater plays that helped cure the attacks. She has recalled:
The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend's house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop. I would go to the nurse at lunch most days and just wring my hands. I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.
Stone attended Xavier College Preparatory—an all-girl Catholic high school—as a freshman, although she dropped out after one semester to become an actress. (During this time, she was classmates with future Saturday Night Live star Aidy Bryant.) She prepared a PowerPoint presentation for her parents titled "Project Hollywood" (featuring Madonna's 2003 song "Hollywood") to convince them to let her move to California to pursue an acting career. In January 2004, she moved with her mother to an apartment in Los Angeles. She recalls: "I went up for every single show on the Disney Channel and auditioned to play the daughter on every single sitcom", adding, "I ended up getting none." Between auditions for roles, she enrolled in online high-school classes, and worked part-time at a dog-treat bakery.
Early career (2004–2008)
When Stone registered for the Screen Actors Guild, the name "Emily Stone" was already taken. "Riley Stone" was the stage name she chose initially, but after guest-starring in the NBC drama Medium and the Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, she decided that she was more comfortable with "Emma". She made her television debut as Laurie Partridge on the VH1 talent competition reality show In Search of the New Partridge Family (2004). The resulting show, retitled The New Partridge Family (2004), remained an unsold pilot. She followed this with a guest appearance in Louis C.K.'s HBO series Lucky Louie. She auditioned to star as Claire Bennet in the NBC science fiction drama Heroes (2007) but was unsuccessful and later called this her "rock bottom" experience. In April 2007, she played Violet Trimble in the Fox action drama Drive, but the show was canceled after seven episodes.
Stone made her feature film debut in Greg Mottola's comedy Superbad (2007), co-starring Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. The film tells the story of two high school students who go through a series of comic misadventures after they plan to buy alcohol for a party. To play the role of Hill's romantic interest, she dyed her hair red. A reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter found her "appealing", but felt that her role was poorly written. Stone has described the experience of acting in her first film as "amazing ... [but] very different than other experiences I've had since then". The film was a commercial success, and earned her the Young Hollywood Award for Exciting New Face.
The following year, Stone starred in the comedy The Rocker (2008) playing Amelia Stone, the "straight face" bass guitarist in a band; she learned to play the bass for the role. The actress, who describes herself as "a big smiler and laugher", has admitted that she found it difficult portraying a character whose personality traits were so different from her own. The film, and her performance, received negative reviews from critics and was a commercial failure. Her next release, the romantic comedy The House Bunny, performed better at the box-office, becoming a moderate commercial success. The film sees her play the president of a sorority, and perform a cover version of the Waitresses' 1982 song "I Know What Boys Like". Reviews for the film were generally negative, though she was praised for her supporting role, and TV Guide's Ken Fox wrote of Stone that: "She's positively incandescent, lighting up a movie that would be pretty dim without her."
Stone provided the voice of an Australian Shepherd in Marmaduke (2010), a comedy from director Tom Dey, which is based on Brad Anderson's long-running comic strip of the same name. Her breakthrough came the same year with a starring role in Easy A, a teen comedy directed by Will Gluck. Partially based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 historical romance novel The Scarlet Letter, the film tells the story of Olive Penderghast (Stone), a high school student who becomes embroiled in a comic sex scandal after a false rumor circulates that she is sexually promiscuous. Stone read the script before the project was optioned for production, and pursued it with her manager while production details were being finalized. She found the script "so different and unique from anything I'd read before", saying that it was "funny and sweet". When Stone discovered that the film had begun production, she met with Gluck, expressing her enthusiasm for the project. A few months later, the audition process started and she met again with Gluck, becoming one of the first actresses to audition. The film received positive critical reviews, and Stone's performance was considered its prime asset. Anna Smith of Time Out commented: "Stone gives a terrific performance, her knowing drawl implying intellect and indifference with underlying warmth." With a total box office of $75 million, the film was a commercial success. Stone was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, and won the MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.
Disillusioned at being typecast as the "sarcastic interest of the guy", Stone co-starred with Viola Davis in Tate Taylor's period drama The Help (2011), a film she found to be challenging. The film is based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name and is set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. She met with Taylor to express a desire to work in the film. Taylor has said: "Emma was completely awkward and dorky, with her raspy voice, and she sat down and we got a little intoxicated and had a blast, and I just thought, 'God! God! This is Skeeter." She was cast as Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, an aspiring writer learning about the lives of the African-American maids. In preparation for the part, she trained to speak in a Southern dialect; she also educated herself on the Civil Rights Movement through literature and film. With a worldwide gross of $216 million against a budget of $25 million, The Help became Stone's most commercially successful film to that point. The film, and her performance, received positive reviews from critics. Writing for Empire, Anna Smith thought that Stone was "well-meaning and hugely likable" despite finding flaws in the character. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and won Best Ensemble Cast from the Women Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
In 2014, Stone reprised the role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In an interview with Total Film, the actress explained that her character was not dependent on the film's protagonist. "She saves him more than he saves her. She's incredibly helpful to Spider-Man ... He's the muscle, she's the brains." Her performance was well received by critics; an Empire reviewer praised her for standing out in the film: "Stone is the Heath Ledger of this series, doing something unexpected with an easily dismissed supporting character." The role earned her the Favorite Movie Actress award at the 2015 Kids' Choice Awards. Later that year, Stone took on a role in Woody Allen's romantic comedy Magic in the Moonlight, a modest commercial success. A. O. Scott criticized her role, and pairing with Colin Firth, describing it as "the kind of pedantic nonsense that is meant to signify superior intellect".
From November 2014 to February 2015, Stone starred in a revival of the Broadway musical Cabaret as Sally Bowles, taking over the role from Michelle Williams. Considering it to be "the most nerve-racking thing ever", Stone told the Entertainment Weekly magazine that she listened to a French radio station to mentally prepare herself for the role.Variety's Marilyn Stasio was critical of her singing and found her performance "a bit narrow as an emotional platform, but a smart choice for her acting skills, the perfect fit for her sharp intelligence and kinetic energy." Both of Stone's 2015 films—the romantic comedy-drama Aloha, and the mystery drama Irrational Man—were critical and commercial failures, and her roles were panned by critics. In Cameron Crowe's Aloha, she took on the role of an Asian-American air force pilot alongside Bradley Cooper, and in the Woody Allen-directed Irrational Man, she portrayed the romantic interest of Joaquin Phoenix's character, a philosophy professor. The former was controversial for whitewashing the cast; Stone later regretted the project, acknowledging whitewashing as a widespread problem in Hollywood. Despite the criticism, she was nominated for Choice Movie Actress – Comedy at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards.
Stone moved from Los Angeles to Greenwich Village, New York City, in 2009. In 2016, she moved back to Los Angeles. Despite frequent media coverage, the actress has refused to speak about her private life. Concerned with living a "normal" life, she has said that she finds little value in media attention. She has expressed her fondness for her profession, and has cited actress Diane Keaton as an influence, who is (in Stone's words) "one of the most covered-up actresses of all time". She has also named actress and singer-songwriter Marion Cotillard as one of her inspirations.
Stone has a close relationship with her family. She says: "I am blessed with a great family and great people around me that 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." During the production of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2010, Stone dated co-star Andrew Garfield. The nature of their relationship was well-documented by the media, with frequent speculation about an impending engagement or a break-up. The couple refused to talk about it publicly, though they made several appearances together. In 2015, they were reported to have broken up.
Stone, alongside three other celebrities, was present at the 2012 Nickelodeon HALO Awards, a television special that profiled five teenagers who are "Helping And Leading Others" (HALO). In 2014, on an occasion in New York, Stone and Garfield encouraged paparazzi to visit websites, which spread awareness of causes, such as autism. She attended the 2014 Earth Hour, a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 2015, she was part of a fundraising event in support of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which helps people in the television and film industry with limited or no resources.
Several media publications consider Stone one of her generation's most talented actresses. Commenting on her performance in The Help, Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter called her "one of our very best young actresses". She is known for starring both in high-profile, mainstream productions and in low-budget independent films. Time's Daniel D'Addario describes the latter as "substantive risk" and adds that taking on a role in them provides her an opportunity to "try something new and to get credibility". Analyzing her on-screen persona, Jessica Kiang of Indiewire noted that Stone "usually [plays] the approachable, down-to-earth, girl-next-door type, [and] in person she demonstrates many of those qualities too, along with an absolute refusal to take herself too seriously."
As her career in Hollywood films has developed, Stone has become a successful and popular actress. In 2008, she topped Saturday Night Magazine's Top 20 Rising Stars Under 30 and was included in a similar list compiled by Moviefone.LoveFilm placed her on their list of 2010 Top 20 Actresses Under 30, and her performance in Easy A was included in Time's Top 10 Everything of 2010. She appeared in the 2013 Celebrity 100, a compilation of the 100 most powerful people in the world, as selected annually by Forbes. The magazine reported that she had earned $16 million from June 2012 to June 2013. That same year, she was ranked first in the magazine's Top 10 Best Value Stars. In 2015, Forbes published that she had become one of the highest-paid actresses with earnings of $6.5 million. In 2017, she was featured by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Stone is considered a style icon—the media cites her hair, eyes, and husky voice as her trademarks.Vogue credits the actress for her "sophisticated, perfectly put-together looks", writing that "her charisma, both on-screen and off-, has charmed many." In 2009, she featured in AskMen's Top 99 Women, FHM's100 Sexiest Women in the World, and Maxim magazine's Hot 100; the latter also placed her on the list on three other occasions—2010, 2011, and 2014. She continued to be featured in AskMen's annual beauty lists from 2010 to 2015, ranking among the top forty each year. In 2011, she appeared in Victoria's Secret's list of What is Sexy? as the Sexiest Actress. She was mentioned in several other media outlet lists that year, including People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful Women, each of FHM's and FHM Australia's 100 Sexiest Women in the World, and Men's Health magazine's 100 Hottest Women. She ranked sixth on Empire's list of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in 2013. Stone was named the best dressed woman of 2012 by Vogue magazine and was featured in similar listings by Glamour in 2013 and 2015, and People in 2014. In 2017, Buzznet named her one of the world's most beautiful women.
^"Aloha". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2016. "Irrational Man". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016. "Aloha". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 17, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.