Editor In Chief and News Editor
Just as La La Land has taken the film industry by storm, so did Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling at their appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. On February 10, Stone and Gosling were praised and awarded for their performances in La La Land in an event that lasted two hours, which does not include the time event-goers spent waiting in line to get in.
The streets surrounding the Arlington Theatre were packed with people, with both those who came to see the event and came to see the new darlings of Hollywood. After the pair made their grand entrance, other figures important to the production of the movie followed suit. Director Damien Chazelle, for example, received praise left and right from the line of press along the red carpet.
When everyone finally made it inside the theater, Stone, Gosling and their interviewer, Roger Durling were announced and made their way to the comfortable seating area to the left side of the stage. The interview highlighted the broad careers of both stars by inserting clips of past work leading up to their performances in La La Land. The conversation of their careers ranged from Gosling’s earlier work in The Believer to one of Stone’s latest films, Birdman. Stone joked about her and Goslings fake nicknames for each other, “Rysies” and “Emsies” while Gosling rained praise on Gene Kelly, his childhood hero.
“Gene Kelly could sing and dance and kick your… The balance is a beautiful thing and I wanted that.” said Gosling on what inspired him to start acting as a kid. “An American in Paris and Singing in the Rain are my favorites. Musicals are a wonderful medium. There are no rules and you can express a character’s emotions through song and dance.”
Contrary to Gosling’s early and continuing love for musicals, Stone mentioned that she had stopped doing musicals when she was young because she thought she was not a strong singer. However, after her role in the broadway show Cabaret, she broke free from her early premonitions of herself.
“Ryan and I begged for rehearsal time and were so grateful we had three months with Damien and Mandy Moore [choreographer of La La Land],” said Stone. “They were cheering us on from the very beginning.”
“The first time we worked together was in this audition for Crazy Stupid Love and we read the lines and whatever and did the scene a few times but we were kind of improvising before and after the actual scene, you know, and the directors were like why don’t you guys just improvise,” said Gosling on his first encounter with Stone. “And it was just— I don’t know if you have improvised before but it can be a nightmare… there’s just something that can be uncomfortable about it… And we [he and Emma] just couldn’t shut up… Improvisation creates a connection in a scene because you’re creating it together… I think that set a foundation for how to work.”
Not only can you see a tangible connection on screen through improvisation, as Gosling said, but you could also see it with how the two interacted during the interview. Audience members could see that they both value and respect each other so much, which is what made La La Land so incredible.
“Damien had said early on that because Ryan and I had worked together before— and people had seen us together before— that he wanted it to be a different version of repour than people had seen before,” said Stone about developing Mia and Sebastian’s relationship in La La Land. “So I think we consciously developed… We had the opportunity to build these people.”
The night was brought to a close with Chazelle taking the stage a presenting the Outstanding Performers Award to Stone and Gosling. Ryan charmingly commented on the oddly weaponized qualities of the physical award and begun to swordfight with Emma, reassuring how perfect the pair was for their two roles in La La Land.
Picture of Damien Chizelle: producer of La La Land