Emma Stone Says Her “Eyes Have Been Opened” by Aloha Controversy
By: JOANNA ROBINSON
When Aloha opened to much criticism last month, director Cameron Crowe addressed the controversy surrounding his decision to cast Emma Stone as the partially Chinese character Allison Ng. But Stone herself remained mum on the subject. Now, with a little distance, the likable actress is confronting the controversy and admitting it’s not the only hot-button topic she found herself at the center of this year. “I’ve become the butt of many jokes,” the actress said—and she’s not talking about award-show zingers.
While promoting the Woody Allen film Irrational Man in Australia, Stone said in an interview, “I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.” But Stone didn’t throw her Aloha director under the bus, echoing Crowe’s own defense that he based the character on a real-life woman he met whose Asian heritage wasn’t immediately apparent. “The character was not supposed to look like her background,” Stone says, “Which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese.”
But racial representation in Hollywood wasn’t the only controversy that landed on Stone this year. Last month Vulture published a piece entitled “Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, and Scarlett Johansson Have an Older-Man Problem” that called out the age disparity between some of Hollywood’s most famous young actresses and their leading men. Stone’s two Woody Allen films, Magic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man, were cited as particularly egregious examples where there is, respectively, a 28- and 14-year age gap between Stone and her love interests, played by Colin Firth and Joaquin Phoenix. Stone responded to questions about the age gap by saying,
"It’s rampant in Hollywood and it’s definitely been that way for a long time, both culturally and in movies. But in Irrational Man, the film is contingent upon the age difference; the movie is about that disparity. And when I did Magic in the Moonlight Colin Firth and I talked about the gap which was huge, absolutely, because he was born the same year as my dad. There’s a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealised way. There are some flaws in the system. My eyes have been opened in many ways this year."
Stone’s next project, the romantic musical La La Land, reunites her with her Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad co-star Ryan Gosling who is, at least, only eight years her senior. If opening her eyes to Hollywood’s more questionable practices means Stone has decided to sing and dance her way into Ryan Gosling’s heart, then we’re all winners in this particular learning experience.
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By Samir Hussein/Getty Images.